How to Become a Corrections Officer

When you become a corrections officer, you are responsible for the safety and well-being of prisoners within secure custody.

Other names for a corrections officer are a jailer, jail officer, prison officer, or prison warden.

If you’re looking for a job that allows you to give back to society and have an interest in law enforcement, then you might like to become a corrections officer.

You’ll need to have good interpersonal and negotiations skills, as difficult situations can arise in prisons sometimes.

You’ll also have to have a firm mannerism, and be able to demand to respect of the prisoners in your care.

Education Requirements to Become a Corrections Officer

In most places, you’ll need to be at least 18 to become a corrections officer.

In other places, you may need to be 21, but you will need to have your high school diploma or a GED to qualify for a job in most prison systems.

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In federal prisons you may need a four year bachelor degree, or significant experience working with people in a career such as counseling or as a police officer.

Also, you will need to have US citizenship.

If you have a criminal record, you may not be able to work as a corrections officer.

Any felony, a misdemeanor within the last five years, or a charge involving drugs or violence will disqualify you in most instances.

Being in good health is also a requirement to become a corrections officer.

Before you start work, you’ll need to pass a medical test that will ensure you have good site and vision.

You’ll also need to be in good shape physically as well.

Most prisons take applications directly, and begin with an application followed by a written examination.

If you’re successful, you’ll go on to medical and psychological screening tests.

After you’ve been selected to work as a corrections officer, the institution may send you to some additional training before you start work.

If you are interested in working in a federal prison, you may like to look at the Federal Bureau of Prisons web site to see current job vacancies.

Corrections Officer Job Description

Corrections officers are mainly responsible for the security and safety of inmates within the prison system.

Keeping order in the prison is also important, as well as diffusing any hostile situations.

Fights, and sometimes even riots, can occur, so a prison officer needs to be prepared.

Corrections officers have one of the highest rates of non-fatal on the job injuries of any occupation.

Knowing that you may face a situation where you are put at risk of harm is important before you decide to become a corrections officer.

Working as a corrections officer, you’ll need to process incoming and outgoing inmates.

You will supervise prisoners in the system, and respond to events like assaults or escapes.

You will also need to keep a look out for contraband, or banned substances, such as weapons or drugs.

Here are some of the duties of a corrections officer:

  • Maintaining the order of a correctional institution
  • Contributing to the rehabilitation of prisoners
  • Ensuring the rules and regulations of a prison are upheld
  • Ensuring banned substances are not brought into the prison
  • Transportation of inmates
  • Responding to hostile situations

Corrections Officer Salary and Career Path

When you become a corrections officer you will have access to excellent benefits, such as paid leave, as well as health and dental insurance.

Once you are qualified you have excellent job security.

Job opportunities in this field are good, and there are usually plenty of positions available.

The skills you learn in one job are easily transferable to another, so no matter where you are living in the country you should always be able to find work.

Starting out as a corrections officer, you will work completing some or all of the tasks mentioned above.

With time you may be promoted to a position such as corrections sergeant, who oversees the management of a prison.

Some correctional officers go on to work in other parts of law enforcement, such as a parole officer, or a probation officer.

The median salary for a corrections officer is $38,000 a year.

The median for managerial or supervisory roles, such as a corrections sergeant, is $57,000 a year.

Some similar roles to that of corrections officer include:

If you’re looking for a secure job in law enforcement, then a career as a corrections officer might be right for you.

There are good opportunities, benefits, and salary available for interested candidates.

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