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Occupation Details

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Prison Officer

Job Zone

Education
These occupations usually require a Leaving Certificate or equivalent.

Related Experience
Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a bank teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.

Job Training
Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognised apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.

Job Zone Examples
These occupations often involve using your knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include sheet metal workers, forest fire fighters, customer service representatives, physical therapist aides, retail salespersons and tellers.

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At a Glance... header image

Prison Officers are charged with providing and maintaining a safe, secure and humane environment for the confinement of all persons committed to prison in accordance with law.


Videos & Interviews header image

1Total Records: 2

Paul Harding
Prison Officer  

Paul completed his Leaving Cert and went to college to pursue his interests in science. After college he chose to join the Prison service, and has worked there since. The Prison service offers a great work / life balance and while challenging, provides Paul with many opportunities to progress his career.

Go to Interview  
 
Margaret Donaghue
Prison Officer  

After completing her Leaving Cert, Margaret pursued a career in administration based roles, and completed several courses in this field. This training has proven invaluable for her current position in the Prison Service, where she continues her training within the Service towards a Higher Certificate in Custodial Care in IT Sligo.

Go to Interview  
 

The Work header image

The work of a Prison Officer consists of caring for the needs of offenders whom the Courts have committed to prison. While the safe custody of those in their charge must be their first priority, Prison Officers have a very important additional role to play in assisting prisoners.

Prison Officers are part of a team that includes welfare workers, teachers, chaplains, doctors, psychologists, etc, and are engaged in helping to equip offenders with the necessary social and industrial skills to enable them to take a useful place in society when released.  
 
Prison Officers also escort prisoners inside and outside the prison. They patrol buildings and grounds to ensure a secure environment and carry out searches of cells if required.

Prison Governor

Prison governors are the managers of the prison service and are responsible for the administration and smooth running of a prison unit. They work at different levels of responsibility according to their management grade. These range from Governor 3 to Governor 1 grade.  
 
Governor 3 grade is the initial management grade. This role is largely made up of training and supervising staff, as well as arranging work and leisure activities for inmates. A Governor 3 may work in all parts of the prison and have frequent contact with prisoners.  
 
Governor Grade 2 employees have additional responsibilities to those above and may have overall responsibility for a small prison. Governors working in the larger establishments are graded 2 or 1.  
 
All prison governors need to have a good knowledge and understanding of what is going on in their prison or centre. As well as carrying out inspections, governors liaise with probation officers, social workers, and medical staff and prison psychologists. They also attend meetings, courses and conferences that may take them outside the prison from time to time.

 


Tasks & Activitiesheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported tasks and activities for this occupation

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Conduct head counts to ensure that each prisoner is present.

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Monitor conduct of prisoners in housing unit, or during work or recreational activities, according to established policies, regulations, and procedures, to prevent escape or violence.

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Inspect conditions of locks, window bars, grills, doors, and gates at correctional facilities to ensure security and help prevent escapes.

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Record information, such as prisoner identification, charges, and incidences of inmate disturbance, and keep daily logs of prisoner activities.

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Search prisoners and vehicles and conduct shakedowns of cells for valuables and contraband, such as weapons or drugs.

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Use weapons, handcuffs, and physical force to maintain discipline and order among prisoners.

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Inspect mail for the presence of contraband.

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Guard facility entrances to screen visitors.

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Maintain records of prisoners' identification and charges.

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Process or book convicted individuals into prison.

Work Activities header image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported work activities in this occupation.

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Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others:  Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.

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Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings:  Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.

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Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events:  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

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Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships:  Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.

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Assisting and Caring for Others:  Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.

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Performing General Physical Activities:  Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.

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Making Decisions and Solving Problems:  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

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Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards:  Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.

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Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge:  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.

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Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates:  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.


Knowledge header image

The following is a list of the five most commonly reported knowledge areas for this occupation.

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Public Safety and Security:  Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.

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Law and Government:  Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.

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Psychology:  Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.

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English Language:  Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

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Computers and Electronics:  Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.


Skillsheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported skills used in this occupation.

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Monitoring:   Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

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Social Perceptiveness:   Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

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Reading Comprehension:   Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

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Speaking:   Talking to others to convey information effectively.

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Coordination:   Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

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Active Listening:   Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

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Persuasion:   Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.

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Critical Thinking:   Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

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Service Orientation:   Actively looking for ways to help people.

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Instructing:   Teaching others how to do something.

Personal Qualitiesheader image

You need to be able to get on with people. You will also need to be firm and able to act with authority when necessary. You should be able to demonstrate understanding and commitment to helping with the rehabilitation of offenders.  
 
As a prison officer you may need to act quickly and must keep calm during a crisis. Good judgement is important, as are decision-making skills and initiative. Team working skills are useful.  
 
Good communication skills are essential. You need to be fit and active to do this job.


Entry Routesheader image

In Ireland, Prison Officers are recruited by open competition through the Public Appointments Service. Campaign details are made available on the Public Jobs website and on the Irish Prison Service website.

Separate competitions for Prison Officers (Trades) are advertised as vacancies occur. 
 
Entry Requirements  

Have obtained:

(a) A minimum grade OD3  in five subjects in the Leaving Certificate Established examination or Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme. A grade not lower than C3 at Foundation Level or D3 at Ordinary Level in English and/or Irish must be included in the five required subjects.

or

(b) The Merit Grade in the Applied Leaving Certificate programme, subject to modules in English and Communications, and/or An Ghaeilge Chumarsáideach having been completed.

or

(c) other qualifications acceptable to the Public Appointments Service as being of a standard not lower than those outlined at (a) and (b) above. A combination of two or more examinations or assessments may be permitted in determining eligibility.

Note: This information is based on previous recruitment campaigns - applicants should always check the details of latest requirments as these may change.

All applicants to the prison service must additionally undergo medical and competency testing.

Training

Recruit Prison Officers will initially receive nine weeks formal induction training which combines classroom tuition with job familiarisation. This induction training forms part of Semester 1 of the Higher Certificate in Custodial Care (HCCC) programme. which is delivered over the first two years of service. You must successfully complete the programme as a condition of appointment to Recruit Prison Officer. Completion of the programme leads to the award of a National Certificate Level 6 HETAC Accreditation.

Refresher courses are organised from time to time for serving staff, and courses are designed to cater for special needs when such needs are identified.  
 
Officers serve a probationary period that normally will last for two years. Following the successful completion of 3 years service including probation, the Recruit Prison Officer will be appointed as an Established Prison Officer.

Progression route - Prison Officer, Assistant Chief Officer, Chief Officer (Grade 1 &2), Assistant Governor, Deputy Governor and Governor.

The only route to becoming a prison governor is to join the service as a prison officer and work your way up. There are two main promotional paths available from the basic Prison Officer rank.  
 
The first path is from Prison Officer to Assistant Chief Officer to Chief Officer 2 and then to Chief Officer 1 grade.  
 
The second path is from prison officer to Clerk 2 to Clerk 1 to Assistant Governor.  
 
Having reached either Assistant Governor or Chief Officer Grade, candidates may apply for Deputy Governor Positions. Promotion to Governor 2 level is open to those at Governor 3 and Deputy Governor Levels. Promotion to Governor 1 level is open to those at Governor 2 and Governor 3 levels.
 

Last Updated: November, 2015


Further Informationheader image

A detailed description of this occupation can be found on a number of online databases. Follow the link(s) below to access this information:

Note: you will be leaving the CareersPortal Site

Go..Detention Officer - from:  iCould [UK] Video
Go..Instructional Officer - from:  icould [UK] Video
Go..Prison Governor - from:  N.C.S. [UK]
Go..Prison Governor - from:  icould [UK] Video
Go..Prison Instructor - from:  N.C.S. [UK]
Go..Prison Officer - from:  N.C.S. [UK]
Go..Prison officer - from:  GradIreland
Go..Prison Officer - from:  icould [UK] Video
Go..Prison Officer/Resettlement Officer - from:  icould [UK] Video
Go..Senior Officer - from:  iCould [UK] Video

Related Occupationsheader image

Contactsheader image

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Organisation: Public Appointments Service
  Address: Chapter House, 26/30 Abbey Street Upper, Dublin 1
  Tel: (01) 858 7400 or Locall: 1890 44 9999
  Email: Click here
  Url Click here

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Organisation: Irish Prison Service
  Address: IDA Business Park, Ballinalee Road, Longford, Co. Longford
  Tel: (043) 33 35100
  Email: Click here
  Url Click here

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Organisation: Prison Officers' Association
  Address: 18 Merrion Square, Dublin 2
  Tel: (01) 662 5495
  Email: Click here
  Url Click here

 

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Career Guidance

This occupation is popular with people who have the following Career Interests...


...and for people who like working in the following Career Sectors:

Security, Defence & Law Enforcement
Civil & Public Service, Local Government, Politics & EU

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