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Correctional Officers and Jailers


Training and Education

What's Needed:

  • State and local facilities usually require a high school diploma or a GED not a four-year program or other training; these facilities are often the entry point for those who intend to work in federal facilities.
  • Federal prison correctional officers with a GS-05 designation the entry level for federal workers must have a bachelor's degree or three years of experience in a related field such as law enforcement security or emergency response.

Advancement as a correctional officer is predicated on experience and education. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons GS-06 positions require at least nine semester hours of graduate education in a related field such as criminal justice psychology or sociology. Applicants can also earn advancement through good performance for a minimum of one year as an officer in the correctional system.

Guards in federal facilities must receive a minimum of 200 hours of training in their first year of work. That figure includes 120 hours at a Bureau of Prisons's training academy one of a number of residential facilities.

What courses you'll take

Below are examples of courses that you'll likely take as a correctional officer or jailer student.

Introduction to CorrectionsBroadly overviews adult and juvenile corrections in the US including incarceration probation and parole. Covers: legal considerations; operations of different types of correctional institutions; and relationships between corrections and other parts of the US judicial system.Provide core knowledge that corrections students will apply to further studies.
Basic Jail Principles and PracticesMore oriented towards those seeking jailer positions covers topics such as: observation; prisoner evaluation; booking procedures; mug shots; fingerprinting; inmate rights and priviledges; key and knife control; riots; fire procedures; and release procedures.Prepare students seeking jailer positions with foundation knowledge needed to effectively and safely take on their roles.
Correctional InstitutionsSurveys correctional facilities operated at the federal state and local levels. Topics covered can include: historical perspectives; philosophies; management; security; types of facilities; and role of staff.Give students a base line understanding of the operations of the correctional facilities for which they will be working.
Correctional ClientsFocuses on human behavior as related to inmates including impacts of: community families; lifestyles; drug abuse; personality development; and psychiatric conditions.Builds an understanding of what influences inmate behavior.
Control and Supervision in a Correction FacilityOverviews the issues of supervision of inmates in various types of correctional institutions. Considers circumstances ranging from daily routines to crisis situations. Subjects covered can include: inmate subcultures; violence; crowding; coping for officers in hostile prison conditions; and causes of impacts of abusive tactics.Prepare students to take on managerial roles in correctional institutions.
Legal Issues in CorrectionsReviews legal issues related to corrections including: court processes; prisoner rights; liability concerns; and impacts of law on correctional decisions.Ready students to consider legal issues in their day-to-day activities and decision making.
CommunicationsTeaches verbal and writing skills for managing inmates including: giving directions; answering questions; interpersonal communication techniques; telecommunications; interviewing; and writing different types of documents.Enhance the skills of students to effectively communicate with inmates colleagues and their supervisors.
Report WritingCovers in-depth various aspects of report writing related to correctional officer responsibilities including: vocabulary; sentence structure; use of notes; maintaining case notebooks; interviewing techniques; preparation of different types of criminal system reports.Ready students for creating a variety of reports used in the corrections field.

Video Overview

A brief look at the work of correctional officers. Produced for the US Department of Labor.

Certifications and Licensing

The American Correctional Association offers a certification program to become a Certified Correctional Officer (CCO). While this certification is not mandatory it can help officers secure promotions. Becoming certified in specialized areas such as riot control or career counseling may also lead to promotions and suit certified officers for specific roles within the system.

Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time: Being a federal correctional officer is a full-time job. Some state and local facilities do have room for part-time guards and many police officers do additional work in local jails. Although shifts are generally static prisons can be a volatile environment; guards may have to work overtime or come in on weekends. Officers who move up to a supervisory position may need to put in extra time to handle paperwork especially if an incident occurs on their shift.

Recommended Websites

  • Federal Bureau of Prisons – This division of the U.S. Department of Justice provides prospective prison workers with a thorough overview of available jobs. Visitors can learn about the requirements to become a correctional officer and find openings throughout the country. The eligibility requirements listed are for federal prison work. State and local facilities have different requirements but for those working toward federal employment these guidelines are useful.
  • American Correctional Association – This professional organization offers additional training and seminars for current correctional officers. It also features certification options for prospective officers offering online coursework and proctored exams to become a Certified Correctional Officer. This resource is good for current police officers and military personnel who are considering a career move as well as for new entrants to the field.
  • American Jail Association – A professional organization that focuses on current correctional officers' unique challenges and workplace stresses this site gives prospective guards a clear look at the career. The non-profit organization offers educational materials access to training opportunities and a bi-monthly magazine. For future correctional officers its news section and discussion forums are educational.

Salaries by City

See typical salaries and ranges for this career below Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.

StateCity / RegionTypical SalarySalary RangeJob Count% of All Jobs
ALAnniston – Oxford$25140$21K – $35K900.20%
ALBirmingham – Hoover$34630$25K – $47K10800.22%
ALDecatur$29150$25K – $37K1800.35%
ALDothan$26650$19K – $33K1200.21%
ALHuntsvilleN/AN/A – N/A4600.23%
ALMontgomery$36020$27K – $50K13400.85%
ARFayetteville – Springdale – Rogers$30610$23K – $38K2600.13%
ARFort Smith$27650$24K – $36K1300.12%
ARLittle Rock – North Little Rock – Conway$29230$22K – $38K6800.20%
ARPine Bluff$32140$28K – $42K16604.78%
AZPhoenix – Mesa – Glendale$40660$32K – $54K82600.48%
AZTucson$39170$32K – $48K20600.59%
AZYuma$36150$31K – $45K8801.59%
CABakersfield – DelanoN/AN/A – N/A43601.59%
CAFresno$68100$40K – $77K14500.46%
CALos Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area)$54280$42K – $76K37800.10%
CAOakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area)$66100$53K – $75K4800.05%
CARiverside – San Bernardino – Ontario$71970$51K – $77K49700.43%
CASacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville$74210$61K – $80K18400.22%
CASalinas$72600$55K – $79K18001.16%
CASan Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos$60330$45K – $76K25100.20%
CASan Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area)$76310$52K – $84K12300.12%
CASanta Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area)$51650$41K – $66K9100.06%
CASanta Barbara – Santa Maria – Goleta$62220$47K – $73K5000.30%
CODenver – Aurora – Broomfield$49950$38K – $68K24000.20%
COPueblo$44390$32K – $57K6201.13%
DCWashington – Arlington – Alexandria (Metro Area)$48670$32K – $77K50000.21%
DEWilmington (Metro Area)$33870$30K – $55K7200.22%
FLFort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach (Metro Area)$62050$33K – $75K14100.20%
FLGainesville$34800$31K – $43K6800.57%
FLNorth Port – Bradenton – Sarasota$44050$24K – $59K2900.12%
FLOrlando – Kissimmee – Sanford$36600$31K – $52K26400.26%
FLPanama City – Lynn Haven – Panama City Beach$34240$27K – $41K4500.65%
FLPensacola – Ferry Pass – Brent$34950$31K – $45K17901.19%
FLPort St. Lucie$37230$31K – $58K6800.56%
FLPunta Gorda$36470$32K – $46K3800.94%
FLTampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater$45660$32K – $68K23600.21%
GAAlbany$28160$25K – $35K5500.92%
GAAthens – Clarke County$27420$21K – $39K1200.16%
GAAtlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta$31210$25K – $45K36900.16%
GABrunswick$26130$21K – $33K1400.36%
GAColumbus$29530$25K – $37K5100.47%
GAGainesville$33170$26K – $40K1600.22%
GASavannah$27950$25K – $35K5800.39%
GAWarner Robins$29280$25K – $38K1400.25%
HIHonolulu$45950$40K – $58K10600.25%
IACedar Rapids$36750$27K – $54KN/AN/A
IADavenport – Moline – Rock Island$49630$35K – $58K3600.20%
IASioux City$38650$31K – $49K1000.14%
IDIdaho Falls$35090$27K – $45K1200.25%
IDLewiston$35140$25K – $45K400.17%
IDPocatello$31470$28K – $39K1200.38%
ILChampaign – Urbana$45310$31K – $61K400.05%
ILChicago – Joliet – Naperville (Metro Area)$54430$43K – $69K39200.11%
ILLake County – Kenosha County (Metro Area)$56200$41K – $75K2400.07%
ILPeoria$50440$39K – $59K2000.11%
INBloomington$32910$26K – $38K1000.13%
INEvansville$30610$21K – $38K2200.13%
INFort Wayne$34670$29K – $43K2500.12%
INGary (Metro Area)$32940$26K – $38KN/AN/A
INIndianapolis – Carmel$32690$27K – $42K21700.24%
INLafayette$33860$27K – $38K1100.13%
INMuncie$29290$17K – $36K1200.27%
KSManhattan$30350$23K – $38K1100.22%
KSTopeka$29780$26K – $42K5700.54%
KSWichita$29220$26K – $37K4700.17%
KYBowling Green$25230$20K – $30K1500.26%
KYLexington – Fayette$33860$23K – $56K6500.27%
KYLouisville – Jefferson County$27230$23K – $39K18800.32%
LAAlexandria$41880$27K – $57K5400.88%
LABaton Rouge$33550$25K – $48K29100.80%
LAHouma – Bayou Cane – Thibodaux$33960$24K – $42K3200.34%
LALafayette$30950$21K – $47K3000.20%
LALake Charles$37070$24K – $46K3300.38%
LANew Orleans – Metairie – Kenner$25240$21K – $36K9200.18%
LAShreveport – Bossier City$36250$28K – $50K5100.29%
MABarnstable Town$36100$23K – $56K900.10%
MABoston – Cambridge – Quincy (Metro Area)$63710$45K – $73K45600.27%
MASpringfield$53050$42K – $55KN/AN/A
MDBaltimore – Towson$41830$37K – $51K38200.30%
MDCumberland$42560$39K – $51K8702.39%
MDSalisbury$40390$34K – $50K6901.37%
MIAnn Arbor$50810$41K – $60K7300.38%
MIDetroit – Livonia – Dearborn (Metro Area)$50800$35K – $54KN/AN/A
MIGrand Rapids – Wyoming$50810$45K – $63K11100.29%
MILansing – East Lansing$46930$34K – $58K1900.10%
MIWarren – Troy – Farmington Hills (Metro Area)$48060$36K – $56K18000.17%
MNDuluth$45200$34K – $57K3600.29%
MNMinneapolis – St. Paul – Bloomington$45760$35K – $58K27900.16%
MNRochester$49140$35K – $59K1600.16%
MNSt. Cloud$45590$36K – $62K1500.16%
MOCape Girardeau – Jackson$52570$30K – $59K4301.02%
MOJefferson City$27900$25K – $34K11501.63%
MOKansas City$29540$23K – $52K21100.22%
MOSpringfield$46550$25K – $59K3400.18%
MOSt. Joseph$27690$25K – $33K4000.78%
MOSt. Louis$35320$26K – $56K22500.18%
MSGulfport – Biloxi$27640$22K – $36K1800.18%
MSHattiesburg$n$24630$20K – $30K15200.61%
MTBillings$33690$26K – $41K1200.15%
NCAsheville$31170$26K – $38K3700.22%
NCCharlotte – Gastonia – Rock Hill$33980$29K – $44K22300.26%
NCHickory – Lenoir – Morganton$29670$27K – $34K14100.99%
NCRaleigh – Cary$30010$28K – $36K16400.32%
NCRocky Mount$29670$27K – $35K4300.77%
NCWilmington$29680$28K – $36K4300.32%
NDBismarck$36570$31K – $46K1400.22%
NDFargo$35270$27K – $63K800.06%
NELincoln$31960$30K – $42K6600.40%
NEOmaha – Council Bluffs$41340$29K – $58K6800.15%
NJEdison – New Brunswick (Metro Area)$78150$39K – $96K18800.19%
NJNewark – Union (Metro Area)$72670$42K – $87K20700.22%
NJVineland – Millville – Bridgeton$75420$52K – $81K19203.27%
NMAlbuquerque$31630$26K – $41K11000.30%
NMFarmington$34440$30K – $42K1900.38%
NMLas Cruces$32030$23K – $53

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