Are you OK with cookies?

We use small files called ‘cookies’ on Some are essential to make the site work, some help us to understand how we can improve your experience, and some are set by third parties. You can choose to turn off the non-essential cookies. Which cookies are you happy for us to use?

'A prison's guide to' podcast now live
Each week we will bring you a new topic, providing you with life lessons from people across the Prison Service. Hosted by Ben Bailey Smith and created by Acast Creative alongside HMPPS.
More information

How you can progress in your role

Joining HMPPS as a prison officer gives you a range of opportunities for your career. You’ll be able to develop in your role, specialise, or advance through positions once you’ve completed your probationary period and gained the necessary skills and experience.


Band 3 prison officer

Salary starting from: £30,702-£36,104*

Prison officers perform a variety of tasks – from keeping prisons safe and secure, to helping vulnerable people rehabilitate.

You can become a prison officer either by:  

All prison officers must pass the initial assessment and training.

What could your career as a band 3 prison officer look like? 

There are a vast variety of roles, custodial settings, and specialist units you can apply to work in once you’ve completed your probationary period and have the necessary experience. 

Our prisons vary depending on their category and prisoner population. The experience you can gain at a Category A high security prison will vary considerably to experience you can gain at a Category D open prison.  

As a prison officer you can also work on a variety of wings such as those that help people who are on drug withdrawal schemes, at highest risk of self-harm or suicide.  

Band 4 supervising officer

Salary: £36,020-£41,476*

Supervising officers supervise and support prison officers and operational support grades.

You can apply to become a band 4 supervising officer once you have passed your band 3 prison officer probation period and completed specialist training. You can also apply for a level transfer from band 4 prison officer specialist. 

Supervising officers coordinate all aspects of prison life within a residential unit and will be included in prison wide rotas for the weekends and night duties. 

Within the supervising officer role there are options to specialise in either:  

  • suicide prevention
  • advanced control and restraint
  • first aid
  • hostage negotiation
  • mandatory drug testing
  • teaching control and restraint

Band 4 prison officer specialist

Salary: £36,020-£41,476*

Specialise in a range of roles

As a prison officer specialist, you can become either a:  

  • dog handler
  • offender manager
  • physical education officer
  • programmes officer
  • work in security intelligence 

You can apply to become a band 4 prison officer specialist once you have passed your band 3 prison officer probation period and completed specialist training. You can also apply for a level transfer from band 4 supervising officer.

Band 5 custodial manager

Salary: £39,132-£46,469*

Custodial managers are the most senior uniformed officers in a prison. They manage the prison activities, often across multiple departments. They are first line managers.

Custodial managers responsibilities include people and resource management. 

To become a custodial manager, you will need to complete a custodial manager accreditation. You can then apply for roles internally from band 3 or band 4.

Custodial managers responsibilities include people and resource management. 

Custodial managers can go on to specialise in either:  

  • programmes
  • dog handling
  • corruption prevention
  • dedicated search
  • regional lead roles

Senior management

Salary: up to £106,090

Senior management includes roles such as band 6-8 heads of functions who lead and manage a variety of areas within the prison such as reducing reoffending, security or residential. You can also advance to being a deputy governor and governor.

You can apply for senior management once you have gained experience as a band 5 custodial manager.

There are a range of leadership and talent programmes within HMPPS to help you advance to more senior roles.

You can also get relevant experience and skills to apply for senior management roles by either:

  • completing specialist training
  • taking part in job rotation and temporary redeployment

Solomon's story

Solomon started as a band 3 prison officer before being promoted through the ranks.

What could specialising in the Prison Service look like?

The Prison Service offers opportunities for a long and varied career. There are various roles you can choose to specialise in at different grades within the Prison Service. You will need to complete relevant training and apply.

Dog handling

  • Carry out searches or patrols with specially trained dogs
  • Ensure nothing illegal or dangerous is brought into the prison
  • Find prisoners who are missing or trying to escape

Physical education

  • Create and lead physical education programmes and activities for all prisoners
  • Lead on fitness courses and training


Lead on the running of rehabilitative programmes to address prisoners offending behaviour.

Security intelligence

Assess intelligence information to help prevent incidents in the prison.

Training others

Train new officers on things such as use of force, security practices and use of radios.

Working in Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork (ACCT)

  • Work with prisoners identified as being at risk of suicide or self-harm
  • Take action to reduce the risk they pose to themselves

Youth justice workers

Specialise working with 15 – 18 year olds in custody. Find out more by visiting our youth justice worker page.

Support to develop and progress

We support staff throughout their career to build their knowledge and experience, to help them grow in their current role or to progress. This can include:

  • Rotation: You’ll continue working at your current grade, gaining experience in a specialist department or a different category prison or youth offending institution
  • Temporary deployment: Staff can expand their skills, for example, working on change projects or to help shape policy in another unit or prison
  • Other opportunities: You can apply for our range of leadership and talent programmesReceive support throughout your career to achieve accreditations or complete specialist training required for promotion. The Race Action Programme also offers a progression buddy scheme for all grades

As we are part of the Ministry of Justice, your future career options do not just stop with the Prison Service. There are always opportunities to work for the Probation Service or diversify your career into other parts of the Ministry of Justice too. 

*based on 39 hours a week

** based on 37 hours a week