Federal Prison Correction Officer: Educational Requirements

Sep 12, 2019

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

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If you are considering a career as a federal prison correction officer, you will need a bachelor's degree or three years of relevant work experience. Additionally, you will need to complete specialized training, and ongoing continuing education is required to stay current with policy changes in this field.

Essential Information

Federal prison correction officers monitor prison facilities and inmates. These professionals routinely check prison cells for contraband, enforce discipline and settle disputes among inmates. In addition to specialized training, educational requirements generally include at least a college degree or three years of general work experience.

Required Education Bachelor's degree minimum requirement for candidates with no relevant work experience
Other Requirements At least 3 years of relevant work experience for candidates without a degree; all applicants must complete specialized training
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 7% decline for all correctional officers and bailiffs
Mean Salary (2018)* $57,540 for all correctional officers and jailers employed by the federal executive branch

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements for Federal Prison Correction Officers

An aspiring federal prison correction officer may consider earning a bachelor's degree, which is the minimum educational requirement for candidates who have no relevant experience. Although there is no required course of study, college students might choose programs in criminal justice or law enforcement to gain experience with principles and practices regarding peacekeeping, human behavior and rehabilitation programs. Programs generally begin with courses that introduce students to concepts in psychology, criminology and law.

Upper Division Classes

Once students have completed core requirements and been accepted into the major, they may delve into more advanced studies, such as crime prevention and security management. These courses let students learn and develop skills in objective analysis of inmate behavior and policy administration within prison facilities.

Students may also participate in seminar classes. Seminar classes allow students to collaborate with professors and one another to discuss key issues in correctional facilities, such as contraband control and inmate psychology. Topics may range from prison gangs to disciplinarian measures.

General Experience Route for Becoming a Federal Prison Correction Officer

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) also accepts applicants who have demonstrated three years of stable work history in fields such as counseling, education, sales and management (www.bop.gov). Accordingly, teachers, medical professionals, sales representatives and shift supervisors with the appropriate level of experience may all consider employment as a federal prison correction officer.

Specialized Training for Federal Prison Correction Officers

Once accepted, all applicants become trainees. In addition to on-the-job training in subjects ranging from self-defense to inmate counseling, trainees are required to participate in 120 hours of specialized training in Glynco, Georgia within their first 60 days. Trainees are also required to complete at least 200 hours of training within their first year as a federal correctional officer. Annual continuing education is mandated in order to be current with changes in policy.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), correctional officers and jailers employed at the federal level earned an average annual salary of $57,540 as of May 2018. The BLS also noted that employment of all correctional officers and bailiffs was predicted to decrease 7% from 2018-2028. Decreasing crime rates and reduced budgets are the primary factors behind this slow job growth.

Federal prison correction officers typically hold a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or law enforcement, or have at least thee years of experience in an education, sales or management position. A bachelor's degree program will prepare a candidate, and completion of a specialized training program in Georgia is required. Demand for all correctional officers and bailiffs is predicted to decline, with job opportunities decreasing by 7% through 2028.

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