Prison Governor

Job Description:

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

Job Category:
Government & Public Services

What you will do:

As part of your day to day duties, you may:

  • manage prison security, standards and budgets
  • supervise prisoners and make inspections
  • support vulnerable prisoners and those at risk of self-harm
  • carry out disciplinary procedures
  • manage and motivate prison staff
  • update records and write reports
  • develop the prison to meet government targets, like the control of drugs
  • work with other professionals, such as medical staff, social workers and probation officers


You’ll need:

  • business management skills
  • customer service skills
  • knowledge of human resources and employment law
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • leadership skills
  • the ability to use your initiative (ambition)
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail (organisational skills)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

Becoming a Prison Governor typically involves a higher level of education and experience than what is typically covered in high school. It usually requires a degree or other higher education qualifications, often in a relevant field such as criminal justice, criminology, or public administration. However, having a strong educational foundation can certainly be helpful on your path to becoming a Prison Governor. Here are some subjects that can be relevant:

  1. English: Strong written and verbal communication skills are essential for a career in the criminal justice field, including as a Prison Governor.
  2. Mathematics: Basic math skills are useful for various aspects of administrative and management work within the prison system.
  3. Social Studies or Citizenship: These subjects can provide a foundation for understanding societal issues and the criminal justice system.
  4. Psychology or Sociology: An understanding of human behaviour and societal factors is valuable when working with inmates and staff in a prison environment.
  5. Law: If your school offers law courses, these can be relevant, although the study of law typically occurs at higher education levels.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • working towards this role
  • a management training scheme


You may be able to start as a prison officer and work your way up with further training and experience. You’ll need several years’ experience, including line management.

You would generally move into senior management jobs and eventually deputy governorship roles, then governor.

Companies that run private prisons have their own entry requirements. You can find details of privately managed prisons.

Other Routes

You may have an advantage if you’ve got a degree, though it’s not essential. Employers are just as interested in what you’ve achieved throughout your career.

Experience in management and excellent communication skills, as well as assertiveness and integrity, are important.

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 37-41 hours of work. You could be required to work evenings/weekends/bank holidays on a rota.

You could work in a prison. Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could work in a more secure prison. You could also work in the national headquarters. Another option is to work within prison service colleges or training units.