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Where Can A Career In Prisons Service Take You?

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Overview

The justice system relies upon dedicated individuals to work in the prisons service and ensure that criminals serve their sentences. They also play an active role in rehabilitating offenders so they can be valuable members of society when they return.

Roles in the prison service include officers, administration staff, healthcare professionals and operational managers. There is also a team of people required to maintain the building and facilities.

To work in the prison service you have to be extremely disciplined and able to enforce rules whilst remaining respectful of others. The work can be challenging, but you are helping to serve justice and rehabilitate prisoners.

Whilst prison officers are a vital part of the prison service there are a myriad of other roles that the rehabilitation process of prisoners depends upon such as psychologists, operational staff, probation workers and prison instructors.

All of these teams work together to ensure that the rehabilitation work is as effective as possible. You will have to communicate between teams; it’s a very collaborative process.

A prison is not a typical work environment. You could be faced with difficult situations and you will work with offenders that have done crimes of varying severities. It’s important that you are able to abstain from judgement and dedicate yourself to providing good care and service when you are at work.

There is also currently a shortage of prison staff throughout the country, so the pay can be quite generous.

Skills & interests required

An interest in the prisons service and rehabilitation program will help you, as ultimately you need to have the best interests of the prisoners at heart.

You will likely face difficult situations and potentially confrontation. Therefore, you need to be able to remain calm and react quickly in a stressful situation.

Other skills that will benefit you in the prison service are:

  • Diligence
  • Resilience
  • Communication
  • Optimism
  • Discipline
  • Organisation

Typical Career Progression Routes for Graduates in Prisons Service

Progression within the prison service can be varied as it depends which role you are in.

Prison officers can work up to managerial and supervisory positions, which will involve more responsibilities and increased pay. When you have enough experience and have a good grasp of the functionalities of a prison across all different levels you could get an accredited qualification in senior management that will allow you to go on and govern your own prison.

Many graduates who work in the prisons service eventually move into government, working for the Ministry of Justice and influencing how the prison service will be in the future alongside working on legislation and policies to maintain the current standards.

Tips for getting into the field

Research the recruitment process for the specific role that you want and try to practice the assessment elements beforehand.

Any work that builds up your resilience or puts you in a potentially challenging environment – even dealing with complaints in a customer service job – will help strengthen your application.

Earning potential

The earning potential will depend on the role that you are in, but some typical salaries within the prison service (according to the National Careers Service) are:

Prison officer £20,750 - £38,000

Forensic psychologist - £20,000-£70,000

Prison governor - £39,500-£75,500

Probation officer– £22,000-£40,000

Qualification requirements & subjects to study

To become a prison officer there are no formal requirements, but you’ll have to do a 10 week training course at the Prison Service College.

All applicants must also take an online test to assess your personality and if you would be suited to the role. You must also attend a recruitment assessment day that will involve role-playing and interviews.

For other roles, such as forensic psychologist, you will likely need to have a degree.

Useful resources

Prison and probation jobs

HM Prison Service