Jailer Career Information: Becoming a Jailer

Learn how to become a jailer or correctional officer. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in the correctional field.

Should I Become a Jailer?

Jailers, also known as correctional officers, work in municipal and county jails as well as federal prisons. These professionals supervise inmates and enforce the rules of the institution. Individuals working inside jails and prisons are tasked with keeping track of inmates and maintaining order. They conduct prisoner counts, inspect mail, screen visitors and track prisoner activities on a daily basis.

Jailers may work with youths or adults and must have training in the rules and regulations of the corrections system. They may have to inspect prisoners' cells for prohibited items and use handcuffs or physical force to keep order. At some facilities, they may work longer than 8-hour shifts.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma; federal facilities require bachelor's degree
Experience 3 years of experience in counseling or supervising
Licensure and Certification Licenses may be attained throughout career; additional training requirements vary by facility and specialized role
Salary $34,750 (median salary for all types of correctional officers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Complete the Education Requirements

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that a high school diploma is the minimum educational requirement by all agencies in all states. However, in order to work in a federal facility, the Federal Bureau of Prisons requires a bachelor's degree or a combination of education and three years of full-time work experience in a counseling or supervisory position.

Step 2: Complete Job Training

Many employers provide jailer training based on American Corrections Association and American Jail Association guidelines. For example, municipal jailers, who are members of special response teams, receive training in deploying chemical agents, disarming inmates and protecting themselves from the use of harmful items. Alternatively, during their first year of hire, corrections officers in federal prisons must complete 200 hours of training, including 120 hours of specialized training.

Step 3: Consider Certification and Career Advancement Options

Jailers can also participate in continuing education and receive certifications from the American Correctional Association (ACA). Applicants must meet educational and corresponding work experience requirements. Those who do may take the ACA's certification exam to earn their credentials.

In their careers, correctional officers can advance as correctional sergeants or transfer to other related roles, such as parole or probation officers.

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