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Prison governor Prison operational manager

Prison governors manage the security of prisons, remand centres and young offenders' institutions.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £39,500 to £75,500 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 42 per week

1. Entry requirements

You don’t need any qualifications, but you must be aged 18 or over and eligible to work in the UK.

It's common to start as out as a prison officer and work you way up. This could take 10 to 15 years.

You may also be able to join a National Offender Management Service (NOMS) graduate management course if there's one available. 

To become a prison officer you’ll need to take the online Prison Officer Selection Test (POST), which checks your numeracy skills.

If you pass, you'll attend an assessment day where you'll:

  • take another POST numeracy test to confirm your results
  • complete a POST language test
  • take part in role plays to see if you have the right personal qualities
  • have medical, eyesight and fitness tests

HM Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS) has more details.

Companies that run private prisons have their own entry requirements.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • the ability to maintain respect whilst applying rules and discipline
  • strong communication and leadership skills
  • the ability to make decisions quickly
  • the ability to remain calm in difficult circumstances

3. What you'll do

You may work in high security 'closed' prisons, or lower security 'open' prisons.

Your day-to-day duties will include:

  • managing prison security, standards and budgets
  • supervising prisoners and making inspections
  • supporting vulnerable prisoners and those at risk of self-harm
  • carrying out disciplinary procedures
  • managing and motivating prison staff
  • updating records and writing reports
  • developing the prison to meet government targets, like the control of drugs
  • working with other professionals, such as medical staff, social workers and probation officers

You may also train prison officers, take part in parole board meetings, and chair prisoner admission panels and release boards.

4. Salary

Starter: £39,500 to £60,750 (deputy governor Band 8 to 9)

Experienced: £55,750 to £66,750 (governor Band 10)

Highly Experienced: £63,000 to £75,500 (governor Band 11)

These figures are from the current ‘Fair and Sustainable’ pay scales, which apply to new recruits working a basic 37 hours a week outside London.

Further allowances are payable for increased hours and certain duties.

Private prisons set their own pay scales.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work 37 to 42 hours per week, including evenings and weekends.

Most of your work will be indoors and can be physically and emotionally demanding.

You may need to travel to meetings, courses and conferences.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could work in a more secure prison or join HM Inspectorate of Prisons.

You could also work in the national headquarters of HMPPS.

Another option is to work within prison service colleges or training units around the UK.

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Last updated: 06 June 2017