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Prison officer

Alternative titles for this job include

Prison officers supervise people who are in prisons, remand centres and young offenders' institutions.

Average salary (a year)

£30,702 Starter


£38,165 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 41 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays on shifts

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become a prison officer

You can get into this job through an apprenticeship or by applying directly.


You could do a Custody and Detention Officer Level 3 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 could apply directly to be a prison officer. You do not need qualifications as personal qualities are more important in this role.

You'll need to take an online test to check your judgement and number skills. 

If you pass, you'll attend an assessment day where you'll be tested on your:

  • number, reading and writing skills
  • fitness
  • health, hearing and eyesight

You'll also have an interview and take part in role plays to see if you have the right personal qualities to be a prison officer.

More information

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

What it takes

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

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

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

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

As a prison officer you could:

  • keep prisoners secure and support anyone who is vulnerable
  • carry out security checks and searches
  • maintain order, sometimes using authorised physical control and restraint
  • go with prisoners on external visits, like to court or appointments
  • prepare prisoners for release through rehabilitation programmes
  • update records, write reports and promote anti bullying and suicide prevention policies

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

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

With experience you could:

  • train and move into specialist projects like rehabilitation work with groups of prisoners and their families
  • become a supervising officer, custodial manager or head of function
  • move up to become a deputy governor or prisoner governor

Current opportunities

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Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a prison officer 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

Public Services First Certificate

  • Start date: 09 September 2024
  • Location: Bexhill on Sea

Public Services Diploma level 2

  • Start date: 02 September 2024
  • Location: Newport

Jobs In the United Kingdom

The Find a job service can help you with your search for jobs and send alerts when new jobs become available.

Skills assessment

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