Careers at The South African Police Service (SAPS)
Roles available at SAPS are advertised in the local media as well as on the careers page of the website, and the types of roles that are available are split between Civilian roles and Police Official roles.
The Civilian roles include:
For Police Official roles, all candidates must complete the same application process steps as outlined below. They also need to meet specific criteria, including age limits, residency, and having no criminal record.
Roles as a Police Official all start with basic training, which includes a year at a training academy. This basic training and tactical policing is phase one.
Phase two includes field training as a uniformed student constable, and this takes another year. Following this, all trainee constables are expected to complete duties as a Community Service Centre Official, doing local policing duties like answering enquiries, dealing with complaints, performing patrols and making arrests.
Once this is complete, the officer can choose to specialize in roles such as:
- Close Protection
- Bomb technicians
- Forensic investigation
- Crime prevention
- Priority crime
- Equestrian unit
- Dog handler
- Special task force
Candidates who wish to apply for a role at SAPS need to bear in mind the overarching vision of the police service, which is “to create a safe and secure environment for all people in South Africa”.
The application process for joining SAPS as a Police Official can be quite lengthy, and there are several steps that must be taken to ensure that you are suitable for the role, have the right skills and aptitudes, and are fit and healthy enough to take on the job.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) Application Process
Online Application Form
Physical Fitness Test
You can begin the process of applying to SAPS online, with many of the jobs available being advertised online - but other roles will be advertised in the local press and at police stations throughout the provinces.
Before you begin your application, ensure that you meet the basic criteria as set out by the government, which includes:
Permanent residence in the Republic of South Africa
Over 18 and under 30
Have a Senior Certificate (Grade 12) or equivalent
Willing to undergo a physical, medical, and psychological evaluation
Fluent in English and at least one other official language
No previous criminal convictions
No visible tattoos that might be problematic
SAPS Online Application Form
The online application form is the first step to complete, and here you will share basic details like information about your education, experience, and anything else that may be relevant. If you meet the basic criteria for a role, then you will be invited to the next stage of the application process.
South African Police Service Aptitude Tests
Aptitude tests are used as part of the recruitment process to assess whether you have the capability to learn new things, and whether you have the aptitude to be successful in a role as a Police Official.
The tests are relatively simple in content, but they are taken under timed exam conditions and put candidates under some pressure to see how well they can use their inherent skills and abilities in a tense situation.
The questions in these assessments will not assume any higher education than basic (Grade 12) learning, so there is no need to have a university education to take them, but you may need to revise your basic math, literacy, and logical skills for the best results.
SAPS abstract reasoning
The abstract reasoning assessment is a non-verbal test that focuses on your ability to take unfamiliar information and use it to form reasoned deductions.
To test this, you will be presented with a series of shapes or images, which are arranged in a sequence. There will be a missing item in the sequence, usually at the end, and you will have to choose from the multiple-choice options presented which one is the correct answer.
In order to perform well in this assessment, you will need to be able to find the rule that governs the sequence and apply it to the options. The rule might be to do with size change, rotation, mirror images, or any number of ways that images or shapes can relate to one another in a sequence.
SAPS verbal reasoning
The verbal reasoning assessment is testing several parts of basic literacy. In the assessment, you will be provided with a passage of unfamiliar text. This might be related to police work, or something completely different. You will need to quickly read, understand, and analyze the information in this text to be able to answer questions about it.
The text is usually followed by a statement, and you will need to use the information you have been given (and nothing else) to decide if the statement is true, false, or there is not enough information to tell.
Here you are being assessed on your ability to make reasoned decisions using written information, and you will need to have a broad understanding of basic spelling and grammar conventions as well as formal language use.
SAPS numerical reasoning
In the numerical reasoning assessment, you are being tested on your ability to apply basic math principles to different situations.
The questions in this assessment are not structured like a math exam; it is not so much about your ability to complete equations or perform calculations, but more about your ability to use math knowledge to solve problems and deal with unfamiliar data.
The math operations are basic, such as addition and multiplication, percentages, and fractions, but you might have to apply them to graphs and tables or to word problems.
SAPS personality test
As part of the assessments, your work behavior and personality traits need to be assessed against a benchmark of what is considered to be the ideal candidate.
To do this, you will be expected to complete a simple personality test, which is usually structured as a series of brief sentences that describe different reactions, behaviors and personality traits.
Each sentence will usually have a scale, where you need to choose how much you think the statement describes you, your personality traits, and your behavior when you are at work. These scales usually range from ‘completely agree’ through to ‘completely disagree’.
Personality tests are usually untimed so you have a bit of space to think about your answers, and there are normally quite a lot of answers that you have to give in comparison with other psychometric tests - so you are better off going with your gut instinct on how to answer them, rather than trying to give the ‘perfect’ response.