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How to become a Prison Officer

Prison officers (also known as correctional officers) work in prisons and other correctional or detention institutions. They’re responsible for supervising and controlling the activities of inmates, as well as carrying out other functions such as educational and rehabilitation programs.

If you enjoy working with people, are able to remain calm and authoritative in any situation, and you’re looking for a career that’s different every day, working as a prison officer could be ideal for you.

What skills do I need as a prison officer?

  • Assertive and confident
  • Physically and mentally resilient
  • Fair and empathetic
  • Good cultural awareness
  • Great team-worker
  • Excellent problem solver
  • Calm and professional, even in emergencies
  • Can think on your feet

What tasks can I expect to do?

  • Supervise inmates at all times
  • Prevent disturbances and escape attempts
  • Carry out routine or unplanned searches and inspections
  • Implement prisoner activities, including exercise, education, rehabilitation, or work programs
  • Move prisoners between locations, e.g. court or other institutions
  • Complete paperwork and reports
  • Respond to emergency situations and other incidents
  • Follow strict procedures and guidelines

What industries do prison officers typically work in?

  • Public Administration and Safety
  • Administrative and Support Services
  • Health Care and Social Assistance

What kind of lifestyle can I expect as a prison officer?

Prison officers often have to work long shifts and work outside of normal business hours, including overnights, weekends, and holidays. A majority of the work must also be done on-site, so remote work or working from home options are very limited. However, there is lots of potential for flexible work schedules, often with generous leave entitlements.

Your work will be done in a mix of indoor and outdoor environments. Prison officers are generally found in prisons, correctional and detention facilities, police stations, and courthouses.

Most prison officers earn an average wage.

Despite the inherent risks and difficulties of the job, many prison officers find their work to be incredibly rewarding. They have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of inmates, helping them to turn their lives around and reintegrate into society.

How to become a prison officer

While formal qualifications aren’t always a requirement, prison officers undergo extensive training in communication, conflict resolution, and security procedures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of both inmates and staff. You may have to obtain some licenses or pass specific tests as part of the selection process when applying for jobs.

If you’re in high school now and are thinking of becoming a prison officer, here are some steps you could take:

  • Study English and Mathematics at high school. Completing these subjects will equip you with the basic knowledge you need for work or further study.
  • Research any relevant vocational qualifications that can provide you with relevant skills and knowledge to make you more attractive to prospective employers.
  • While prisons and correctional facilities probably won’t take on work experience students, you could contact police stations and courthouses near you and ask about work experience or volunteering opportunities to get a taste of the field and start making connections.

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