How to Become a Correctional Officer

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The department of corrections is a very important field that ensures people who break the law serve the required time. Trained professionals are responsible for the custody, care, and control of arrested individuals. Correctional officers supervise and maintain security and safety of offenders detained in jails, prisons, or other incarceration centers.


Hey, I'm Joshua T. Osborne

In 2015, I said goodbye to 16-hour days and hauling boxes up and down stairs for a living (I was a mover). I became a full-time entrepreneur, and I made my money by helping business owners make money.

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What does a correctional officer do?

Correctional officers are responsible for supervising arrested individuals who have been convicted and sentenced to serve time in a correctional facility or for people who are waiting for trial. They maintain the safety, security, and accountability of inmates to prevent disturbances, escapes, and fights. They constantly monitor the activities, assignments, and work of inmates to make sure they are obeying the rules and acting in orderly fashion. Correctional officers must always maintain order and enforce all rules and regulations. They inspect the facility periodically and check for dangerous things such as fire hazards, unsanitary conditions, illegal items, and any other evidence of breaking the rules. They also inspect locks, doors, windows, and gates to make sure they have not been tampered with. They also screen mail and visitors to make sure there are no prohibited items.

What kind of training does a correctional officer need?

Correctional officers need at least a high school diploma. Some positions require college education. The Federal Bureau of Prisons requires correctional officers to have a minimum of a bachelor degree and 3 years of related full time work experience. Some state and local agencies require some college credits. Many correctional officers have military experience that can be substituted for college credits.

Most correctional officers receive thorough on the job training that takes weeks to months to complete. Experienced officers supervise all new correctional officers. Correctional officers regularly participate in annual training to stay up to date on new developments and procedures.

What are the prospects for a career as a correctional officer?

Employment of correctional officers is projected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 16% from 2006 to 2016 (1). Population growth and increased rates of incarceration will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be excellent especially for correctional officers that are very qualified and for those with extensive experience. There will also be job openings from the need to replace correctional officers that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do correctional officers make?

As of September 2009, the middle 50% of correctional officers earned annual salaries between $35,147 and $43,895. The highest 10% earned annual salaries of more than $47,882 (2).

A career as a correctional officer is a great choice for people interested in law enforcement and detaining offenders. Correctional officers must be in good physical and mental health and have good hearing and eyesight. Good judgment, authority, logical thinking, ability to make fast decisions, and the ability to act quickly in stressful situations are also essential.

Joshua T Osborne

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