Prison officer

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Prison officers supervise inmates in prisons, remand centres and young offenders’ institutions.

Salary range: £20,750 to £38,000

How to become a prison officer

You can get into this job through:

  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly

Apprenticeship

You could complete an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in custodial care, or a custody and detention officer advanced apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

To do this apprenticeship, you’ll need:

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

More information

Direct application

You do not need qualifications to apply directly to be a prison officer. Personal qualities are more important.

You’ll need to take an online test to check your judgement and your number skills. If you pass, you’ll attend an assessment day where you’ll:

  • take another number test
  • take a reading and writing test
  • take part in role plays to see if you have the right personal qualities for the job
  • take fitness tests
  • have a medical and eyesight test
  • be interviewed

More information

Further information

You can find out more about how to become a prison officer from HM Prison & Probation Service.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • leadership skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • legal knowledge including court procedures and government regulations
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

In this role you could be:

  • keeping inmates secure
  • carrying out security checks and searches
  • supervising prisoners and maintaining order – this can involve authorised physical control and restraint
  • supporting vulnerable prisoners
  • promoting anti-bullying and suicide prevention policies
  • going with prisoners on external visits like court appearances or hospital appointments
  • preparing inmates for release through rehabilitation programmes
  • updating records and writing reports on prisoners

Working environment

You could work in a prison.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

You may need to wear a uniform.

Career path and progression

With experience and training you could move into specialist projects, like rehabilitation work with specific groups of prisoners and their families.

You could become a supervising officer, custodial manager, head of function, deputy governor or governor.

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