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

Also known as: Correctional Officer.

Specialisations: Custodial Officer.

You usually need to pass a selection process and undertake pre-service training before you can work as a Prison Officer. Those who complete the training program are awarded a nationally recognised 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

All Prison Officers

  • $1,580 Weekly Pay
  • Strong Future Growth
  • Lower unemployment Unemployment
  • 16,300 workers Employment Size
  • Lower skill Skill level rating
  • 92% Full-Time Full-Time Share
  • 44 hours Average full-time
  • 46 years Average age
  • 27% female Gender Share

The number of people working as Prison Officers (in their main job) is about the same as 5 years ago and is expected to grow strongly over the next 5 years:
from 16,300 in 2018 to 17,700 by 2023.
Job openings can come from new jobs being created, but most come from turnover (workers leaving).
There are likely to be around 11,000 job openings over 5 years (that's about 2,200 a year).

  • Size: This is a medium sized occupation.
  • Unemployment: Unemployment was below average in 2018.
  • Location: Prison Officers work in many parts of Australia. Western Australia has a large share of workers.
  • Industries: Most work in the Public Administration and Safety industry.
  • Earnings: Full-time workers on an adult wage earn around $1,580 per week (similar to the average of $1,460). Earnings tend to be lower when starting out and higher as experience grows.
  • Full-time: Most work full-time (92%, much higher than the average of 66%).
  • Hours: Full-time workers spend around 44 hours per week at work (compared to the average of 44 hours).
  • Age: The average age is 46 years (compared to the average of 40 years). Many workers are 45 years or older (54%).
  • Gender: 27% of workers are female (compared to the average of 48%).

Employment Outlook

Number of Workers

Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Jobs and Small Business trend data to May 2018 and Department of Jobs and Small Business projections to 2023.
YearNumber of Workers
200810000
200914100
201012100
201114400
201213200
201315900
201418000
201514900
201616800
201725300
201816300
202317700

Weekly Earnings

Weekly Earnings (Before Tax)

Source: Based on ABS Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours (cat. no. 6306.0), May 2018, Customised Report. Median weekly total cash earnings for full-time non-managerial employees paid at the adult rate. Earnings are before tax and include amounts salary sacrificed. 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 Earnings15801460

Main Industries

Main Employing Industries (% Share)

Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Industries are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC 06).
Main Employing IndustriesIndustry (% share)
Public Administration and Safety98.5
Health Care and Social Assistance0.5
Financial and Insurance Services0.3
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services0.3
Other Industries0.4

States and Territories

  • NSW

  • VIC

  • QLD

  • SA

  • TAS

  • NT

  • ACT

Employment by State and Territory (% Share)

Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian States and Territories, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
StatePrison OfficersAll Jobs Average
NSW28.831.6
VIC22.325.6
QLD17.720.0
SA8.37.0
WA16.710.8
TAS2.02.0
NT3.11.0
ACT1.01.9

Age Profile

Age Profile (% Share)

Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age BracketPrison OfficersAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
15-190.1-5.05.0
20-243.3-9.39.3
25-3417.1-22.922.9
35-4425.2-22.022.0
45-5431.0-21.621.6
55-5912.7-9.09.0
60-647.5-6.06.0
65 and Over3.1-4.24.2

Education Level

Highest Level of Education (% Share)

Source: ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). 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 Certificate2.9-10.110.1
Bachelor degree8.4-21.821.8
Advanced Diploma/Diploma13.9-11.611.6
Certificate III/IV45.1-21.121.1
Year 1214.5-18.118.1
Year 115.0-4.84.8
Year 10 and below10.1-12.512.5

You usually need to pass a selection process and undertake pre-service training before you can work as a Prison Officer. Those who complete the training program are awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

Checks, licences and tickets

You may need:

  • driver's licence
  • national police check
  • first aid certificate
  • medical test
  • Psychometric or aptitude tests

Thinking about study or training?

Before starting a course, check it will provide you with the skills and qualifications you need.

  • Compare Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, providers and student outcomes on the My Skills website.
  • You might be interested in Correctional Services VET training pathways on the AAPathways website.

Or check out related courses on Job Outlook.

The course listings on this page are provided by Good Education Group.

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

Filter Skills & Knowledge

Knowledge

These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.

  1. Public safety and security

    77% Skill level

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

  2. Psychology

    65% Skill level

    Human behaviour; differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; research methods; assessing and treating disorders.

  3. Customer and personal service

    62% Skill level

    Understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.

  4. Law and government

    59% Skill level

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

  5. Computers and electronics

    58% Skill level

    Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Occupational Information Network
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The skills and importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 33-3012.00 - Correctional Officers and Jailers.

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.

Filter Work Environment

Demands

The physical and social demands workers face most often are shown below.

  1. Contact with people

    99% Important

    Have contact with people by telephone, face-to-face, or any other way.

  2. Angry or unpleasant people

    95% Important

    Deal with unpleasant, angry, or rude people.

  3. Teamwork

    94% Important

    Work with people in a group or team.

  4. Telephone

    92% Important

    Talk on the telephone.

  5. Health and safety of others

    91% Important

    Take responsibility for the health and safety of others.

Occupational Information Network
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The skills and importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 33-3012.00 - Correctional Officers and Jailers.

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