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Protective service officer recruits

Play a critical role in protecting important Australian places and the diplomatic community

Join us as a protective service officer

Play a critical role in protecting important Australian places and the diplomatic community.

As a protective service officer (PSO), you'll provide:

  • highly visible security at places like Parliament House in Canberra and Defence sites
  • protective security to the diplomatic community.

And you'll keep people and places safe from terrorism, violent protest and other events motivated by violence.

What you'll do

As a PSO, you'll be a first responder to any criminal and national security threats. You'll use specialist capabilities and data to keep people and places safe.

Your day-to-day work will be challenging and varied. Along with other tasks, you'll:

  • perform high-visibility patrols, by vehicle, foot or bike
  • provide static protection services
  • act as first responders in matters of national security
  • collate, retrieve and report on data for operational purposes.

Our PSOs find themselves working in a variety of places. These might include:

  • Defence establishments
  • parliamentary sites and designated official establishments
  • places with important safety and security requirements, like the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation or the Christmas Island Immigration Detention Centre.

You might also work in remote Australian locations, or travel overseas providing personal protection to our politicians or diplomats.

To learn more about life in the AFP, and get to know our people, read our people's stories.

Application process

Below outlines the 7 gateways you need to pass to become a PSO with us. Our recruitment team will help you navigate these gateways and ensure you know exactly what you need to do at each stage. Make sure you are eligible before you apply.

There may be costs associated with some of these gateways, for example, paying for travel or paying a fee to access your traffic history. You are responsible for these costs.

You must successfully pass each gateway to be placed in our talent pool. If successful, you'll complete the 14-week Protective Service Officer Program at the AFP College.

Gateway 1 - Check your eligibility


To be eligible to become a PSO with us, you must:

  • be aged 18 years or over
  • be an Australian citizen
  • hold a valid full or provisional driver's licence (including automatic-only)
  • be able to obtain a Negative Vetting 1 Security Clearance
  • meet our character standards
  • hold at least one of the following qualifications:
    • Year 10 Certificate and 2 years of work experience

    • Year 10 Certificate and a nationally recognised vocational education qualification at Certificate III level or higher

    • Year 12 Certificate

    • vocational education (TAFE) qualification or university qualification at Diploma level or higher.

You must also provide evidence that you:

  • have had 2 primary doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine or one dose of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine at the time of application (immunisation history statement or COVID-19 digital certificate is required)
  • hold current first aid and CPR certifications
  • can swim 100 m freestyle.

Your first step is to register your interest by applying through our Jobs portal.

If you pass this gateway, you'll receive an email invitation to take the entrance exam.

Gateway 2 - Entrance exam

Take the entrance exam

The entrance exam will test your cognitive ability and emotional intelligence.

We usually hold entrance exams 4 times a year, in a supervised environment, in different places around Australia. The available times and dates for your exam will be included with your invitation.

As part of the exam, you'll complete 5 tests. You must meet the minimum score in each test to pass this gateway.

  • The literacy skills test has 30 written and multiple-choice questions, and a 35-minute time limit.
  • The numeracy skills test has 30 written and multiple-choice questions, and a 35-minute time limit.
  • The abstract reasoning test has 30 multiple-choice questions, and a 30-minute time limit.
  • The writing ability test has one extended writing question, and a 35-minute time limit.
  • The emotional intelligence test has 141 multiple-choice questions, and is untimed.

If you don't pass a test (other than the emotional intelligence test) you'll be given one opportunity to take the test again. If you don't pass the emotional intelligence test, you'll have to wait 12 months before you can take it again.

The tests are administered by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). To help you prepare for your exam, ACER has prepared:

A range of information about the exam

Free and paid testing resources.

Gateway 3 - Fitness assessment

Complete your fitness assessment

If you pass your entrance exam, you'll be invited to complete the Entry Physical Competency Assessment (EPCA). The invitation will be sent to your email address.

Fitness testing is held around Australia at various times and places. The available dates, times and locations will be sent with your invitation.

If you pass all gateways, you'll also complete a Physical Competency Assessment (PCA) at the AFP College

The PCA is different to the EPCA. If you pass the EPCA we suggest you start preparing for the PCA by following the AFP Pre-course Fitness Program.

Preparing for the Entry Physical Competency Assessment

To pass the EPCA, you must complete 3 different exercises to a set standard.

Phased sit-ups

To complete this exercise successfully, you must perform one valid sit-up at 4 different stages, in order. At each stage the sit-up increases in difficulty. You can attempt each stage up to 2 times.

For sit-ups to be valid, you must:

  • start the sit-up with your back flat on the floor
  • keep your knees at a 90-degree angle throughout the movement
  • keep both feet in contact with the ground at all times
  • keep both of your arms in contact with your body at all times
  • maintain control, without using the momentum of your body.
Stage 1
  • Start with your arms outstretched, with your hands on your thighs.
  • Sit up to the point that your fingertips reach the top of your knees.
Stage 2
  • Start with your arms outstretched, with your hands on your thighs.
  • Sit up to the point that your elbows reach the top of your knees, with arms outstretched.
Stage 3
  • Start with your arms folded on your abdomen, with your hands gripping each opposite elbow.
  • Sit up to the point that your chest touches your thighs, and your arms pass over your knees.
Stage 4
  • Start with your arms crossed over your chest, with your hands resting on your shoulders.
  • Sit up to the point that your chest touches your thighs, and your arms pass over your knees.

Watch our video on sit-up standards.


Applicants who identify as:

  • male must perform 15 valid push-ups
  • female must perform 8 valid push-ups
  • gender X must perform a number of valid push-ups as determined on a case-by-case basis and following discussion with the applicant.

For push-ups to be valid, you must:

  • complete all required push-ups in 60 seconds
  • maintain correct form, and adjust your form if asked
  • limit rest (at the top of the push-up) to no more than 3 seconds
  • begin with your body raised in a plank position, with your hands in line with your shoulders, your arms straight, and your toes on the floor
  • lower your body to within 5 cm of the floor, with your arms at a 90-degree angle
  • maintain a straight line through your body (from shoulders to heels) throughout the push-up
  • return to the start position, with your elbows straight.

Watch our video on push-up standards.

Beep test

You must reach Level 6.5 on the beep test:

  • you'll get one attempt at the beep test
  • you can receive up to 2 warnings during the test
  • if you receive a third warning, your test will be over.

You'll receive a warning if you:

  • start running or cross the marker before the relevant 'beep'
  • don't reach the mark (with your leading foot) before or on the relevant 'beep'
  • run a loop at the end of the turn (instead of turning around directly)
  • step in front of another applicant.

Watch our video on beep test standards.

Gateway 4 - Detailed application

Submit your detailed application

To pass this gateway, you'll have to supply us with more detailed information about you, your character, and your background. You'll also need to provide evidence that you can swim 100 m freestyle non-stop and unaided.

You might also be asked to attend a video interview, to help us learn more about why you'd like to join us.

Employment Suitability Questionnaire and traffic history

The Employment Suitability Questionnaire helps us understand your character.

Along with your traffic history, we use it to assess whether you meet our character standards.

You'll be asked a series of questions, including whether you have:

  • any criminal history or prior convictions (at any age)
  • any associations with people or groups who are well-known to law enforcement
  • spent any significant periods of time overseas
  • travelled regularly to places of interest to the AFP.

You'll also have to provide us with a traffic history from any place you have held a valid driver's licence. This includes any licence you've held overseas. Your traffic history must cover your entire driving history. You must have obtained a copy of your traffic history no more than 3 months before the date you submit it to us.

If you don't pass this gateway you won't receive feedback. The decision is final, and there are no internal reviews.

If you do pass this gateway, you'll be invited to attend the Assessment Centre.

Gateway 5 - Assessment Centre

Attend the Assessment Centre

The Assessment Centre is an assessment environment that may be held in person, online or a mix of both. You'll be advised in advance which format yours will be.

You’ll take part in team-based activities, scenarios, and an interview. You’ll be assessed by AFP staff including police officers and protective service officers.

If you're attending the Assessment Centre online, you can join on your computer, or a computer you have access to, from a quiet and private location such as your home. The computer you use should be equipped with a video camera, microphone and internet connection.

A member of the recruitment team will contact you if you pass this gateway. It's the last major assessment before you're offered employment with us.

Gateway 6 - Security assessment

Undergo a security assessment

The AFP Personnel Security Vetting Team will look at your past, going back at least 10 years. They'll assess:

  • your employment, residential, financial and personal history
  • any history of disregarding the law
  • any significant periods you've spent living in foreign countries
  • regular travel abroad to regions of interest.

The team will also conduct a security assessment on your partner, if you have one.

As part of this process you will be asked to provide fingerprint and palm print biometric data. This will be compared to existing biometric records within the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System, which is managed by the Australian Crime and Intelligence Commission.

Gateway 7 - Health assessment

Undergo a health assessment

This gateway has 3 parts:

  1. Meeting physical standards
  2. Evaluating medical conditions
  3. Meeting psychological standards.

Meeting physical standards

You will have an appointment with our contracted health service providers. A medical professional will confirm that you meet these standards:

  • monocular visual acuity of 6/9 or better in each eye (glasses or contact lenses can be worn)
  • binocular visual acuity of 6/9 or better (glasses or contact lenses can be worn)
  • unaided (no glasses or contact lenses) binocular visual acuity of 6/36 or better
  • near vision N8, aided or unaided
  • hearing level averaging 25dB or less between 0.5kHz and 3kHz in both the left and right ear without a hearing aid
  • hearing level of 40dB or less at 4.0kHz in either ear without a hearing aid.

Evaluating medical conditions

Our contracted health service providers will assess any medical condition that you have. They will confirm whether you can complete the job safely and effectively. They may need you to provide reports from specialists, which you'll need to supply at your own expense.

You're unlikely to meet the medical standards if you have:

  • an unreconstructed shoulder following dislocation (an MRI or MRA scan is likely to be required)
  • unreconstructed anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears
  • epilepsy, unless you meet the requirements for an unrestricted commercial driver's licence
  • bleeding disorders, clotting disorders and/or current treatment with anticoagulants.

Conditions we evaluate

These are some of the medical conditions that we consider on a case-by-case basis. The final decision about any medical condition will be made by the AFP Chief Medical Officer.

  • Colour deficiency
  • History of retinal detachment, glaucoma, radical keratotomy, full thickness corneal transplant or acute keratotomy
Musculoskeletal conditions
  • Shoulder subluxation (an MRI may be required)
  • Clinically evident osteoarthritis of the knee (X-ray changes and effusion)
  • Shin splints or compartment syndrome
  • Clinical signs of a lumbar nerve root (straight leg raise limitation less than 40 degrees)
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Chondromalacia, patella dislocation or tracking disorder, cruciate ligament repair or meniscectomy
  • Prior joint surgery or joint replacement surgery
  • Back pain and/or injury
  • Lumbar spine fusion
  • Poor muscular development, abnormal gait and limitation of movement of a joint
  • Asthma (supporting reports will be required)
  • Chronic obstructive airways disease, chronic bronchitis or bronchiectasis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Recurrent pneumothorax
  • Migraines and cluster headaches
  • Organic disease of the nervous system
  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Systolic blood pressure over 140 mmHg and/or diastolic blood pressure over 90 mmHg
  • Organic disease of the heart or arteries
  • A history of deep vein thrombosis
  • Liver disease
  • Hernia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis

Meeting psychological standards

You will need to demonstrate your psychological and emotional resilience through psychological testing and a face-to-face interview with a registered psychologist. As long as your personal circumstances don't change, the results of this assessment are valid for 12 months.

You will be assessed on your strengths in these areas:

  • teamwork
  • emotional self-control
  • conflict resolution
  • decision-making under stress
  • ability to understand other people's behaviour.

You will also be asked about any current or past psychological or psychiatric conditions. The absence of current or past conditions doesn't guarantee that you will pass this gateway.

If you're neurodivergent or are a person with learning disability you may need to go through additional assessments.

Existing conditions

If you have a prior diagnosis or history of a psychological or psychiatric condition, you will be asked to provide relevant information. This includes if you have been treated for these conditions with therapy or medication.

You will not pass this gateway if you:

  • have a condition such as bipolar disorder, major depression, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders or other diagnosis that has led to psychiatric hospitalisation or has required treatment
  • are currently taking any form of prescription psychotropic medication (prescription medication that can affect your mind, emotions or behaviour) such as sertraline (commonly sold as Zoloft), citalopram (Cipramian, Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac), duloxetine (Cymbalta), mirtazapine, venlafaxine (Effexor), and diazepam (Valium).

If you decide to stop taking psychotropic medications, you must do this in consultation with a registered medical practitioner. The medical practitioner must also supervise your withdrawal. They'll have to give us written evidence that you have successfully withdrawn from medication and have been symptom-free for at least 12 months.

Successful withdrawal from psychotropic medication does not guarantee that you will clear this gateway.

Protective Service Officer Program (PSOP)

If you pass all the gateways to become a protective service officer, you'll go through the PSOP at the AFP College. The program lasts 14 weeks. There's a mix of theory and practical learning.

We'll give you the skills and knowledge to work as a PSO. You'll do operational safety-based training. This includes firearms, driver training and defensive tactics. You'll learn to:

  • interpret legislation to identify offences
  • apply protective service methods
  • escort people in a protection environment
  • operate safely
  • communicate
  • apply organisational policy and procedure in line with our values
  • respond to incidents and resolve situations
  • interpret criminal legislation, AFP governance and guidelines, and apply this knowledge to make sound judgements.

Once you've successfully completed the PSOP, you'll gain a Certificate IV in Protective Services.

Life at the College

During initial training, you'll live on site at the AFP College in Canberra for 14 weeks. From Monday to Friday, you'll train in a squad with up to 30 recruits. You'll do physical training 3 times a week. You'll also complete some assignments out of hours.

When you check in on your first day, we'll give you your room key and security pass. You'll join other recruits and staff for lunch in the lounge. We'll tell you about the program and let you know our expectations. You'll have security briefings, learn about the College and have a chance to ask questions. On the first night, there's a barbecue so you can get to know everyone.

We'll brief you on our processes and procedures in the first week. You'll have your uniform fitting and get straight into team-building and overnight exercises.


In the heart of Canberra, near Lake Burley Griffin and close to Kingston’s shopping and café precinct, the AFP College offers:

  • exercise classes and a fully equipped gym open 24/7
  • access to exercise physiologists, physiotherapists, welfare support and dietitians
  • free single-room accommodation with ensuite, bed and desk
  • free main meals
  • mobile phone and laptop computer
  • coffee shop, bar and dining hall
  • shared laundry
  • technology-enabled training rooms and a resources centre to help with study
  • common areas for socialising
  • free off-street parking
  • an ATM.

Benefits and conditions

PSOs are deployed across Australia and around the world. We have regional commands in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Adelaide, Perth and Darwin. There are also opportunities to work in overseas offices and as part of our global operations.

We want to support you as you begin and progress through your career. When you start your career, you'll be placed with a senior PSO who will guide and mentor you through your 6 months' probation and beyond. You'll start at the rank of constable, and have the opportunity to progress through ranks including sergeant and inspector.

As a PSO you'll have access to a wide range of benefits and conditions. These include:

  • clear salary progression under the AFP Enterprise Agreements
  • a 22% composite allowance on top of your salary (dependent on work area placement)
  • 6 weeks of paid annual leave per year (plus additional Christmas stand-down), with options to purchase more leave, take leave at half pay, or cash out leave
  • 4 mandatory rest days per year
  • 18 days of paid personal leave per year
  • 16 weeks of paid maternity leave after 12 months of service for each pregnancy, and an extra 36 weeks of maternity leave without pay
  • 15.4 per cent superannuation, including during all periods of maternity leave
  • 40-hour working week with the option of flexible working arrangements.

Other benefits include paid domestic and family violence leave, paid long-service leave, and provisions for adoption leave and compassionate leave.

Remote deployment salary and allowances

We provide protective services at 3 Defence sites:

  • Exmouth, Western Australia
  • Geraldton, Western Australia
  • Pine Gap, Northern Territory.

We've introduced a Remote Defence Capability Payment (RDCP) to help our employees live and work in these locations. Those deployed receive up to $30,000 per year (taxable) and an additional Remote Localities Allowance.

The RDCP is paid each year to eligible AFP employees permanently located at one of the 3 remote locations. This payment is in addition to the salary rates outlined in our Enterprise Agreement.

Remote Defence Capability Payment

  • Naval Communications Station, Exmouth - $30,000 per annum
  • Joint Defence Facility, Pine Gap - $30,000 per annum
  • Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station, Geraldton - $10,000 per annum

Remote Localities Allowance

  • Naval Communications Station, Exmouth - $10,970 per annum
  • Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap - $10,970 per annum
  • Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station, Geraldton-  $3,708 per annum

Learn more about our benefits and conditions.

Join us as a protective service officer at Pine Gap 

Help us deliver critical protective services at a unique location.

Apply now to be a protective service officer (PSO) at Pine Gap with a starting salary of $113,000 per annum plus overtime and penalties. 

What you’ll do 

Pine Gap is one of our most critical protection sites, located outside of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. 

As a PSO, you'll be an advanced first responder to national security threats at this dedicated Defence facility.  Responsibilities may include foot, bike and vehicle patrols where you will be integral to protecting one of Australia’s critical defence facilities.

Salary and benefits

The position offers a great starting salary, generous leave and plenty of benefits.

Salary and benefits 

Paid to train 

Base salary of $59,582 per annum during 14 week training course 

Starting salary 

Over $113,000 per annum after graduation (this includes: 22% composite, Remote Localities Allowance and Remote Defence Capability Payment)

Relocation support 

Relocation assistance provided by the AFP 

Annual leave 

6 weeks paid 

Mandatory rest days 

4 days per year 

Paid personal leave 

18 days per year 

Paid maternity leave 

16 weeks 



Work week 

10-12 hour shifts including night and weekend  work

Roster with consecutive days off 

Take advantage of what the scenic location has to offer 

Health and wellbeing 

Free access to gym and in-house health professionals 

Apply to be a PSO now

Living in Alice Springs  

Alice Springs is an ever-evolving scene, offering a range of sports and cultural activities. 

Set amongst impressive national parks and freshwater swimming holes, Alice Springs offers a relaxed and easy lifestyle. With just over 40,000 people in the region, you'll be part of a strong and welcoming community.  

Enjoy a variety of outdoor activities like hiking, camping, fishing, wildlife watching, 4WD touring and more. Alice Springs also has a strong sporting culture with outstanding football, cricket, netball, swimming, tennis, baseball and hockey facilities. There is a great mountain biking community with spectacular riding trails.  

Protective Service Officers at Pine Gap

Watch our protective service officers in action

We are searching for people who want a new rewarding and exciting career

Apply now to be a PSO through our jobs portal 

Protective Service Officer standing inside an AFP equipment facility

Protecting some of Australia's most important sites gives me purpose every day. We have real variety in our work and the team I patrol with keep the work exciting.

Protective Service Officer

Get in touch

AFP Recruitment

You can contact us by phone from Monday to Friday 8 am to 4 pm Canberra time.