Correctional officer essential career information:
- 2012 median pay: $39,040
- 2012, number of jobs: 434,870
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 5 percent
- Entry-level education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
Correctional officers; what they do:
A correctional officer career requires hard work and discipline. Correctional officers, also called corrections officers, oversee arrested individuals waiting for trial, as well as those already convicted and serving time in a jail, reformatory, or prison.
A correctional officer career includes supervising and maintaining order among inmates in jails and prisons. A correctional officer career also includes knowing where all inmates are at all times, enforcing rules, preventing fights or escapes, searching inmates for items they should not have, and playing a part in inmates’ rehabilitation and counseling.
Corrections officers have the power to add or remove privileges in order to help keep inmates under control. Corrections officers may use handcuffs and leg irons when moving inmates from one location to another.
A corrections officer career includes reporting on their inmates’ behavior, good or bad. Corrections officers also inspect conditions of facilities they work in to ensure they meet agreed upon standards.
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Correctional officers job titles:
- Detention Deputy
- Detention Officer
- Correctional Sergeant
- Deputy Jailer
- Booking Officer
- Public Safety Officer
Correctional Officers Education, Certification and License Requirements
A corrections officer career requires at least a high school diploma (or equivalent), graduation from an appropriate training academy established by the American Correctional Association, and on-the-job training. Qualifications may vary slightly depending on the agency.
Some state and local corrections agencies require correctional officers to have college credits or law enforcement or military experience. In order to work in a federal prison, correctional officers must have a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice or a degree in a relevant field such as psychology; three years experience in counseling, assistance, or supervision of people, or a combination of these two requirements.
Correctional officer programs cover subjects such as:
- First aid
- Criminal justice
- Juvenile justice
- Inmate privileges and rights
- Criminal analysis
Correctional officers may obtain certifications to earn and provide additional resources to their job. Although not required, earning certifications can help corrections officers advance in their career.
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Career Advancement Opportunities
Correctional officers may advance in their career to a correctional sergeant job or a warden job. Correctional officers may also transfer to similar positions, such as probation officer, parole officer, or correctional treatment specialist.
Correctional Officers Job Outlook
Forecast: 5 percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for correctional officers, slower than the average for all occupations.
Employment growth for corrections officers comes naturally as the population grows. Budget constraints or cuts, a downward trend in crime rates, and some states opting for shorter prison terms are expected to lower the demand for correctional officers.
Correctional Officers Salary
- 2012 median annual wage: $39,040
- 2012, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $53,500
- 2012, workers at the 25% percentile annual wage: $27,000
Correctional Officers Major Employers
- Federal, state, and local government agencies
- Private companies providing correctional services to prisons and jails