Job type

Prison officer

£22k - £38k

Typical salary

37 – 39

Hours per week

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

More info

  • Supervise inmates in prisons, remand centres and young offenders' institutions
  • You'll need teamwork and leadership skills and emotional resilience
  • You could progress into specialist projects, such as rehabilitative work with specific groups of prisoners and their families

As a prison officer, your work will depend on the type of prison or remand centre you're working in, but it will be a combination of supervising inmates and supporting their welfare and rehabilitation.


  • Keeping inmates secure
  • Carrying out security checks and searches
  • Supervising prisoners and maintaining order (this can involve using authorised physical control and restraint)
  • Supporting vulnerable prisoners
  • Preparing inmates for release through rehabilitation programmes
  • Promoting anti-bullying and suicide prevention policies
  • Escorting prisoners on external visits like court appearances or hospital appointments
  • Updating records and writing reports on prisoners


Most of your work will be indoors, but you'll spend some time outside, for example when patrolling the grounds or supervising recreation. This work can be physically and emotionally demanding.

You'll need

To be a prison officer, 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, thoroughness and attention to detail, flexibility and openness to change, leadership skills, excellent verbal communication skills, and legal knowledge including court procedures and government regulations.

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

Direct application is possible as you do not need set qualifications - personal qualities are more important. You'll need to take an online test to check your judgement and number skills. After passing, you'll attend an assessment day where you'll take another number test, a reading and writing test, take part in role plays to see if you have the right personal qualities for the job, take a fitness, medical and eyesight test, and be interviewed.

You must be over 18, pass enhanced background checks, and will usually need to have lived in the UK for 3 years before applying.


With experience and training you could move into specialist projects, such as rehabilitative work with specific groups of prisoners and their families. You could become a supervising officer, custodial manager, head of function, deputy governor or governor.