Frontline staff and new recruits in London and the South East will benefit from £12m in funding announced by Justice Secretary Liz Truss.
Workers at 31 jails - including Wormwood Scrubs, Belmarsh and Pentonville - will see their annual pay packets rise by between £3,000 and £5,000.
Salary increases will be determined by how difficult it has been for each jail to recruit new personnel.
The announcement comes after union bosses warned of low morale and dwindling staffing levels.
There has also been a spate of prison riots in recent months, along with a record number of assaults, suicides and self-harm incidents in jails.
Ms Truss said prison officers were doing a "tough" job.
She added: "They are fantastic people who are in the job for all the right reasons and that's why I want to make sure they're properly rewarded for the work they do and that they've got good training and progression.
"So we're creating new jobs in the service... so people can earn more money for specific skills like the ability to deal with mental health issues, for example.
"But what we're particularly doing in areas like London and the South East is giving a pay boost to new recruits, so you'll be able to join on a starting salary of about £30,000 if you join the Prison Service.
"Of course it's a tough environment to recruit in, I recognise that we're not going to turn our prison around in weeks or months.
"It takes time to train people and bring new people on."
Ms Truss has also announced a national recruitment drive to add 2,500 officers.
The announcement came as ex-prisoner and former cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken blamed "swingeing and unjustified" cuts for the prisons crisis.
He praised Ms Truss for facing up to the "grim realities" of the situation after predecessors Michael Gove, Chris Grayling and Ken Clarke "agreed to" cuts that they "should never have allowed".
Mr Aitken, who was jailed for perjury in 1999, told BBC Radio 4: "There are no votes in prisons or prisoners' rights or prison welfare so, of course, cuts are easy to make there without causing voter disquiet.
"We need a bit of a re-think about how public expenditure priorities are decided and we're not getting that right at the moment."
Source: Sky News