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HM Prison & Probation Service Careers

When you help others make better choices, be appreciated for it.

Prison Officers. You at your best.

Prison officers do varied, interesting and skilful work. If you have the qualities we are looking for it could be a very rewarding career. To begin with, depending on your contracted hours, prison officer starting salaries can be £30,000 or more in London and the South East, and up to £23,572 in other locations. (See FAQs for details.)  In addition, you’ll receive a number of benefits including a pension, a generous holiday allowance and the ability to earn overtime.

Here, you’ll discover more about our recruitment process. It’ll tell you what we look for in our prison officers, as well as help you understand more about the role.

Not what you're looking for? Click on the links for Probation Officers and Probation Service Officers jobs.

What is HM Prison & Probation Service?

What is HMPPS?

What is HM Prison & Probation Service?


Created in April 2017, Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) is a new agency in the Ministry of Justice, covering 121 prisons and employing over 42,000 staff. Our mission: to drive the biggest reform of our prison system in a generation. Across the UK, we're committed to improving how we rehabilitate offenders and protect the public. 

We want to build real pride in the prison service and make it a place where ambitious professionals thrive. By applying to a local prison, you'll become part of a major organisation that invests in people. And for our prison officers, that means creating opportunities for higher pay, recognition and development through our promotion, leadership and apprenticeship programmes.

The role

The role

As a prison officer, your career can take you in many different directions. Developing your skills from day one, the chances to move into new areas will always be there. You could be on a residential wing, in reception, in the segregation unit, working with vulnerable prisoners, with mothers and babies, or on the healthcare unit.

Click here to listen to what serving officers have to say about the job.

Question mark

What else is in it for you?



You'll spend your first week of training in your establishment meeting your future colleagues and learning about our routine. After this week, you'll start on our Prison Officer Entry Level Training (POELT) course. On this comprehensive training programme (which is either residential or local depending on your location) you'll develop the interpersonal skills that will help you manage people in custody.

You'll also learn techniques that prepare you for any situation in a dynamic prison environment, including search and security procedures as well as control and restraint techniques. At the end of this course, you will complete the Skills For Justice (SFJ) Level 3 Diploma  in the management and care of individuals in the custodial environment. You will also have the opportunity to participate in more training as you progress through the Service.

See a prison officer talk about what he enjoys about the job

By taking on such responsibility for our prisoners and the public, it’s only right that you’re recognised for your work, and there’s no doubt that this role is well rewarded.

In addition to your salary (see FAQs) you’ll join the Civil Service pension scheme. You will also receive a number of other benefits, including 25 days’ holiday allowance each year, childcare vouchers, season ticket loans, retail discounts, Employee Assistance Programme and Cycle to Work scheme.

Talk to us on Facebook to find out more.

The recruitment process

Our process has been designed to make applying for a role as easy and efficient as possible. Each step of the journey will allow you to demonstrate your unique skills and qualities, and give us a greater insight into the kind of prisoner officer you could be.

Are you eligible?

First, you'll need to meet our essential criteria, which includes having the right to work in the UK. Beyond that, we'll check things like your eyesight and physical fitness. We'll also expect you to pass a basic maths test and demonstrate the personal qualities we're looking for, when you come in for an assessment day.
These tests aren't just to make the selection process easier. They're designed to make sure you have the right skills and attitude to get the most from the role. You can get a sense of what each test involves by downloading the practice tests on the links below.

Find out more

Find out about the fitness test that prison officer candidates complete at a RAD
Find out about the fitness test that prison officer candidates complete at a RAD226 days ago
Rebecca's story: being a prison officer
Rebecca's story: being a prison officer 310 days ago
Leigh's story: being a prison officer
Leigh's story: being a prison officer 310 days ago
Leigh's story: my life as a prison officer
Leigh's story: my life as a prison officer 320 days ago
Rebecca's story: my life as a prison officer
Rebecca's story: my life as a prison officer 320 days ago
HM Prison and Probation Service – A new agency
HM Prison and Probation Service – A new agency 323 days ago
Question mark

Frequently Asked Questions

You don’t need any specific qualifications for this role. We’re much more interested in your personal qualities and life experience.

Yes, you will be provided with a uniform.

With continued investment in training, we’ve increased prison officer training to 12 weeks: 10 weeks of that is the Prison Officer Entry Level Training (POELT) course and weeks 1 and 12 are hosted by the home establishment.

Week 1 provides new officers with the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the establishment layout, the role of the establishment and the work they will be expected to carry out after training. Week 2-11 is formal training which is delivered at one of a number of training sites across England and Wales; this is known as Prison Officer Entry Level Training (POELT).

On successful completion of the formal training new officers will return to their establishment for week 12 where they will have a consolidation week, this gives them the opportunity to apply the learning from formal training.

The course combines a mixture of theory and practice-based classroom and dojo activities, each session within the course aims to give new officers a knowledge and understanding of the following:

  • Health and safety responsibilities
  • Organisational, legal and moral responsibility to those in custody
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Safer custody in custodial environments
  • Offending behaviour and methods for reducing re-offending
  • Operating safely
  • Operating securely
  • Recording and reporting
  • Use of force
  • Searching individuals
  • Escorting
  • Pro-social behaviour in working relationships with individuals

New officers are continually assessed during the course using a range of different practical and written assessment methods. All assessments are designed to test skills and to check knowledge, for example the practical assessments aim to demonstrate competence in:

  • Radio procedures and urgent message
  • Rub down searching
  • Full search
  • Cell searching
  • Handcuffing
  • Accommodation fabric check
  • Roll checks
  • Locking and unlocking

During the course new officers will be required to complete the SFJ Level 3 Diploma in the management and care of individuals in the custodial environment.

The main objective of this qualification is to provide them with the knowledge, and many of the skills, required to work in custodial environments.

It is a requirement that they complete this qualification during the POELT course in order to take up full duties as a prison officer.

In order to gain the qualification, they must successfully complete:

  • A written final summative assessment paper (knowledge & scenario-based questioning)
  • 12 knowledge-based work books (Level 3 qualification)
  • A range of practical skills assessments (Level 3 qualification)
  • Use of force - theory and practical (Level 3 qualification)
  • Demonstrating and maintaining professional standards

They are also required to complete the following:

  • Work with others to produce a work-based project
  • A weekly personal development journal
  • A range of personal reflection records

Prison Officer Entry-Level Training (POELT) is a full-time program for new prison officers, for the first 12 weeks they are in post.

POELT is paid on a 37 hours a week basis, once prison officers finish POELT they have the option to increase their contracted hours to 39 or 41 hours, or remain at 37 hours a week.

Prison officers can opt to work either a 37, 39 or 41 hour week. You will work on a rolling shift pattern, usually of 39 hours, which includes some nights and some weekends and some public and bank holidays (any public or bank holidays you work will be added to your annual leave allowance – find out more below).

Your salary will be dependent on the number of hours you work. You will have the opportunity to work overtime in certain circumstances.

Work/life balance options such as part-time hours and job shares are also available, subject to completion of your 10-week full-time POELT course and induction.

As a prison officer, even if you never go for promotion, your career can take you in many different directions. As you will have read under ‘The role’, there are a lot of different areas where you can develop your career. All of these responsibilities require different skills. If you want to specialise further, you’ll have the opportunity to train to become a physical education officer, a dog handler, or, when you look back and remember the people who first helped you along – perhaps become a trainer yourself.

Working closely with your team, you'll have a number of key responsibilities that make rehabilitation possible. The first one's pretty obvious: You'll make sure the prison is safe and secure, and that all offenders are accounted for. Beyond that, it'll be up to you to supervise daily routines, giving offenders much-needed structure in their lives. You'll also act as a role model, doing what you can to encourage constructive choices. There'll definitely be days when you feel more like a guard than a guardian of change. But imagine the sense of satisfaction that'll come from helping people turn their lives around.

Salaries in Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) vary between different grades, areas and individual prisons. To find out what you could earn depending on your situation, download the PDF below.

Prison Officer salaries – more information (pdf, 294kb)

For salary details specific to your local prison, please refer to job advert for details of salary for your selected establishment.

The standard working week for a prison officer is based on 37 hours. Working 39 hours is dependent on completing POELT and opting in to a 39 hour week.

You will also be entitled to a wide range of benefits, including a civil service pension (for more info, visit, exclusive retail discounts, generous leave, and more.

Maternity or Adoption Leave – Staff are entitled to 52 weeks leave.  26 weeks of this will be paid at full pay and the remaining 26 weeks is made up of 13 weeks at statutory pay and 13 weeks unpaid.  Qualifying conditions apply for both contractual and statutory entitlements.


Shared Parental Leave – allows women on maternity leave or the primary adopter to share their leave/pay with their partner.  Qualifying conditions apply.


Paternity/Maternity Support leave – staff are entitled to one or two weeks leave at full pay.  Qualifying conditions apply.

To be able to apply for a post in the Ministry of Justice, certain nationality criteria need to be met.

  You must be either:

  • A United kingdom or Ireland national
  • A Commonwealth citizen or a British protected person
  • A national of the European Economic Area (EEA), including Switzerland
  • A Turkish national who has been lawfully employed in the UK for four years in any job, or lawfully employed for three years in a job within the same occupation as the post they wish to take up within the civil service.
  • A Non- EEA national who is the family member of an EEA, Swiss or qualifying Turkish national (as above) from another member state (non-UK) who has moved to the UK for an approved purpose.


It takes a special kind of person to be a great prison officer, but if you have the right skills it could be one of the most life-changing moves you’ve ever made. If you've been through the site and feel ready to start a rewarding new profession, it’s time to apply.

Thanks for taking the time to discover more about the role and our recruitment process.

Good luck with your application.

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