NYC Correction Officer Career Info and Education Requirements

Explore the requirements to become an NYC correctional officer. Learn about the job description and duties, and take a look at the step-by-step process that can help you start a career in corrections.

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Should I Become a NYC Correction Officer?

NYC correction officers work to maintain the security of the correctional facility to which they are assigned. They work under the supervision of higher-ranking correction officers to secure the custody of inmates and oversee the safety of criminal offenders in New York City correctional facilities. Tasks may include supervising inmate activities, conducting searches for banned materials, instructing inmates on rules and regulations, helping resolve inmate conflicts and problems, supervising visits, and requesting medical assistance for inmates when necessary.

Correctional officers work almost always in government-funded correctional facilities; working for the government comes with a measure of job security, good pay, and benefits. Officers may work indoors or outdoors in all types of weather. Prison environments may vary from clean, well-lit, and air-conditioned, to older buildings with no air, poor lighting, which may be in disrepair. Officers must be physically fit and comfortable with conflicts, including physical altercations. Day-to-day, correctional officers stand and walk for hours at a time. The job is more dangerous than most: there are risks of injury and illness while working with inmates in tight quarters, and subduing fights, riots, and attacks are possible in this line of work.

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Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma or equivalent (minimum); associate's degree, bachelor's degree programs available
Certification Voluntary professional certification is available
Experience Two years of military experience or experience working full-time in law enforcement, although this is waived for applicants with college credits
Key Skills Strong skills in written, verbal and interpersonal communication, problem solving, critical thinking and negotiating, as well as self-discipline, physical strength and the ability to use good judgment, must be aware and avoid potential problems, memorization skills, physical stamina. Additional Requirements Must be a U.S. citizen, have a current New York State driver's license, be a resident of New York City and pass drug screening, meet age requirements
Salary $39,780 (median annual salary nationwide for correctional officers 2014)

Sources: The City of New York Department of Citywide Administrative Services, American Correctional Association, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Step 1: Meet the Requirements

Three requirement options may be fulfilled individually for the applicant to qualify. The first is having 60 semester credits, which includes 39 credit hours at the college level and 21 credit hours of academy training. The second option is two years of experience in the U.S. Military after earning a high school diploma or equivalent. Finally, future correction officers can meet the requirement by having at least two years' experience as a police officer, peace officer or special patrolman.

Step 2: Take the Eligibility Exam

The New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) administers the correction officer exam, and it's offered at two DCAS testing locations. Individuals can apply online using the department's online application system or in person at the testing centers in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The NYC correction officer test is a multiple-choice, computerized exam that tests such abilities as written comprehension, mathematical reasoning, problem sensitivity, deductive reasoning, visualization, spatial orientation and memorization. Individuals must receive a score of 70% or better to pass the test and be given a spot on the eligible list. After passing the test, each individual's name is placed on the list in order of final testing scores. After meeting other eligibility requirements, including passing a drug test, physical exam and psychological assessment, applicants will be considered for appointment to correction officer training.

Success Tips:

  • Schedule the exam early in the month. Seating at each DCAS testing center is limited, and according to the DCAS, earlier testing times tend to be less busy.
  • Leave prohibited items at home. Pagers, beepers, cellular phones, cameras and other electronic devices aren't allowed in the testing center. Applicants who are found to have banned items will have their test scores nullified; DCAS does not refund the application fee.

Step 3: Complete Correction Officer Academy Training.

The 1-year training program includes at least eight weeks of training at the Correctional Services Training Academy and training in areas like interpersonal communications, security measures, emergency response procedures and correctional issues. In addition to classroom learning, trainees receive physical training to develop the stamina and strength needed for the job.

Step 4: Obtain a Correction Officer Position

After passing the examination, individuals are appointed as correction officers and assigned to city facilities, based on each facility's staffing needs. During this time, correction officers will need to meet the State of New York for Peace Officers requirements, pass a firearms qualifications test and satisfactorily pass the investigation process. Correction officers will be placed on probation for two years, and they will need to complete a training course and obtain on-the-job training.

Success Tip:

  • Look for professional certification options. Voluntary professional credentials, such as the American Correctional Association's Certified Corrections Officer (CCO), are available. The CCO certification requires passing an exam, and applicants need to have a high school diploma or GED and at least one year of experience as a correction officer. Voluntary certifications can support professional growth and advancement.
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