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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)

£47,500 Starter


£75,500 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 41 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays on a rota

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become 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 work your way up with further training and experience. You'll need several years' experience, including line management.

You would generally move into senior management jobs and eventually deputy governorship roles, then governor.

Companies that run private prisons have their own entry requirements.

You can find details of prisons in England and Wales on GOV.UK.

Other Routes

You can apply to join the Senior Leadership Scheme. This is a 3-year training scheme available from HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS). Vacancies are advertised online and through social media when a recruitment campaign is taking place.

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 Leadership Development Programme. This is a 2-year fast-track leadership development route available to graduates, who:

  • meet the HMPPS eligibility criteria
  • already have, or are 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 Applied Custodial Leadership as part of the training.

More Information

Further information

You can find out more about working in prisons from HM Prison Service.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

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:

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

As part of your day to day duties, you may:

  • manage prison security, standards and budgets
  • supervise prisoners and make inspections
  • support vulnerable prisoners and those at risk of self-harm
  • carry out disciplinary procedures
  • manage and motivate prison staff
  • update records and write reports
  • develop the prison to meet government targets, like the control of drugs
  • work 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

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

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

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Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

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

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Courses In England

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Jobs In the United Kingdom

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