Prison governor

operational manager

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would lead and manage a team of prison officers to keep people secure when they are in a prison, remand centre or young offenders' institution.

It would also be your responsibility to make sure that prisoners are cared for and that they get support to prepare for life outside prison.

In order to do this job well you would need to be very assertive and able to deal with unpredictable, and sometimes aggressive, behaviour. However, you would also have to be sensitive to the needs of the prisoners in your care.

Your exact duties would depend on the type of prison, its level of security and the age of the prisoners. Larger prisons can have several governors at different grades.

In general, you would:

  • Keep the prison secure
  • Make inspections
  • Carry out disciplinary actions
  • Write reports
  • Manage budgets and resources
  • Make sure the prison meets government targets, for example on inmate welfare
  • Work with other professionals, such as doctors and social workers

You might also train prison officers, go to parole board meetings, and chair prisoner admission panels and release boards. There may be opportunities to work in the national headquarters, or within prison service colleges.

Working conditions

Hours

Your hours of work can be long, and may include evenings and weekends. There may be some opportunities for part-time hours.

Environment

Prisons are found all over the country in towns and the countryside. As a governor you could be posted to any establishment in the country.

Travel

You are likely to do some travelling to attend meetings, courses and conferences outside the prison.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Working as part of a team
  • Taking the lead
  • Making decisions

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

There are no set qualifications. Many prison governors progress into this role after years of experience as a prison officer. 

As a prison officer working for the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), you would have the opportunity to gain management and leadership qualifications to help you progress in the service. 

A degree (SCQF Level 9/10) in subjects such as psychology, sociology or business management would be useful but not mandatory. 

Direct entry recruitment as a prison governor does not take place on a regular basis in Scotland. When recruitment does take place, entry it is extremely competitive.

Useful subjects

  • Maths (required by most employers) 
  • English (required by most employers)
  • Social studies such as business management
  • Modern studies
  • Media
  • Psychology

You will also need

To work for the Scottish Prison Service you must meet nationality and criminal conviction criteria. You can find this on the Scottish Prison Service website.

You would need to pass a medical examination. In Scotland, applicants are considered up to the age of 63.

You must declare all criminal convictions, and some may prevent you from getting in.

You need to be approved for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme run by Disclosure Scotland.

Helpful to have

Experience in work such as security, police or the armed services.