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Correctional Officer

If you’re looking for an exciting, fast-paced career, then you might want to consider becoming a correctional officer. Correctional officers work in jails and prisons to make sure rules and regulations are followed by the inmates. It might not always be a pretty job, but it definitely has its rewards. Somebody has to do it, so why not you? Find training at a top criminal justice school near you.

What Is A Correctional Officer?

Within prisons and jails, you’ll find correctional officers running the show. Your job is to enforce the rules and regulations, not only for the safety of the prisoners but for the safety of your fellow correctional officers and the general public, as well. Correctional officers make sure security is maintained by knowing where the prisoners are at all times and whether or not they are abiding by the prison's rules. You also prevent disturbances, assaults, and escapes.

On a daily basis, correctional officers search inmates for hidden contraband, settle disputes, and discipline the prisoners. You also have to make sure the facility is clean and safe, inspect the mail for any incoming dangers, write reports, and fill out behavior logs.

Being a correctional officer can be dangerous as well as extremely stressful. But you are highly trained to take care of yourself and those you watch over. However, outside of the jail or prison where correctional officers are employed, you have no other law enforcement responsibilities.

How To Become A Correctional Officer

Before you can become a correctional officer, you need to be at least 18 years old and have either a high school diploma or a GED. Some states require college credits, as well. However, law enforcement or military experience counts toward those credits. Also, you must be a U.S citizen with no felony convictions.

To work as a correctional officer in a federal prison, the Federal Bureau of Prisons requires you to have a bachelor’s degree and three years of full-time experience in a field that provided counseling, assistance, or supervision (or a combination of the three) to even obtain an entry-level position.

Training academy is a requirement to becoming a correctional officer. Training varies from place to place, but many start with on-the-job training right out of the gate. Subjects that are taught are self-defense, institutional policies, regulations, and operations. You may be taught how to use firearms, although not always.

Pay For Correctional Officers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average salary for correctional officers was $58,810 in 2023, while the top 10 percent averaged closer to $87,250. You will receive health insurance as well as retirement benefits. Since correctional officers are uniformed, you don’t need to worry about purchasing clothing suitable for the work environment.

Sounds like a good career choice for you? See how much you already know with our criminal justice practice tests.