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Occupation Details

Prison Officer

Occupation Vitals

• Prison Officers are committed and driven individuals who aspire to be an integral partner in the Criminal Justice System, and protect society through the safe custody of offenders, as well as the rehabilitation of inmates.
• They are seen as our 'Captains of Lives', and are part of a highly trained and motivated team which plays a pivotal role in steering and helping inmates re-integrate into society.

Nature of the Work

Prison Officers are responsible for helping offenders make right their errant ways and restore their self-respect and confidence. One such role is that of a Personal Supervisor. The Personal Supervisor works with the Housing Unit Officer to maintain good order and discipline among the inmates in the prisons and drug rehabilitation centres. The Personal Supervisor is assigned to oversee a group of inmates. He is required to manage the inmates by engaging them in purposeful and meaningful interactions. This is a foundational posting all Prison Officers go through.

Depending on their aptitude and potential, Prison Officers can be rotated to other job functions (e.g. Intelligence Officer, Programme Support Officer, Security & Provost Officer etc) after their foundational posting. Such job functions will hone the officers’ development and prepare them to assume positions of higher responsibility.

Senior Prison Officers serve a leadership function within the service and are involved in planning and charting the direction of many aspects of the Singapore Prisons Service. They are also expected to take on various roles during their careers, exposing them to the many challenges that the service has to offer.

Depending on their aptitude and potential, Senior Prison Officers can be rotated to other job functions (e.g. Staff Officer, Intelligence Officer, Security & Provost Officer, Counsellor etc) after their foundational posting. Such job functions will hone the officers’ development and prepare them to assume positions of higher responsibility.

Working Conditions

The timing of shifts for Operational Staff is as follows:
• Morning Shift (0700h to 1500h)
• Afternoon Shift (1200h to 1900h)
• Night Shift (1900h to 0700h)

Officers who perform staff work which are more administrative in nature, follow the long shift from 0830h to 1800h. The exact timing of the shifts may vary slightly, depending on the institution.

Benefits include:
• Special allowance and Retention Payment Scheme for Prison Officer
• Retirement Fund Scheme
• Membership to Prisons Sports & Recreation Club
• Membership to Prisons Multi-purpose Co-operative Society
• 13 months’ salary and variable bonuses
• 14 to 18 days annual leave
• Medical and dental treatment at subsidised rates
• Group Term Insurance Scheme
• Cash vouchers on special occasions
• Access to affordable holiday bungalows, both local and overseas

Qualifications, Training and Advancement

- GCE ‘O’ Level

Applicants must meet the following requirements:
• Singaporean or Singapore Permanent Resident
• Physically and mentally fit
• Good eyesight and normal colour vision
• Male Singapore citizens must have completed NS with PES A or B.
A Prison Officer must possess a minimum of 4 GCE ‘O’ Level credits.
Applicants with 4 GCE "O" Level or NITEC (formerly NTC-2) would be appointed on 3-year contract if shortlisted for the position.

Newly appointed Prison Officers and Senior Prison Officers have to go through residential Basic Officer Course at the Home Team Academy, respectively. Prison officers will undergo structured professional training with career advancement into operational/ specialised/ staff positions.

The rank structure is:
Corporal → Sergeant → Staff Sergeant → Chief Warder 1 → Chief Warder 2 → Senior Chief Warder Officer 1 → Senior Chief Warder 2

A Senior Prison Officer must have a degree from a recognised University (any discipline).
The rank structure is:
Rehabilitation Officer 1 → Rehabilitation Officer 2 → Asst Superintendent 1 → Asst Superintendent 2 → Deputy Superintendent 1 → Deputy Superintendent 2 → Superintendent → Asst Director → Deputy Director → Director of Prisons

Personal Characteristics and Core Competencies

Prison Officers and Senior Prison Officers are committed and driven individuals who aspire to be an integral partner in the Criminal Justice System. We contribute to a safe and secure Singapore by protecting society through the safe custody of offenders, as well as the rehabilitation of inmates.

As a Senior Prison Officer, you will be involved in the planning and charting of direction of the many aspects of the Singapore Prison Service. Your role as a Housing Unit Officer is to maintain discipline and order among the inmates under your charge and help inmates re-integrate into society. You should possess leadership qualities, good communications and analytical skills to be able to motivate and lead your team under your charge.

Prison Officers work closely with Senior Prison Officers to assist them in many of the vital functions of the Department. You are required to manage the inmates by engaging them in purposeful and meaningful interactions and ensuring good order and discipline of inmates. This requires one to possess good interpersonal skills, integrity, being firm and assertive, fairness and flexibility in discharging their duties.

Job Outlook

The MHA recruits about 300 Prison Officers and 50 Senior Prison Officers a year.


Depending on your educational qualifications, your starting monthly gross salary is as follows:

Educational Qualifications
GCE 'O' Level / NITEC (formerly NTC2) / Higher Nitec:
$1,750 to $2,020
Full GCE 'A' Level
/ IB Diploma / NUS High School Diploma / Diploma from Local Polytechnic / NAFA / Laselle / NIE: $1,920 to $2,370

Entry Appointment Entry
Qualification Gross
Monthly Salary
Assistant Superintendent Of
Prisons (1)
$3,610 to $4,370
Rehabilitation Officer (1)
$3,080 to $3,910

Life Story

Prison Officer
SSGT Richard Koh
Personnel Officer, Cluster B

Back in the days when I was a Personal Supervisor, in the now defunct Queenstown Remand Prison, the team-spirit among officers had always been strong. I vividly recall as a new officer, never had I felt intimidated by my work as I knew that there would be support from the experienced officers. These officers became my mentors in guiding me along with the jailcrafts and imparting their valuable knowledge to me.

Now in my post as a Personnel Officer, I have to liaise with a wider range of officers. My primary role is to assist the Personnel Planning & Development Manager in coordinating manpower matters such as staff posting and deployment matters. On top of that, I also help the Staff Development Officers in the organizing of well-being events, as well as in-service training sessions for staff. Another part of the job I enjoy very much is to conduct orientation programme for new officers. Through this, I am able to help them better adjust to the organization’s culture and environment.

The human dynamics in the Singapore Prison Service is what makes it so interesting whether you are performing operational duties or like me, in an office environment. Everyday is completely different despite the routines and core duties that all of us have to carry out. That makes coming to work a joy for me as there will be challenges that I have to undertake. Through these challenges I learn to deliver better quality work.

Senior Prison Officer
ASP Derry The Hwa Yong
Head Training and Doctrine, Singapore Prisons Emergency Action Response (SPEAR) Force

I studied Business at university with specialisation in marketing. It was the natural choice for me as I am quite the extrovert. Most of my friends were shocked when I told them I was going to pursue a career with Prisons. They lamented that there was no relevancies to my area of studies, but I felt otherwise. Interestingly, my studies became relevant to my career as I could relate certain aspects of my work back to marketing concepts that I have learnt at school. For instance, my studies in marketing taught me how to be proficient at influencing buyer’s decisions, and I am now a Captain of Lives influencing my inmates to make the correct decisions in life.

I am currently in Singapore Prison Emergency Action Response (SPEAR) Force serving as Head Training and Doctrine. SPEAR Force is an elite force specialising in Riot Control and high risk operations and we are ever ready to respond to any contingencies that might arise. I personally oversee the tactical training needs of Prisons and ensure that the training is purposeful and current so that the Response Force and frontline Prison Officers are fully ready to handle any prison incidents.

I love my job as it allows rotation across a very broad spectrum of work. I had the chance to work with young offenders during my first posting as a Housing Unit Officer and my current role in SPEAR Force involves a lot of action and handling of complex tactical situations.

Sources of Additional Information

Last updated on 02 June 2011 05:35:00


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