Prison governor

Alternative titles for this job include Prison operational manager

Prison governors manage prisons, remand centres and young offenders' institutions.

Average salary (a year)

£39,500 Starter


£75,500 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

43 to 45 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays on a rota

How to become a prison governor

You can get into this job through:

  • working towards this role
  • a management training scheme


You may be able to start as a prison officer and apply for place on a prison service management trainee scheme. You'll need several years' experience, including line management, to apply.

The scheme can lead into senior management jobs and eventually deputy governorship roles, then governor.

Companies that run private prisons have their own entry requirements.

Other routes

You can apply to join the Senior Leadership Scheme. This is a 3-year training scheme available from Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS).

You may have an advantage if you've got a degree, though it's not essential. Employers are just as interested in what you've achieved throughout your career.

Experience in management and excellent communication skills, as well as assertiveness and integrity, are important.

You can also apply through the Unlocked Graduates programme. This is a 2-year leadership development route available to graduates, who:

  • meet the HMPPS eligibility criteria
  • already have, or be expecting to get, an upper second class degree
  • have GCSE grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) in English and maths
  • have the right to work in the UK for the length of the programme

You'll study for a postgraduate master's in leadership and custodial environments as part of the training.

More information

Further information

You can find out more about working in prisons from Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • business management skills
  • leadership skills
  • customer service skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • 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
  • knowledge of human resources and employment law
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Restrictions and requirements

You'll need to:

  • pass enhanced background checks, as you may be working with children and vulnerable adults
  • pass security checks
  • have good eyesight and be physically fit, as you'll have to pass a medical before you can start training
  • be over 18 years of age

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties will include:

  • managing prison security, standards and budgets
  • supervising prisoners and making inspections
  • supporting vulnerable prisoners and those at risk of self-harm
  • carrying out disciplinary procedures
  • managing and motivating prison staff
  • updating records and writing reports
  • developing the prison to meet government targets, like the control of drugs
  • working with other professionals, such as medical staff, social workers and probation officers

Working environment

You could work in a prison.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could work in a more secure prison or join HM Inspectorate of Prisons.

You could also work in the national headquarters of HMPPS.

Another option is to work within prison service colleges or training units around the UK.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a prison governor right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

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  • Start date: 31 August 2020
  • Location: South Shields

Uniformed Public Services

  • Start date: 02 September 2020
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