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Prison officer

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

Annual Salary

£30,702 to £38,165

Average UK salary in 2023 was £34,963
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 41 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; on shifts

Future employment

There will be 0.2% fewer Prison officer jobs in 2027.

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 may need to wear a uniform.

You could work in a prison.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

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
For 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.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

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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

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

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

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
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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