Career Definition for a County Corrections Officer
County correctional officers are often civil service workers who supervise and closely monitor jail or correctional facility inmates and the facility itself. They watch over both those who are awaiting trial and those who have already been convicted and are serving their sentences. County corrections officers are often required to work night and weekend shifts. Some county correctional officers may also be members of a labor union, depending on locality.
|Education||High school diploma required, work experience and bachelor's degree also preferred|
|Job Skills||Observation and communication, physical health, people skills, stamina|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$40,530 (for correctional officers and bailiffs)|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)*||4% (for correctional officers and bailiffs)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A high school diploma is required for a career as a county correctional officer. Some communities may also require a bachelor's degree or relevant experience, or some may take a combination of the two. County corrections officers who hold bachelor's degrees usually study criminal justice or psychology. Aspiring county correctional officers often attend a training academy where they may study firearms, established policies and procedures for correctional facility operations, and safety and first aid.
County correctional officers need to have good observation and communication skills. Excellent people skills are needed to defuse the often potentially dangerous situations that arise every day in correction facilities. They need to be able to follow instructions and have good physical health and stamina. Some county correctional officers may need to have a valid driver's license as well.
Career and Economic Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that the employment of correctional officers and bailiffs, including county correctional officers, will grow by about 4% from 2014 to 2024, slower than average when compared to all occupations. Because corrections facilities have had to cut costs in recent years, there are fewer new job opportunities; however, job turnover should create openings. The BLS published the median annual salary for all correctional officers and jailers as $40,530 in May 2015.
Alternate Career Options
Here are some other ideas for careers in law enforcement:
A probation officer works with people who have been convicted of crimes but sentenced to probation instead of prison. They work with adults or juveniles and meet with them regularly to monitor their progress toward rehabilitation, offer advice and resources as needed, and write reports that outline offenders' work toward goals. Most employers require candidates to be at least 21 years old and have at least a bachelor's degree in a related field; candidates are also often subject to oral, written, and psychological tests. Completion of a specialized training program and certification may also be required. Probation officers can expect job growth of 4% from 2014-2024, according to the BLS, and working probation officers earned median pay of $49,360 in 2015.
Police officers enforce laws and protect life and property through regularly assigned patrols. They may conduct traffic stops and write tickets, and respond to emergency calls for help. Police officers also arrest people suspected of committing a crime, prepare related paperwork, and testify in court as required. Employment qualifications can vary but aspiring police officers typically need to be 21 years of age or older and a high school diploma to qualify for police academy. Some departments require some college, too. Candidates usually complete physical and written testing. The BLS reported that jobs for police officers are predicted to grow 4% from 2014-2024. Police officers earned median pay of $60,270 in 2015, per the BLS.