On this page

  • Medical Assessment
  • Physical capability assessment

Being a prison officer can be physically and mentally demanding. To ensure you can perform the role safely, you must pass a pre-employment health assessment.

Step 1: Booking

If you progress to the verification check, the department’s medical provider will send you an online questionnaire. You will also be prompted to schedule an in-person clinical appointment.

Step 2: Assessment

You will meet with medical professionals for a clinical assessment. This will cover medical history, physical measurements, sensory tests and functional assessments.

Step 3: Determination

An occupational physician reviews the assessment and any relevant supporting documents. They determine a fitness for duty recommendation. If further information, tests or specialist opinion are required, the determination is placed on hold (for up to 3 months) until it can be resolved.

Read what the pre-employment health assessment involves below or download the prison officer health assessment fact sheet.

Medical Assessment

To pass the clinical assessment, you will need to achieve the basic medical thresholds listed below.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Pass result: BMI (weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) between 18.5 and 40.  

In exceptional circumstances, applicants outside of this range may be considered when assessed in combination with other functional tests.  

Cardiovascular health

Pass result: Blood pressure should be at or below the threshold of 140/90.

You will need to undergo further evaluation by a cardiologist if you have a history of confirmed or suspected cardiac disease.

Respiratory (lung function)

Pass result: A normal spirometry result is required to pass.

Prison officers must wear self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) equipment when responding to certain emergencies. This can strain the wearer’s respiratory system. Additional evaluation may be required if you have a history of respiratory illnesses.


Pass result: Visual acuity should meet the commercial driving standards of better than 6/9 vision in your better eye, and better than 6/18 in your worse eye.

Having a complete and unobstructed field of vision is vital for a prison officer as it helps reduce the risk of missing activity in your peripheral sight. If you achieve a result below the visual standards, you can still work as a prison officer, but must wear visual correction, like glasses or contact lenses.

Candidates with a history of any significant eye disorders must provide a comprehensive assessment and report from an ophthalmologist or optometrist.


Pass result: In an audiogram test, unaided hearing loss must not exceed an average of 40dB at 500Hz, 1000Hz, 1500Hz, 2000Hz, and 3000Hz in each ear individually.​​

Prison officers must be able to work in environments of varying noise intensity. If you do not meet the standard, a formal hearing test with a qualified audiologist must be performed.

Screening for alcohol and other drugs

Pass result: Negative results for both drugs and alcohol.

An alcohol breathalyser test and urine drug screen are performed at the time of assessment. If you test positive for prohibited substances due to prescribed medications, you must provide documentation and proof of a valid prescription from a licensed healthcare provider. Any positive or inconclusive results will be sent for confirmation through an appropriate pathology provider.

Mental Health

You will take part in a mental health questionnaire and examination. This will test your capability to manage the level of personal stress that can come with being a prison officer.

You may be required to undertake further psychological screening even if you have no diagnosable mental health condition (a term used generically to describe the psychological presentation of symptoms).

Candidates with ADHD need to provide a report from their treating provider that verifies diagnosis, history, treatment and daily functioning. If managed through medication, the treating provider must be a psychiatrist.

Physical capability assessment

The physical capability assessment attempts to simulate some of the tasks and duties that a prison officer performs, including both regular and occasional demands of the role.  

Regular demands  

  • Continual standing during control room monitoring, movement control and interactions with offenders.
  • Walking during patrols, searches, escorts, counts and lockdowns and occasional running when responding to emergency situations.
  • Static tasks, including sitting at a computer-based workstation and monitoring surveillance operations.
  • Frequent pushing and pulling of heavy security doors.

Occasional demands  

  • Forward bending, reaching, squatting and kneeling during searches and gatehouse duties.
  • Lifting and carrying of security items, store items and equipment during searches and general duties.
  • Pushing and pulling, requiring moderate to high force to restrain a non-compliant offender.
  • Climbing of steps, stairways and ladders into accommodation units and vehicles.

Physical capability tests

You will undertake the below physical tests immediately before or after the medical component of your clinical assessment. You will perform the tests consecutively and need to hit certain benchmarks to pass the assessment.



How you will be assessed

  • You will complete full push-ups lying face down on your stomach.  
  • Position hands directly under your shoulders. 
  • Position your hands and toes shoulder-width apart and fully extend your elbows. 
  • Lower your upper body so your elbows bend to 90 degrees, keeping back and legs straight. 
  • Push back up to the start position. 
  • Complete 15 repetitions. 

Note: If you’re unable to complete a full push-up, you may kneel.

Minimum achievement

15 consecutive push-ups.

Training Tips

Practising a variety of push-ups to improve your core and upper body strength. Variations include wall push-ups, kneeling push-ups and incline push-ups.



How you will be assessed

  • You will plank in the prone position. 
  • Place elbows directly under your shoulders. 
  • Keep your elbows and feet shoulder width apart. 
  • Push your body up, bearing the weight on the forearms and feet. 
  • Keep your back, legs and head in line.

Minimum achievement

Hold the position with correct form for 60 seconds.

Training Tips

Do variations of the plank – including side plank and front plank – ensuring you perform them with good technique.


YMCA step test

How you will be assessed

  • You will do the YMCA step test.  
  • In time with the beat (96 beats per minute), step one foot up on the bench (1st beat), step up with the second foot (2nd beat), step down with one foot (3rd beat), and step down with the other foot (4th beat).  
  • Each step is 30 cm. 
  • Continue for three minutes. 

Minimum achievement

One minute following the exercise, your heart rate will be measured. It should be less than or equal to 110 beats per minute. 

Training Tips

Increase your daily movement by taking regular breaks from sitting. Go on extended walks or jogs. Guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week for adults aged 18-64.


Grip strength

How you will be assessed

  • You will clench the dynamometer with one hand as hard as you can. 
  • Sit with your elbow at your side. 
  • Flex your elbow to 90 degrees. 
  • Keep your wrist neutral. 
  • Squeeze the handheld dynamometer as hard as possible for three seconds. 
  • Repeat on your other hand. 

Minimum achievement

20 kg grip strength on each hand. 

Training Tips

Do resistance training, incorporating variations of exercises like pull-ups. 


Floor to waist/bench lift

How you will be assessed

  • You will lift a weight of 20 kg from the floor to waist height.  
  • Bend your knees to lower your body to the level of the load. 
  • Keep your feet shoulder width apart to ensure a broad, stable base. 
  • Keep your back straight (though not necessarily erect). 
  • Use a firm grip to lift, keeping load close to your body. 

Minimum achievement

Lift a weight of 20 kg and complete five repetitions.

Training Tips

Do consistent weight training, working your weight up to a 20 kg load.


Waist/bench to shoulder lift

How you will be assessed

  • You will lift a weight of 15 kg from waist height to shoulder heights. 
  • Feet shoulder width apart. 
  • Keep your arms close to your body. 
  • Do not rotate your body while lifting. 

Minimum achievement

Lift a weight of 15 kg and complete five repetitions. 

Training Tips

Research safe lifting to make sure your form is correct to maximise load while preventing injury.


Overhead press

How you will be assessed

  • You will lift two 5 kg dumbbells (one in each hand) from shoulder height position to above your head.  
  • Feet shoulder width apart  
  • Grip weights with your knuckles facing upwards. 
  • Raise your elbows to shoulder height and bend at 90 degrees. 
  • Press the dumbbells overhead until your arm is in a straightened position. 
  • Pause slightly and return your arms to starting position. 
  • Perform five repetitions.   

Minimum achievement

Perform 5 repetitions with two dumbbells of 5 kg (one in each hand). 

Training Tips

Undertake upper limb strength resistance training.


Bilateral carrying

How you will be assessed

  • The weight will be distributed evenly between both hands.
  • Maintain a steady, upright position. 
  • Do not allow the weight to move laterally or favour one side over the other. 

Minimum achievement

Carry the load of 20 kg over the 10-metre distance.

Training Tips

Resistance training.


Unilateral carrying

How you will be assessed

  • You will carry a 10 kg weight by your side in one hand over a 10-metre distance.
  • You will repeat this exercise in the other hand. 

Minimum achievement

Handle a 10 kg load in the right and left hands (tested separately) over a 10-metre distance. 

Training Tips

Resistance training.


Sustained full squat

How you will be assessed

  • You will perform a squat hold. No additional weights will be used.  
  • Place legs shoulder-width apart. 
  • Raise your arms in front of you to shoulder height.  
  • Looking forward, keep your shoulders back. 
  • Bend your knees and move your hips back into a sitting position until your thighs are parallel with the floor. 

Maintain the position for 30 seconds. 

Minimum achievement

Sustain a full squat position for 30 seconds

Training Tips

The squat is a compound exercise, meaning it targets multiple muscle groups at once. To improve your squatting capability, practise variations like a wall sit, squatting to a higher surface and body weight squats.


Half kneel

How you will be assessed

  • You will adopt a kneeling position. 
  • Start with one foot in front of the other. 
  • Bend your front knee until it reaches 90 degrees, keeping your upper body in an upright position.  
  • Sustain the position for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite leg. 

Minimum achievement

Maintain position for 30 seconds. 

Training Tips

Resistance training. 

If you do not participate in frequent exercise, you should consult with a doctor or registered exercise professional before completing the assessment. If you participate in regular exercise but are injured or experiencing any pain, you should consult a health care professional prior to completing any exercises.  

It is not possible to provide information of the wide range of medical conditions that may impact your ability to pass this assessment. However, candidates with a history of musculoskeletal conditions must show complete resolution and a return to regular activities after treatment. A report from the treating practitioner confirming full recovery is essential.   

If you have any concerns, consult your doctor before commencing training.  

Good luck. We hope to see you at pre-service training soon. If you have any further questions about any part of the recruitment process, please visit Get ready to become a prison officer or email prisonofficers@hudson.com (External link).

Learn more:

Become a prison officer (External link)

Apply to become a prison officer (External link)