Corrections Officer Certificate and Certification Program Info

Read about certificate-level studies for aspiring corrections officers as well as professional certification in the field. Details about certificate programs include program prerequisites and course topics explored in the curricula. Also find out about continuing education options and career information.

Essential Information

Corrections officers supervise incarcerated individuals in detention facilities, enforcing rules and maintaining security. Certificate programs for corrections officers are generally available through 2-year community colleges and often require a commitment of one academic year, although shorter, more intensive programs are also available.

Corrections officer certificate programs comprise both classroom learning and hands-on practice in labs. Prospective corrections officers undertake physical training, as well as study correctional theories and applications. Students learn about the intake and release processes, sentencing policies, inmate control procedures, probation and parole. Some programs also incorporate on-the-job training in correctional institutions. Graduates are eligible for state certification.

Educational Prerequisites

Applicants to corrections officer certificate programs must be U.S. citizens and possess a state-issued driver's license. Additionally, they must pass a criminal background check. A high school diploma or equivalent is required for entry into the programs, and candidates may need to pass a basic abilities test prior to admittance. Some certificate programs stipulate minimum age requirements.

Course Topics

Students in corrections officer certificate programs develop problem solving and critical thinking abilities. Courses in sociology, cultural diversity and interpersonal relations are incorporated into the curriculum, along with classes covering:

  • Criminal justice
  • Corrections facilities and operations
  • Federal, state and local government
  • Legal issues in corrections
  • Firearms
  • Defensive tactics
  • Emergency preparation
  • Report writing for corrections

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Corrections officers find employment in both public and private detention centers, including prisons, juvenile correctional facilities and county jails. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), corrections officer employment was projected to increase five percent from 2010-2020, a percentage indicating slower-than-average growth. The median annual income for jailers and corrections officers was $39,040 as of May 2012, as reported by the BLS.

Professional Certification and Continuing Education Information

Corrections officers may apply to the American Correctional Association (ACA) in order to obtain professional certification. In order to become a Certified Corrections Officer (CCO), candidates must have a high school or GED diploma and one year of job experience and pass a certification exam. Certified Corrections Supervisor and Certified Corrections Manager credentials require an associate's degree, and the Certified Corrections Executive designation necessitates a bachelor's degree; however, work experience may be substituted in place of the degree requirements. Certification must be renewed every three years and requires completion of continuing education hours. Corrections officers seeking to work in the federal prison system must have a bachelor's degree.

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