Prison Officers supervise and control the activities of inmates in prisons and other correctional institutions.

A Certificate II or III, or at least 1 year of relevant experience, is usually needed to work in this job. Around half of workers have a Certificate III/IV. Sometimes experience or on-the-job training is needed in addition to a qualification.

Tasks

  • observing the conduct and behaviour of prisoners to prevent disturbances and escapes
  • inspecting and maintaining the security of locks, window bars, grilles, doors and gates
  • supervising prisoners during work assignments, recreational periods, sporting activities and meals
  • assisting with the implementation of education, rehabilitation and other programs organised for prisoners
  • searching prisoners and cells for weapons, drugs and other contraband items
  • patrolling assigned areas and reporting breaches of rules, unsatisfactory attitudes and prisoner adjustment problems
  • requisitioning prisoners' clothing, toiletries, reading material and other allowable items
  • supervising prisoners in transit between courts, prisons and other facilities

Job Titles

  • Prison Officer
  • Prison Officer (also called Correctional Officer)

    Specialisations: Custodial Officer

Fast Facts

  • Avg. Weekly Pay

    $1,452 Before Tax
  • Future Growth

    moderate
  • Skill Level

    Certificate II or III
  • Employment Size

    17,700
  • Unemployment

    below average
  • Male Share

    79.0%
  • Female Share

    21.0%
  • Full-Time Share

    95.4%

Find Vacancies

This is a medium sized occupation employing 17,700 workers. Over the past 5 years the number of jobs has grown strongly.
Moderate growth is expected in the future. New jobs and turnover from workers leaving may create between 10,001 and 25,000 job openings over the 5 years to 2020.

  • Prison Officers work in most parts of Australia.
  • They nearly all work in Public Administration and Safety.
  • Almost all work full-time. Full-time workers, on average, work 36.0 hours per week (compared to the all jobs average of 40 hours).
  • Average earnings for full-time workers are around $1,452 per week (higher than the all jobs average of $1,230). Earnings tend to be lower when starting out and higher as experience grows.
  • The workforce is fairly mature. The average age is 47 years (compared to the all jobs average of 40 years) and around 6 in 10 workers are aged 45 years or older.
  • Around 8 in 10 workers are male.
  • In 2016, the unemployment rate was below average.

Employment Outlook

Number of Workers

Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Employment trend data to November 2015 and Department of Employment projections to 2020.
YearNumber of Workers
200511400
200612100
20078800
20089000
200916300
201012300
201115100
201213400
201317000
201416000
201517700
202019100

Weekly Earnings

Full-time Earnings

All Jobs Average

Weekly Earnings (before tax)

Source: Based on ABS Characteristics of Employment survey, August 2015, Cat. No. 6333.0, Customised Report. Median earnings are before tax and do not include superannuation. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. These figures should be used as a guide only, not to determine a wage rate.
EarningsPrison OfficersAll Jobs Average
Full-Time Earnings14521230

Hours

Weekly Hours Worked

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Hours actually worked by people who usually work full-time, and share of employment by full-time and part-time status, for this job compared to the all jobs average.
CategoryPrison OfficersAll Jobs Average
Full-time95.468.4
Part-time4.631.6
Average Weekly Hours (full-time)36.040.0

Main Industries

Top Industries

Main Employing Industries (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Industries are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC 06).
Main Employing IndustriesIndustry (% share)
Public Administration and Safety98.8
Accommodation and Food Services1.2

States and Territories

  • NSW

  • VIC

  • QLD

  • SA

  • TAS

  • NT

  • ACT

Employment by State and Territory (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian States and Territories, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
StatePrison OfficersAll Jobs Average
NSW32.031.8
VIC24.125.5
QLD17.719.8
SA6.76.8
WA12.411.2
TAS2.02.0
NT4.61.1
ACT0.51.8

Age Profile

Age Profile (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age BracketPrison OfficersAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
15-190.9-5.45.4
20-243.1-9.99.9
25-3417.6-23.423.4
35-4423.0-21.721.7
45-5435.1-21.121.1
55-597.8-8.78.7
60-6410.6-5.95.9
65 and Over2.1-3.83.8

Gender

Male Share

Female Share

Gender (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Male and female share of employment in this job compared to the all jobs average.
CategoryPrison OfficersCategoryAll Jobs Average
Males79.0Males53.6
Females21.0Females46.4

Education Level

Top Education Levels

Highest Level of Education (% share)

Source: ABS, Education and Work (2016). Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Skill level requirements can change over time, the qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Type of QualificationPrison OfficersAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate5.1-8.68.6
Bachelor degree0.0-17.917.9
Advanced Diploma/Diploma13.7-10.110.1
Certificate III/IV60.0-18.918.9
Year 124.0-18.718.7
Years 11 & 1017.1-17.717.7
Below Year 100.0-8.18.1

A Certificate II or III, or at least 1 year of relevant experience, is usually needed to work in this job.
Around half of workers have a Certificate III/IV. Sometimes experience or on-the-job training is needed in addition to a qualification.

If you are interested in this style of work, there are a wide range of training options available that could lead to this or a similar job.
The pathway that is right for you will depend on your skills and interests.

It is a good idea to speak to industry bodies, employers, and workers to learn more about the skills and qualifications you will need.

Employers look for Prison Officers who are caring, compassionate and empathetic and can communicate clearly with a diverse range of people.

Knowledge

The topics, subjects, or knowledge areas workers rate as most important are shown below.

  1. Public Safety and Security

    95% Important

    Use of equipment, rules and ideas to protect people, data, property, and institutions.

  2. Law and Government

    77% Important

    How our laws and courts work. Government rules and regulations, and the political system.

  3. English Language

    76% Important

    English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

  4. Clerical

    69% Important

    Word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office work.

  5. Administration and Management

    68% Important

    Planning and coordination of people and resources.

Occupational Information Network First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Correctional Officers Opens in a new window
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. The information on this site is derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2

Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.

Activities

The work activities workers rate as most important are shown below.

  1. Getting Information

    92% Important

    Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.

  2. Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Staff

    85% Important

    Giving information to supervisors, co-workers, and staff by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

  3. Documenting/Recording Information

    85% Important

    Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

  4. Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others

    83% Important

    Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving conflicts, and negotiating with people.

  5. Checking Compliance with Standards

    81% Important

    Deciding whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.

Occupational Information Network First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Correctional Officers Opens in a new window
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. The information on this site is derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2

go to top