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Overview of the prison officer role

Someone like you

Working in a prison is a truly unique experience. No two shifts are the same. You’ve got to be resilient, confident and a great communicator.

Our prison officers perform a vital role in society, in an environment like no other. We are peacekeepers, teachers, counsellors. You could be too.

As a prison officer, you’ll be part of a diverse team doing meaningful work in our prisons.

You’ll work with a range of people and perform a variety of tasks – from keeping the prison safe and secure, to helping vulnerable people through a difficult time in their lives.

Prisons can be unpredictable, but it’s about working together and keeping calm under pressure while enjoying the little things, like helping a prisoner learn a new skill or teaching them to view things from a new perspective. 

It can be a challenging job, but in return you’ll get good pay, training and benefits, and have the support of a strong team.

Prison officer – an extraordinary job. Done by someone like you.

  • No qualifications needed
  • Starting salary of £32k to £38k for a 39 hour week
  • Skills you need: resilience, an ability to think on your feet, great communication skills, a team player
  • Must have good eyesight, hearing and be reasonably fit
  • Training for every situation
  • Be part of a strong, supportive team

Pay and benefits

Your pay depends on where you work in England and Wales, and your weekly shift hours.

You’ll start on a 37 hour contract until you have completed your initial training. You can then choose to increase your hours to 39 or 41 hours a week.

You can also earn more if overtime is available in your prison. Plus you’ll enjoy one of the best pension schemes in the UK and a range of great Civil Service benefits.

Band 3 prison officer 
(39 hour week including 20% unsocial hours allowance)
Inner London£38,445
Outer London£36,530 to £38,530*
South and South East£34,851 to £36,351*
Other locations£32,851
*includes market supplements

Take a look at the full starting salary information for HMPPS prisons across England and Wales.

Once you have qualified, you’ll have a range of opportunities to specialise and progress your career and earning potential.

Find out more about the benefits of working for HM Prison and Probation Service

The impact you can have

Video transcript

So, the impact on prisoners that I work with, can be significant to their day-to-day living in a prison. A lot of prisoners come in with problems that, they’re not able to deal with themselves, so will look to me as a bit of support. So for me, I think, it is very important to be that person that can come to and sit down and speak to.

We’re working in an environment where predominantly people that are rejected by the community, for one reason or another so it gives you an opportunity to make a change in someone’s life.

It’s so rewarding knowing that you’ve helped someone. Even if it’s as little as someone saying thank you or them doing something, you are helping them to become this better person.

I think the biggest sense of achievement and purpose, you get from this job is when you actually do feel like you are helping people that want to make that change and you can be there and play a small part in obviously, trying to direct them onto a different path.

Working with people who’s going through a rough period in their life, helping them go through that period is humbling.

For them to say hello to you and ask you how you’re doing and want you to come back on shift, it’s really rewarding to know that you are making a difference in their lives.

Find out more about being a prison officer in our blog (opens in a new tab).