Should I Become a Jailer?
Jailers, also known as correctional officers, work in municipal and county jails as well as federal prisons. These professionals supervise inmates and enforce the rules of the institution. Individuals working inside jails and prisons are tasked with keeping track of inmates and maintaining order. They conduct prisoner counts, inspect mail, screen visitors, and track prisoner activities on a daily basis.
Jailers may work with youths or adults and must have training in the rules and regulations of the corrections system. They may have to inspect prisoners' cells for prohibited items and use handcuffs or physical force to keep order. At some facilities, they may work longer than 8-hour shifts. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median annual salary of $44,330 in May 2018 for jailers and correctional officers.
|Degree Level||High school diploma; federal facilities require bachelor's degree|
|Training||Additional training requirements vary by facility and specialized role|
|Experience||3 years of experience in counseling or supervising|
|Licensure||Licenses may be attained throughout career|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Steps to Become a Jailer
Step 1: Complete the Education Requirements
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that a high school diploma is the minimum educational requirement by all agencies in all states. However, in order to work in a federal facility, the Federal Bureau of Prisons requires a bachelor's degree or a combination of education and three years of full-time work experience in a counseling or supervisory position.
Step 2: Complete Job Training
Many employers provide jailer training based on American Corrections Association and American Jail Association guidelines. For example, municipal jailers, who are members of special response teams, receive training in deploying chemical agents, disarming inmates, and protecting themselves from the use of harmful items. Alternatively, during their first year of hire, corrections officers in federal prisons must complete 200 hours of training, including 120 hours of specialized training.
Step 3: Consider Certification and Career Advancement Options
Jailers can also participate in continuing education and receive certifications from the American Correctional Association (ACA). Applicants must meet educational and corresponding work experience requirements. Those who do may take the ACA's certification exam to earn their credentials. In their careers, correctional officers can advance as correctional sergeants or transfer to other related roles, such as parole or probation officers.
To become a jailer, you'll need to meet employer education requirements and complete job training.