Prison governor

operational manager
Security, uniformed and protective services

Career outlook for prison governor

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

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


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


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.


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

UK employment status





Self employed


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Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Resilience
  • Coaching
  • Taking responsibility
  • Motivating others
  • Making decisions
  • Taking initiative
  • Managing resources
  • Attention to detail
  • Cooperating
  • Respecting

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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.


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.