Prison instructor

Instructional officer

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Prison instructors teach prisoners new skills to help them find work after their release.

Salary range: £20,000 to £31,000

How to become a prison instructor

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship


You’ll need a recognised teaching qualification or be willing to work towards one. Qualifications include:

  • Level 3 Award in Education and Training
  • Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training
  • Level 5 Education and Training Diploma

You’ll need access to 100 hours of teaching practice. You’ll also need experience and a level 3 vocational qualification in your subject area or trade.

You may find it useful to do qualifications in assessment, like the Level 3 Certificate in Assessing Vocational Achievement.

Entry requirements

You may need:

  • GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths

More information


You can complete a learning and skills teacher higher apprenticeship.

You’ll need a qualification in the subject you want to teach. Employers will be looking for relevant up-to-date industry experience.

You’ll also need to show ability in English, maths and IT.

More information

More information

Further information

You can find out more about teaching qualifications from FE Advice.

Find out more about the role from Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to enjoy working with other people
  • customer service skills
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

You would also need to meet the usual Prison Service entry requirements, which include nationality and security checks. See Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service for more details.

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • finding out the skills and training needs of each prisoner
  • planning training sessions
  • preparing teaching materials
  • providing group or one-to-one instruction
  • updating prisoners’ individualised learner records
  • supporting prisoners working towards qualifications
  • making sure prisoners are supervised at all times
  • keeping the working area safe
  • making sure tools and materials are counted to avoid security risks
  • searching prisoners, known as a ‘rub down’ or ‘pat down’

Working environment

You could work in a prison.

Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time and physically and emotionally demanding.

Career path and progression

You could become a senior or principal officer, or move into other areas of training or instructing.

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