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Youth justice worker career progression

Joining HM Prison and Probation Service as a youth justice worker gives you a range of career opportunities. You can specialise or progress once you have completed your probationary period and gained the necessary skills and experience.

Progression opportunities

Band 4 youth justice worker specialist – salary starting from £38,542

After you have successfully completed your level 4 child-focused qualification, you’ll progress to a band 4 youth justice worker specialist role. The qualification will take 15 months to complete.

If you do not achieve the level 4 qualification, you’ll be transferred to a prison officer role at an adult prison.

Band 5 custodial manager – salary starting from £41,872

Custodial managers are the most senior uniformed officers in a Young Offender Institution (YOI). They manage the YOI activities, often across multiple departments. They are first line managers.

You’ll need to complete a custodial manager accreditation to become a custodial manager. 

Senior management – salary up to £116,011

Once you’ve gained experience as a custodial manager, you can apply for senior management roles.

These include roles such as band 6 to 8 heads of functions who lead and manage a variety of areas within the YOI such as reducing reoffending, security or residential. You can also advance to being a deputy Governor and Governor.

Opportunities to specialise

There are a variety of routes you can take to specialise at all grades when you are a youth justice worker.

For each of these specialisms you’ll need to complete training and then apply for a specialist role.

Physical education instructor (PEI)


  • create and lead physical education programmes and activities for the YOIs children and young people
  • lead on fitness courses and training


You could lead on running rehabilitative programmes to address the offending behaviours of children and young people.

Resettlement practitioner

In this role, you’ll support the resettlement of children and young people as they prepare to return to their communities or transition to a young adults’ custody setting.

As a core member of the resettlement team, you’ll prepare and review individuals’ resettlement plans, ensuring any harmful behaviours they may have are identified and supported. Working closely with a range of stakeholders, you’ll take a coordinated approach to ensure the best outcomes for individual children and young people.