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Correctional  Officer

Correctional officers are also known as detention officers, jail guards and prison guards.  They work overseeing activities related to the security of prison cells.  They supervise prison inmates and make sure there are no incidents of physical abuse, violence, crime and drug possession,

The correctional officer is the first line of defense between the prisoner and the public.  They make sure that prisoners follow the rules and laws established for that penal institution.  There is always the threat of physical and mental abuse.  Prisoners like to see just how far they can push a correctional officer before he or she breaks.

This is one career that takes a determined will and can test one's personal feelings.  To work in this environment is a physical and mental challenge, but can be very rewarding.  Positions exist at the city, county, state and federal levels.

Correction officers enforce the regulations and rules of the facility they protect.  They prevent escapes, assaults and disturbances.  Officers are required to search inmates for weapons and drugs, plus settle arguments between prisoners.  Officers cannot give any type of favoritism to inmates.

Prisoners can be a threat against prison personnel and other prisoners.  Cases of violence and breach of security are always present.  A correctional officer needs to be alert and always remember their goal is to maintain peace, keep order and make sure prisoners follow the laws and regulations.

Duties and responsibilities for a correctional officer.

  • Maintain a high order of discipline.
  • Watch the actions of inmates.
  • Prevent prisoners from escaping.
  • Stop disturbances between prisoners.
  • Protect all prison entrances and exits.
  • Ensure the safety of prisoners.
  • Maintain high personal standards.
  • Inspect cells for contraband.
  • Be in control of your situation, at all times.
  • Maintain incident reports.
  • Ensure the safety of visitors.
  • Patrol areas of responsibility.
  • Escort prisoners to other areas.
  • Report inmates actions to supervisors.
  • Carry a weapon and know how to use it.
  • Deal with fights and issues between inmates.
  • Maintain peace within the prison or jail.
  • Instruct inmates in various tasks.
  • Be vigilant when performing inspections.
  • Assist prisoners during court sessions.
  • Search inmates for weapons and contraband.
  • You are the police inside the prison.

Education requirements and earnings.                                                  

The education requirements vary for city, county, state and federal prisons.  The majority of positions require that you have a high school diploma or GED.  The majority of job openings require you to be at least 21 years old.  There are some that will allow you to start training at 18 years old.  The Federal Bureau of Prisons require you to have a bachelor's degree or 3 years of experience providing counseling to individuals; or a combination of both requirements.

Training for these various positions can run from one to six months.  This all depends on the size of the prison and number of inmates.  Correctional officers attend a training academy and are then assigned to a facility. The courses taught include the policies of the institution, operations, regulations and security procedures.  You will also be taught in firearms proficiency, self-defense and how to deal with prisoners.

Subjects that are taught at the academy level include negotiation skills, critical-thinking skills, self discipline, judgement skills, communication and writing skills.

To become a correctional officer for the federal government the education requirement is for a bachelor's degree.  In addition, you must have gained experience as a correctional officer at the city, county or state level.

Some city and county openings will accept you with a minor misdemeanor offence in your history, but if you have a felony conviction, forget it.  When you go to apply for the position, you will just have to ask what they accept and what they do not accept.

For example, in Salt Lake City, Utah, if you have a past misdemeanor drug conviction there is a 2 to 5 year waiting period from the date of conviction and it depends on the type of drugs that were involved. Misdemeanor crimes of dishonesty, unlawful sexual conduct and physical violence require a 4 year waiting period.

Misdemeanor conviction for DUI (1st offence) requires a 2 year waiting period from date of conviction.  If you served in the military, an honorable discharge is a requirement.  Convictions of minor crimes, other than traffic violations, will require a one year wait, depending on severity of the crime.

There are education institutions that now offer two year courses in correctional science.  This type of program is well worth looking into if you are serious about being a correction officer.

The yearly salary for a correctional officer can run from a low of $ 28,000 to $ 48,000, as reported by the Department of Labor.  Senior correctional officers can earn upwards of $ 55,000 to $ 70,000 per year.

Realize that if you have no experience and start out as a city jail guard your salary might begin around $ 24,000 per year.  It varies per institution; for example the average correctional officer in New York earns from $ 45,000 to $ 60,000 per year.

The base salary for a correctional officer in Salt Lake City, Utah, is around  $ 33,000 per year and goes up to approximately  $ 48,000 per year, after 12 years of service.  They also offer more income per month when you complete 2, 4 and 6 years of college.

The demand for correctional officers is on the increase.  It is estimated that this field will see a 10% annual increase for next 10 years.

Correctional officer videos.

Physical and mental requirements.

A typical requirement for physical strength is be able to do 26 push-ups, complete 26 sit-ups in one minute, finish a 1.5 mile run in under 15 minutes and do a vertical jump of 14 inches.
You will also be required to take The National Police Officer Selection Test (NSPOST) .  This is a multiple-choice, true/false, and short answer test.  It is designed to test your skills in math, grammar reading and report writing.
Stanard & Associates has prepared a NSPOST Study Guide and Sample Test for the U.S. Capital Police, if you would like to see what is contained in the test.  The material has a copyright, so please do not copy the sample test to post to a website.

Current job openings nationwide for Correctional Officers.  

This is a free search to give you an idea of current and new job openings.  The job listings are updated on an hourly basis.  You might want to see the current job openings for Correctional Officers.



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