Skip to content

Our Process

Discover more about the role, environment and recruitment process

The initial recruitment process includes application, online tests, telephone interview and assessment (either face to face or virtual). If successful you will be required to go through strict security & vetting checks which will allow you to work in this secure environment. The checks are conducted via the Home Office and can up to 6 weeks to complete.  

Image of an infographic displaying the prison officer training process

The application process: Follow these 6 simple steps.

If you would like to pursue a career as a Prison Officer you will go through the following recruitment and training journey.


Select the Prison Officer role you are interested in and confirm your right to work status.

Online Assessment and Screening

Your application will be reviewed by one of our Talent Specialists. If you meet the criteria as set out in the advert you will be invited via email to complete some online assessments.

If you successfully pass the online assessment, you will be contacted by one our team for a telephone interview to answer some eligibility screening questions. 


Upon review & passing of the eligibility screening, you will then be booked into either a virtual or face to face interview. 

The interview will take around 1 hour and will consist of:

- Competency Based Interview

- Role Play

- Written Exercise

- Maths Assessment

Fitness Testing

Once you have successfully passed your interview, you will be scheduled in to complete your Fitness Test.  The Fitness Test consists of:

- Bleep Test – You will be required to complete 15 metre shuttle runs in time with the bleeps and will last approximately 3 minutes and 40 seconds and will have to reach level 5.4. 

- Agility Test – Running around set course of cones under a particular time scale. 

- Shield Hold Test – Holding shield out in front of you at a 45-degree angle for 1 minute 

- Grip Test - 20KG (on both hands)

Provisional Offer and Vetting

If you are successful following the assessments, one of our Talent Specialists will call you to make you an offer. If you verbally accept at this point we will get a formal offer of employment to you.

If there are no immediate roles available, we will put you in to our talent pool until the next opportunity arises.

Onboarding & Training Centre

The time it takes to complete your vetting varies depending on your work history and where you have lived. Whilst we are waiting for your clearance, one of the Talent Acquisition Specialists will be in touch to let you know next steps and be on hand to ask any questions you may have. We will also put you in touch with the local vetting contact who can further support you through the process.

Prison Officer training takes 10 weeks and you will be offered the next place, subject to clearance. The training consists of both classroom learning and on-the job shadowing and at the end of the training you will take some tests to ensure you are competent to become a Prison Officer. 

Image of two female prison officers having a conversation outside

Discover how I went from planting seeds to growing a career as a PCO

I was looking for a people-focussed role, where I could make a positive change to society. I found it as a Prison Officer, but I never expected to positively impact my career quite so much too. 

Linda Saunders, Prison Officer 


Find out more

Apply now

Frequently asked questions

Please see a list of questions we regularly get asked, hopefully you will find the answer below, if not please email our recruitment team and we will be in touch as soon as possible.

Is there a minimum age requirement?
As a minimum you will have to be 18 to apply for a Prison Officer role, if you are not 18 there are other roles that could be available to you.
What qualifications do I need?
Maths and English at a minimum key skills level 2 or equivalent.
What experience do I need to have?
Our Prison Officers come from very diverse backgrounds. It is more important for you to have the right people skills including excellent verbal and written communication, ability to exercise authority as well as maintaining your integrity and professionalism in a variety of challenging situations. Fantastic observation skills is a must!
Will I need to work shifts?
Yes, each establishment operates various shift patterns which will include early / lates / days / evenings and night shifts.
How will I prove my right work in the UK?

You will need to have a valid passport together with a valid permit or visa, if applicable, or a birth certificate with proof of national insurance, which shows your right to live and remain in the UK.

Will I have opportunity to develop my career?

Within our custodial establishments there is career progression, if you wish to continue with you Prison Officer career you can move in to a management role you can become a Custodial Operations Manager and then Assistant Director and Deputy Director. There are also other departments within the custodial establishments that you can move in to such as; psychology, industries, education and security.

As a large organisation we do have various roles available both within the Justice and Immigration Sector and broader Serco Group.

Will I be required to wear a uniform?
Yes, this will be provided for you during your Initial Training Course.
Will I get operational support once I have finished the ITC?
You will be assigned a buddy during your first few weeks.
If I am added into a talent pool, how long can I expect to wait for the next training place?
This can vary depending on the establishment, but if you are added in to the talent pool you will have regular contact with the talent specialist where they will provide updates and provisional start dates.
When starting the ITC, do I have to have 100% attendance in order to pass the course?
The Initial Training Course (ITC) is an 8 - 9 week intensive training course during which 100% attendance is mandatory. If you have holiday booked during this time period and you are not able to re arrange, we will invite you to the next available course.
Will I get paid during the ITC?
Yes, you will be paid. When you start the ITC this is the first day of your employment with Serco.
Why do I have to do fitness tests?
The reason that you have to successfully pass the fitness tests is because being a Prison Officer can be physically demanding, and we need to ensure you have a level of fitness to respond to any emergency situations that may arise.
Where will the ITC be held?
The ITC will be held at the establishment you have been successful at – there won’t be any requirement to stay away from home.

Find out more

Image of a male prison officer having a conversation on the stairs with another male prison officer

Prison Officer Careers

A image of two prison officers having a conversation while walking outside down a garden path in front of HMP Dovegate

Start your journey to become a Prison Officer

Our people stories