Detention Officer Training Program Information

Sep 15, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a detention officer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

Several places offer training programs for detention officers, which can take over a month to finish. The programs include both classroom and physical training. Upon completion, which involves a final exam, certification will be earned.

Essential Information

Detention officers ensure the safety and humane confinement of prisoners between their arrests and trials. The daily life of a detention officer can be dangerous, which is why a training course focused on crisis preparedness and inmate safety is usually required before or immediately after an officer is hired. To enroll in a training program, officers might be required to show proof of employment. They may also need to possess documents that align with the state's requirements for detention officers, such as proof of U.S. citizenship, a high school diploma and a criminal background check.

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent; Some agencies require some college or additional work experience
Other Requirements 4-5 weeks of state-mandated training
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* -7% for correctional officers and jailers
Average Salary (2018)* $49,300 for correctional officers and jailers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Courses prepare officers to ensure inmate safety and security. Detention officers receive training in emergency preparedness, safety programs and general detention operations. They might include psychology and human behavior. Officers practice using emergency equipment and prisoner medication policies. Certifications in CPR and first aid might be a part of officer training in addition to courses in facility and food sanitation.


Detention officer training programs are available at community colleges, local law enforcement offices or training academies. They can take 4-5 weeks to complete, and additional training might be required for officers working specifically in juvenile detention. Programs can require anywhere from 98-175 hours of class contact time and are typically offered a few times each year. Night classes may also be available.

Completion of Training Program

Training must be completed within a given period, usually in the first one or two years of employment. Officers usually need to successfully complete a final exam in order to gain certification. In addition to their initial training program, detention officers might also need to complete annual refresher training. Courses may be available online and usually cover any new legal information that is relevant for detention officers.

Job Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 434,300 correctional officers and jailers in the nation in 2018, and the field is expected to decline by 7% between 2018 and 2028. Although budget cuts and changes in sentencing laws may contribute to the below-average growth in this field, workers will still be needed to replace individuals who leave the profession or retire. The average salary for correctional officers and jailers in 2018 was $49,300, as reported by the BLS.

Detention officers must complete a training program that teaches them how to maintain safety and order among inmates. They also must pass various examinations that test their situational skills and physical fitness, in addition to undergoing a background check.

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