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Prison Officer

What does a Prison Officer do?

Prison officers have responsibility for the security, supervision, training and rehabilitation of people committed to prison by the courts. The ability to build relationships is key as are the skills to manage risk, make quick decisions, deal effectively with unexpected situations and work as part of a team.

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How to become a Prison Officer?

To become a Prison Officer in the UK, you will need to have these requirements:

  • Be 18 years old or over
  • Be fit, have good eyesight and pass a fitness test
  • Be able to hear a normal conversation at a distance of 10 feet (3 metres) without the use of hearing aids
  • Have the right to work in the UK - if you don’t have a permanent residency in the UK, you will need a leave to remain entitled for approximately 30 months at the point you apply. If you would like to work in a high-security prison - Category A, you must have been resident in the UK for the last 3 years.

What qualifications do you need to become a Prison Officer?

With the right qualifications, you can become a Prison Officer and quickly progress into specialist projects such as rehabilitation projects with a group of prisoners and their families. You can also progress to more senior roles such as a supervising officer, custodial manager, head of department, deputy governor or governor.

At The University of Law (ULaw), we offer a variety of courses to help you become a Prison Officer. Please see our recommended courses below:

BA Criminology
BSc Professional Policing
Law with Criminology

What skills does a Prison Officer need?

  • Strong interpersonal skills, including assertiveness and self-motivation
  • Excellent communication and people skills, as well as the ability to get on with a range of people
  • Personal integrity and resilience
  • Decision making skills, leadership potential and the ability to take responsibility from day one
  • Assertiveness
  • Team working skills and the ability to learn from others
  • Organisational and time management skills
  • The ability to accept criticism
  • Self-confidence, emotional intelligence and the ability to remain calm under pressure
  • Physical stamina
  • Patience and the ability to actively listen
  • Knowledge of public safety and security
  • Attention to detail
  • Awareness of how prisons fit within the wider criminal justice system and communities.
  • A flexible approach to work and adaptability to change
  • Knowledge of the legal system including court procedures and government regulations
  • Problem solving skills
  • The ability to form working relationships with people from all walks of life
  • Negotiation skills.

What are day to day tasks?

As a Prison Officer, you will carry out security checks and searches and keep inmates secure. Supervise prisoners and maintain orders, including authorised physical control and restraint. Supporting vulnerable prisoners and promoting anti-bullying and suicide prevention is always essential. You will also need to write reports on prisoners and keep records. When necessary, you will escort prisoners to hospital visits or court appointments.

How much does a Prison Officer earn?

A Prison Officer’s starting salary is up to £30k, depending on location and contracted hours. 

The role includes a whole range of benefits such as outstanding training, 25 days’ annual leave plus bank holidays, civil service pension, childcare voucher scheme, annual season ticket loan, blue light card, generous maternity leave cover, the opportunities for career development and access to a range of other benefits via the Prison Service Sports Association.

Useful links

For more information on jobs and what to expect from this career, please visit some of the most widely used sites for careers support.


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