What you need to know to become a police officer in South Africa

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Police woman in uniform.
Police woman in uniform.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Education and training

If you’re looking to be a real-life superhero, policing may be the closest you can get – and it’s not as hard as you may think. The hard part lies in the job.

The South African Police Service (Saps) advertises trials in newspapers and on its site throughout the year. To be an officer you don’t need a diploma or degree, but you must have passed your matric grade with the compulsory languages and mathematics or mathematical literacy.

When chosen for the trials, the six-months training usually takes place at one of the Saps training colleges around the country either in Bishop Lavis, Wentworth, Pretoria or Hammanskraal.  Graduates usually have a training period of around three months.

There are additional requirements you’ll have to satisfy before applying:

You must be a South African citizen

You must be at least 18 years old

You must have a valid driver’s license

You must not have a criminal record


Additional skills

You need to be able to think quickly and decisively and have good communication skills. You’ll also need to be in full control of your emotions in volatile situations.

Fitness is important – mentally and physically – and you ned to be able to speak more than one language.


Duties and responsibilities

You are in the hands of the justice system. Police officers prevent, investigate and fight crime in society. You are called in to deal with volatile and dangerous situations and need to actively look for potential areas of danger and put out flames before they become fire.

Situations you will find yourself in include murder scenes, drug busts, robberies and civilian incidences. You may find yourself in situations that require you to put your life on the line. Physical altercations are inevitable and you might have to shoot someone.


Job outlook

Excellent – there is always a need for more police officers.


Work schedule

You should be comfortable with working unconventional shifts, overtime and in dynamic circumstances. You will work 12-hour shifts, either during the day or night


Work environment

Dynamic. It can be out in the field or in the station


Salary range

Saps salaries range from an average of R138 375 to R329 881 a year.

Sources: Educonnect, SAPS


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