Correctional Administrator: Job Duties and Requirements

Apr 26, 2021

Correctional administrators provide supervision and leadership in prisons and jails. A high school diploma is generally the minimum requirement for this position, though some employers prefer to hire those with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or related field; positions in a federal institutions require a bachelor's degree. Coursework may include subjects like sociology, statistics, criminology, and victimology.

Essential Information

A correctional administrator has both leadership and clerical roles within a prison or jail. Their job duties can range from planning budgets and programs to maintaining order among the inmates. While a high school diploma or the equivalent can meet basic education requirements, many facilities require that correctional staff have some minimum combination of work and educational experience. A bachelor's degree is often recommended for administration jobs. Correctional officers also must complete a program at a training academy.

Required Education High school diploma at minimum; bachelor's degree in criminal justice or related field is recommended
Other Requirements Training academy
Projected Job Outlook (2019-2029)* -7% for all correctional officers and jailers
Median Salary (2020)* $60,910 for first-line supervisors of correctional officers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Job Duties

Correctional officers are primarily responsible for supervising individuals who are being detained at various stages of the criminal justice system. This may call for work in a variety of settings, including reformatories, jails, state prisons and federal prisons. Among their multiple responsibilities, they are commonly required to enforce the rules of the facility, monitor inmates, conduct searches, escort prisoners to destinations and operate surveillance equipment. Additionally, officers are typically required to file reports about incidents involving detainees that occur throughout the day.

Officers may be promoted to correctional sergeants, administrators or supervisors. This could expand their responsibilities to the management of other correctional officers as well as continuing to ensure the security of the facility. Additional responsibilities could include overseeing operations within the facility, including food preparation, scheduling of recreation and supervision of the facility's public entrances.

Salary and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected correctional officers to see a decrease in employment from 2019-2029. As of May 2020, corrections officers and jailers reported a mean annual salary of $52,340, while their first-line supervisors had a mean annual salary of $67,600.

Education and Work Experience Requirements

Aspiring correctional administrators are typically required to have earned at least a high school diploma or its equivalent to work in this field. Depending on the institution, this level of education may be all that is necessary, along with a training academy experience. In the case of federal institutions, the Federal Bureau of Prisons requires that all correctional officers hold at least a bachelor's degree, or a minimum amount of education in combination with work experience. Time in military service may also act as a substitute for higher education.

A bachelor's degree in criminal justice or criminology could be useful to an aspiring correctional administrator. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, advancement in this field may be more available to an individual holding a bachelor's degree ( Through a bachelor's degree program in criminal justice, students can study subjects like sociology, victimology, statistics, criminology, law and the court system. Students may have the opportunity to engage in criminal justice internships, which could allow for some hands-on experience in a correctional facility.

Correctional administrators work in settings like jails, state prisons, and reformatories to enforce the rules of the facility and oversee other corrections workers. In addition to administrative functions, their work often includes monitoring inmates, conducting searches, and operating surveillance equipment. Projected job growth in this field declines for all occupations.

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