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Prison Instructor Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as a Prison Instructor. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as a Prison Instructor
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Prison Instructor Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Instructors train prison inmates in a variety of vocational subjects, to both help them make good use of their time in prison and to gain skills for employment after their release.

Instructors in prisons may be prison officer (instructors) - uniformed prison officers with particular skills and qualifications which they use to train inmates, or instructional officers - qualified civilians who are employed to train inmates and run work programmes.

The prison service engages prisoners in a wide range of activities including producing clothes and textiles; tailoring; knitwear; weaving; engineering; sheet metalwork; fabrication; plastic moulding; paint finishing; woodworking; motor vehicle mechanics; printing; leatherwork; construction skills such as plumbing, bricklaying and painting and decorating; horticulture and catering. Instructors train prisoners in their specialist trade.

Prisons also run education programmes to encourage inmates to improve their literacy, numeracy and life skills.

Commercial enterprises may be set up to provide goods and services either within the prison or outside, such as farm produce, data entry and word processing services. In some establishments these commercial enterprises are run by private companies on contracts with the prison service. In these cases the company employs the instructors/trainers.

Inmates are actively encouraged to work towards qualifications such as NVQs/SVQs and City and Guilds qualifications.

Hours and Environment

Instructors generally work a 37 hour, five day week. Location varies according to the subject being taught. It may be indoors in small factories, workshops or classrooms, or outdoors if involved in farming or horticulture.

Skills and Interests

Prison instructors should be:

  • interested in and enthusiastic about their specialist trade and helping people to learn
  • able to communicate clearly and possess strong training skills
  • interested in people, able to build good relationships and gain the trust of inmates
  • able to motivate prisoners and help them make the most of their opportunities
  • able to work closely with prisoners whilst remaining emotionally uninvolved
  • capable of managing small groups of people
  • patient and have a sense of humour
  • able to use powers of judgement to assess potentially difficult situations
  • be able to apply safe working practices.


Prison officer instructors need to meet all the criteria to become a prison officer. These include nationality, security, medical and fitness requirements. See the profile on Prison Officer for details.

Instructional officers must have completed either a recognised apprenticeship in their trade or a City and Guilds Advanced Certificate/BTEC/SCOTVEC NC/NVQ and at have least five years'' experience.

In addition, instructional officers need instructional, supervisory or teaching experience and a knowledge of NVQ/SVQs where this is relevant. Some posts may require further education teaching, literacy/numeracy teaching or NVQ/SVQ assessing qualifications. For further information on this see the profiles for Lecturer: Further Education and NVQ/SVQ Assessor/Verifier.

The upper age limit for entry is 59 in England and Wales, and 57 in Scotland.


Training generally begins with a one-week induction course at the establishment you will be joining as an instructor, followed by four weeks industrial training with experienced training instructors.

Continuing professional development schemes are available, and instructors are encouraged to gain additional skills and qualifications, such as an NVQ/SVQ in training and development or a further education teaching qualification.


In England and Wales, there are approximately 1,000 civilian instructors. That number is likely to increase as the prison population is rising. However, opportunities for prison officers to move into instruction and training are declining, as Home Office policy is to recruit more civilian instructors.

In Scotland few civilian instructors are recruited as preference is given to recruiting prison officers with the practical skills or trades to teach inmates.

Instructors are generally recruited as grade 1 instructional officers and may be promoted to higher instructional officer. Some may move up to managing a training centre or unit, or working in a head office.

There has been significant growth recently in the use of private companies in prison work. Each of these companies will have its own way of managing the role of those who work as instructors.

Annual Income

This section is intended as a guideline only.

Prison officer (instructors) are paid on the same salary scale as a prison officer, starting at around £16,725 rising to £23,065.
An instructional officer earns £15,810 rising to £21,606.

Local pay allowances of £1,000 to £3,500 may be payable in some establishments. Civilian instructors may work on a freelance basis and may be paid an hourly rate.

Further information

HM Prison Service
Room 328
Cleland House
Page Street
Tel: 020 7217 6055
Recruitment helpline: 0845 300 0790

The Scottish Prison Service
Calton House
5 Redheughs Rigg
EH12 9HW
Tel: 0131 244 8703

Offenders Learning and Skills Unit (Department for Education and Skills)

The Custodial Care NTO *
Churchill House
12 Mosley St
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tel: 0191 230 8072

National Training Organisations (NTOs) ceased to be recognised by the government on 31 March 2002. However, some are continuing to operate in their respective fields. Please contact individual NTOs with queries regarding their current status.

The Secretary of State for Education and Skills is licensing new Sector Skills Councils - charged with boosting skills and productivity in business sectors. For information about Sector Skills Councils, their roles and responsibilities, please visit the Sector Skills Development Agency website:

Other Useful Prison Instructor Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Prison Instructor job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Prison Instructor Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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