Correctional officers are responsible for overseeing individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to serve time in a jail, reformatory, or penitentiary.
Military experience is often seen as a plus for corrections employment, and will often suffice in place of college credits.
Correctional officers maintain security in the jail to oversee inmate disturbances, assaults or escapes. Their primary duties are to enforce the rules and regulations of the institution that they work in, maintain accurate logs and reports of inmate activity, breach of premise, violation of rules, or any unusual activity. Officers also escort prisoners between the institution and courtrooms, medical facilities, and other destinations.
Officers are allowed to carry certain weapons to protect themselves from harm, but once outside of the jail or institution premises, they are not allotted any law enforcement authority.
The work environment of a corrections officer can be very demanding and stressful. The hours worked normally are to include 8 hour shifts, 5 days a week on a rotation. Night and weekends are a scheduled and maintained work shift as well.
Education and Training
A high school diploma or GED is required in this field. Entry-level officer positions are available for qualified persons that hold a bachelors degree or higher, and must have at least 3 years experience in a related field.
Training is mandatory, and all officers will be put through a training academy to learn what he/she is supposed to know for their facility through on- the- job training. New Federal correctional officers must undergo 200 hours of formal training within the first year of employment. They also must complete 120 hours of specialized training at the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons residential training center.
Applicants are typically screened for drug abuse, subject to background checks, and required to pass a written examination.
Typically, an officers salary and pay can range, depending on their job title/status, can range from $29,000 a year up for smaller or privately operated jails, correctional officers and jailers were ranging $38,000, and up to $73,000 for supervisors and managers.
Additional specialties within the Criminal Justice field that you can look into as a career:
- Criminal Investigations
- Crime Scene Investigator
- FBI Special Agent
- Homeland Security
- Law Enforcement