What does a Correctional Officer do?

Median Pay $43,510
Growth Rate -7%
Citation Retrieved from BLS.gov

Correctional officers are responsible for monitoring prisons and jail inmates. Tasks include maintaining security and peace at all times, breaking up disputes, respond to emergencies, and maintaining inmate counts. They must be aware of their surroundings at all times and these officers are required to report any inmate violations in jail or prison rules and regulations.

Watch a Video:

Find a College

How to Become a Correctional Officer

A correctional officer would need at least a high school diploma or the equivalent to be considered for employment, but some state and local corrections agencies ask for some college credits as well. You will enter a training academy and then receive on-the-job training. Military experience or those with law enforcement backgrounds may be substituted to meet requirements.

Job Description of a Correctional Officer

become a correctional officer

A correctional officer supervises the inmates at a jail or prison that are awaiting trial, serving sentences or have been arrested. They are charged with enforcing rules and regulations while overseeing the daily activities of inmates. The officer must be constantly aware of the location of any given inmate at all times and prevent disturbances, escapes or assaults. A correctional officer may use handcuffs or leg irons to transfer inmates from one place to another and make reports of conduct, condition or corrections used for any person. They enforce punishments when necessary and search prisoners for illegal contraband, like, drugs or weapons.

They would search the prison cells and other areas and include searching for any breach in security or other dangers. An officer may aide an inmate with a rehabilitation process by encouraging educational opportunities and counseling. This occupation carries a higher than average rate of injury and danger due to prison violence and other hazards.

Correctional Officer Career Video Transcript

Maintaining a balance of the 3 “Cs” – care, custody, and control with the incarcerated is up to correctional officers and bailiffs. They keep prisoners safe and contained. Correctional officers oversee people who have been imprisoned, enforce the facility’s rules and regulations, and monitor the whereabouts of inmates at all times. They search inmates and cells for weapons and drugs, and may need to restrain inmates for safety or to escort them.

Correctional officers settle disputes and enforce discipline, but also may schedule work assignments and other activities. Daily logs and reports detailing every shift are required. Bailiffs are law enforcement officers who maintain safety and order in courtrooms. They guard juries, deliver court documents, and enforce courtroom rules. Most correctional officers work for government correctional institutions— some modern and well-maintained, and some old, hot, and overcrowded. Bailiffs work in courtrooms.

Working in a correctional institution can be stressful and dangerous. Injuries and illness rates are some of the highest of all careers. Officers work in shifts 24/7, including weekends and holidays. In addition to a high school education, officers train in a special academy, and may also receive on-the-job training at a facility. Federal prisons require a bachelor’s degree or related work experience. Candidates must not have a felony conviction.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Correctional Officers.

National Center for O*NET Development. 33-3012.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.