How to Get a Job in Corrections

Written by James Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Corrections officers can work in county, state, or federal prisons, as well as juvenile detention centers. Officers may also work at mental health or substance abuse centers. A broad job description is that correctional officers oversee inmates.

Main responsibilities include enforcing prison rules, keeping order, supervising inmates, rehabilitating and counseling inmates, inspecting prison facilities, searching inmates for contraband, and creating reports on inmate behavior.

By patrolling the prison, corrections officers prevent assaults or escape attempts. Officers keep an eye on inmates to make sure they are obeying the rules and completing any assigned work. Another important role is knowing where each of the inmates is at all times.

Corrections officers periodically search inmates for drugs and weapons. Prison cells are inspected for sanitary conditions, unauthorized items, or tampering with windows or bars. Violations regarding drugs, weapons, or other behavior are punished according to the offense.

Other responsibilities include escorting restrained prisoners to various locations inside the prison or between the prison and the court house for trial.

Salary for Corrections Officers

As of 2010, the median annual salary for corrections officers was approximately $43,000. Wages will vary depending on geographic region and type of facility.

Unsurprisingly, corrections officers at federal prisons earn the highest salary at over $50,000 per year. Those employed at psychiatric hospitals or substance abuse center earn approximately $48,000 annually. Corrections officers in state prisons earn an average of $44,000 per year. Officers at local jails earn around $42,000 annually.

States with the highest salary include New Jersey, California, Massachusetts, New York, and Alaska. Salaries in these states ranged from $55,000 to $70,000 annually. States with the lowest wages include Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Mississippi. Low salaries fell between $26,000 and $30,000.

Requirements for a Career in Corrections

In order to be considered for a position in corrections, one must be a U.S. Citizen, pass a background check, and pass a drug test.

For those interested in advancing in their career, one needs a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a similar field. Students can expect to study criminal investigations, constitutional law, and peacekeeping methods.

In addition to extensive on the job training, corrections officers may be required to attend continuing education classes.

As an added boost to a career in corrections, consider becoming a certified corrections officer by passing the American Correctional Association Exam.

Schools For Corrections

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