Prison Officers supervise and control the activities of inmates in prisons and other correctional institutions.
Also known as: Correctional Officer.
Specialisations: Custodial Officer.
Formal qualifications are not needed to apply to become a Prison Officer, but applicants need to pass a rigorous selection process and undertake pre-service training.
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
Vocational Education and Training (VET)
Informal or on-the-job
JSA produces employment projections to show where likely future job opportunities may be. The latest data are for the five years from November 2021 to November 2026. Over this period, the number of workers:
- is expected to grow moderately
- is likely to reach 15,300 by 2026.
Source: Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Notes: The number employed includes people who work in this occupation as their main job. People who work in more than one job are counted against the occupation they work the most hours in.
Employment projections figures are rounded to the nearest 100. Calculations based on these rounded figures may result in differences to the numbers that are displayed on this page. Employment projections data (including occupations) can be downloaded from the Employment Projections page.
Number of Workers
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, ABS seasonally adjusted data to November 2021 and Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Earnings and hours
Around 92% of people employed as Prison Officers work full-time hours, in all their jobs combined. This is 26 percentage points above the all jobs average (66%).
Full-time workers work an average of 44 hours per week in their main job. This is the same as the all jobs average.
More than half of workers regularly work overtime or extra hours (either paid or unpaid).
Median full-time earnings are $1,792 per week, this is much higher than the all jobs median ($1,593):
- 3 in 4 workers earn more than $1,586
- 1 in 4 earn more than $2,020
Median hourly earnings are $45, this is more than the all jobs median ($41 per hour).
Sources: Full-time share and full-time hours: ABS, 2016 Census, customised report. Compared to the all jobs average. Overtime hours: ABS, Characteristics of Employment, 2021. Full-time median earnings and median hourly earnings: ABS, Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021. Compared to all jobs median.
Weekly Earnings (Before Tax)
|Earnings||Prison Officers||All Jobs Average|
Source: Based on ABS Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021, 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.
Most Prison Officers work in the Public administration and safety industry.
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2021.
Employment across Australia
Employment by State and Territory (% Share)
|State||Prison Officers||All Jobs Average|
Around 54% of Prison Officers live outside of capital cities, compared with the all jobs average of 38%.
Western Australia has a large share of employment relative to its population size.
The regions with the largest share of workers are:
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian states, territories and regions, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age and gender
The median age of Prison Officers is 46 years. This is higher than the all jobs average of 40 years.
A large share of workers are aged 45 to 54 years.
Females make up 27% of the workforce. This is 21 percentage points below the all jobs average of 48%.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile and gender share compared to the all jobs average.
Age Profile (% Share)
|Age Bracket||Prison Officers||All Jobs Average|
|65 and Over||3.1||4.2|
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Education, training and experience
Formal qualifications are not needed to apply to become a Prison Officer, but applicants need to pass a rigorous selection process and undertake pre-service training.
- My Skills to compare Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, providers and student outcomes.
- AAPathways website to explore Correctional Services VET training pathways.
Highest Level of Education (% Share)
|Type of Qualification||Prison Officers||All Jobs Average|
|Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate||2.9||10.1|
|Year 10 and below||10.1||12.5|
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.
Skills and Knowledge
Employers look for Prison Officers who are caring, compassionate and empathetic and can communicate clearly with a diverse range of people.
Skills can be improved through training or experience.
Keeping track of how well work is progressing so you can make changes or improvements.
Understanding why people react the way they do.
Reading work related information.
Talking to others.
52%Coordination with others
Being adaptable and coordinating work with other people.
Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
Talking people into changing their minds or their behaviour.
Writing things for co-workers or customers.
Being able to use what you have learnt to solve problems now and again in the future.
Teaching people how to do something.
43%Judgment and decision making
Figuring out the pros and cons of different options and choosing the best one.
Figuring out the best way to teach or learn something new.
Bringing people together and trying to sort out their differences.
Managing your own and other peoples' time to get work done.
39%Complex problem solving
Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
Looking for ways to help people.
Figuring out how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect it.
36%Management of personnel resources
Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, and choosing the best people for the job.
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.
77%Public safety and security
Use of equipment, rules and ideas to protect people, data, property, and institutions.
Human behaviour; differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; research methods; assessing and treating disorders.
62%Customer and personal service
Understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.
59%Law and government
How our laws and courts work. Government rules and regulations, and the political system.
58%Computers and electronics
Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office work.
English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
49%Education and training
Curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
45%Administration and management
Business principles involved in strategic planning, leadership, and coordinating people and resources.
Moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road.
41%Communications and media
Media production, communication, and dissemination. Includes written, spoken, and visual media.
41%Sociology and anthropology
Group behaviour and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
39%Therapy and counselling
Diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and career counselling and guidance.
38%Personnel and human resources
Recruiting and training people, managing pay and other entitlements (like sick leave), and negotiating pay and conditions.
36%Philosophy and theology
Philosophical systems and religions, including their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and impact on society.
Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.
Transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
Foreign (non-English) language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition and grammar, and pronunciation.
19%Medicine and dentistry
Diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities, including preventive health-care measures.
17%Economics and accounting
Economics and accounting, the financial markets, banking and checking and reporting of financial data.
Workers use these physical and mental abilities..
Listen to and understand what people say.
Communicate by speaking.
Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong, even if you can't solve the problem.
Use lots of detailed information to come up with answers or make general rules.
Speak clearly so others can understand you.
Pay attention to something without being distracted.
Use general rules to find answers or solve problems logically.
Lift, push, pull, or carry things.
See details that are far away.
See details that are up-close (within a few feet).
Read and understand written information.
Identify and understand the speech of another person.
46%Sorting or ordering
Order or arrange things in a pattern or sequence (e.g., numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
Quickly jump, sprint, or throw an object.
Write in a way that people can understand.
45%Flexibility of closure
See a pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) hidden in other distracting material.
Use your abdominal and lower back muscles a number of times without 'giving out' or fatiguing.
Pay attention to a certain sound when there are other distracting sounds.
Exercise for a long time without your muscles getting tired.
Tell the difference between sounds.
These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.
73%Negotiating and resolving conflicts
Handling complaints and disagreements, and negotiating with people.
71%Communicating within a team
Giving information to co-workers by telephone, in writing, or in person.
67%Making decisions and solving problems
Using information to work out the best solution and solve problems.
66%Keeping your knowledge up-to-date
Keeping up-to-date with technology and new ideas.
66%Documenting or recording information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
66%Looking for changes over time
Comparing objects, actions, or events. Looking for differences between them or changes over time.
64%Building good relationships
Building good working relationships and keeping them over time.
64%Checking compliance with standards
Deciding whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
63%Collecting and organising information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or checking information or data.
62%Monitoring people, processes and things
Checking objects, actions, or events, and keeping an eye out for problems.
60%Researching and investigating
Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.
60%Helping and caring for others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, or emotional support.
53%Doing physically active work
Use your arms, legs and whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling objects.
52%Checking for errors or defects
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials for errors, problems or defects.
52%Guiding and directing staff
Guiding and directing staff, including setting and monitoring performance standards.
52%Making sense of information and ideas
Looking at, working with, and understanding data or information.
49%Training and teaching others
Understanding the needs of others, developing training programs, and teaching or instructing.
48%Working with computers
Using computers to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
48%Leading and encouraging a team
Encouraging and building trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
47%Assessing and evaluating things
Working out the value, importance, or quality of things, services or people.
Interests and demands
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.
Interests are the style or type of work we prefer to do. All interest areas are shown below.
Practical, hands-on work. Often with plants and animals, or materials like wood, tools, and machinery.
Starting up and carrying out projects. Leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes require risk taking and often deal with business.
Following set procedures and routines. Working with numbers and details more than with ideas, usually following rules.
Working with people. Helping or providing service to others.
Ideas and thinking. Searching for facts and figuring out problems in your head.
Working with forms, designs and patterns. Often need self-expression and can be done without following rules.
Supportive management that stands behind employees. Workers are treated fairly by their company, they are supported by management, and have supervisors who train them well.
Serve and work with others. Workers usually get along well with each other, do things to help other people, and are rarely pressured to do things that go against their sense of right and wrong.
Work alone and make decisions. Workers are able to try out their own ideas, make decisions on their own, and work with little or no supervision.
Results oriented. Workers are able to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.
Job security and good working conditions. There is usually a steady flow of interesting work, and the pay and conditions are generally good.
Advancement and the potential to lead. Workers are recognised for the work that they do, they may give directions and instructions to others, and they are looked up to in their company and their community.
99%Contact with people
Have contact with people by telephone, face-to-face, or any other way.
95%Angry or unpleasant people
Deal with unpleasant, angry, or rude people.
Work with people in a group or team.
Talk on the telephone.
91%Health and safety of others
Take responsibility for the health and safety of others.
Talk with people face-to-face.
88%Being exact or accurate
Be very exact or highly accurate.
85%Physically close to people
Work physically close to other people.
85%Repeating same tasks
Repeat the same tasks or activities (e.g., key entry) over and over, without stopping.
84%Indoors, heat controlled
Work indoors with access to heating or cooling.
Work to strict deadlines.
83%Physically aggressive people
Deal with physically aggressive or violent people.
82%Contact with the public
Work with customers or the public.
82%Impact of decisions
Make decisions that have a large impact on other people.
82%Lead or coordinate a team
Lead others to do work activities.
81%Consequence of error
Work where mistakes have serious consequences.
Deal with conflict or disagreements.
80%Freedom to make decisions
Have freedom to make decision on your own.
77%Disease or infection
Be exposed to disease or infections.
74%Loud or uncomfortable sounds
Be exposed to noises and sounds that are distracting or uncomfortable.
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.
Links and downloads
Research and reports
The Skills Priority List provides a current labour market rating and a future demand rating for nearly 800 occupations nationally. Current labour market ratings are available for occupations at a state and territory level.
Occupation profiles data are available for download.
The Employment Projections are available for download.