County Jailer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Sep 17, 2019

Becoming a county jailer requires little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Becoming a county jailer does not typically require a postsecondary education, but a high school diploma or GED is needed. Some of the industries that a jailer can find work in include government, psychiatric hospital security and facility support services.

Essential Information

County jailers, also known as correctional officers, monitor prisoners that are being held at a county's correctional center for a variety of reasons. A career in this field typically requires a high school diploma, although some jails may require college credits. Other requirements can include a physical and mental exam, as well as a clean criminal background.

Required Education High school diploma or GED
Other Requirements On-site training, clean criminal record
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) -7% (correctional officers and jailers)
Median Salary (2018) $44,330 (correctional officers and jailers)

Job Duties of a County Jailer

Job duties of jailers typically include inmate processing, maintaining order in the jail and invoking disciplinary measures when necessary. In addition, a county jailer may also perform cell searches for drugs and other contraband, inspect the facility for cleanliness and stand guard during exercise periods.

County jailers that work in direct contact with inmates may not be able to carry a weapon. If they need assistance, jailers are often equipped with a radio. Jailers assigned to monitor criminals in solitary confinement often do so by closed-circuit television. They may also escort prisoners between the courtroom and the correctional facility while maintaining prisoner security and protecting the general public.

Requirements to Become a County Jailer

Individuals interested in a career as a county jailer or corrections officer usually need a high school diploma or GED, although some states or counties may require college credits or a degree. However, those who have served in the military or have previously worked in the criminal justice system may be able to substitute their experience for educational requirements.

Job candidates usually need to pass a criminal background check, a physical fitness test and a drug test, as well as meet age and citizenship requirements. Some facilities also require psychological testing to determine if a candidate can perform in a high-pressure and dangerous environment.

Some jails require job applicants to possess a college degree. There are associate's and bachelor's degrees in criminal justice with a concentration in corrections. Coursework in these programs may include penology, corrections and the law, juvenile crimes and crime theory. Some programs offer an internship option at a local correctional institution.

On-the-job training in areas such as firearms, self-defense, and interpersonal skills is typically required for jailers, but this may vary depending on the agency. Some areas require jailers to attend a training academy to learn these skills. Most new jailers work under the direct supervision of an experienced jailer for a few weeks or months before they are deemed ready to handle situations on their own.

Salary and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of correctional officers and jailers was predicted to decline through 2028. The BLS doesn't break the data down by type of facility, however. In May 2018, the BLS reported that workers in the 90th percentile or higher earned $76,760 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $31,140 or less per year.

The specific skills that jailers are trained in include lessons in self-defense, firearms and interpersonal skills. A criminal background check is typically conducted prior to hiring jailers, as are physical fitness and drug testing.

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