Prison Guard Certification and Certificate Program Information

Oct 20, 2019

The curriculum in a corrections officer vocational certificate program includes studies in law and procedures, emergency response and communications, with an emphasis on safety and self-defense. Take a look at the program courses and employment information.

Essential Information

Students interested in becoming prison guards can enroll in a correctional officer certificate program. In this program, students learn about the daily operations of a corrections facility, from the intake of new prisoners to preparing prisoners for release. Other areas of focus include substance abuse, juvenile offenders and methods for managing inmates who suffer from mental illness. Graduates are prepared to take credentialing exams to obtain a license and seek work in prisons, jails or juvenile detention centers. Students must be 19 years of age, have a high school diploma or the equivalent, meet the physical criteria, and have a clean criminal record.

Correctional Officer Certificate Program

Aspiring correctional officers often must meet certain physical requirements, and applicants to correctional officer certificate programs with misdemeanor or felony convictions often won't be considered for admission. Coursework in the program examines personal and inmate safety, the United States justice system and order maintenance techniques. Course topics might include:

  • Riot control
  • Inmate resistance
  • Suicide prevention
  • Inmate diversity
  • Interview techniques
  • Officer first aid

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that correctional officers and bailiffs held nearly 453,900 jobs in the U.S. in 2018, with most positions being in state government ( The BLS also reported that jobs in this profession were expected to decline by 7% from 2018-2028. The median annual salary of correctional officers and bailiffs was $44,330 in May 2018, per BLS figures.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Graduates are eligible to take credentialing exams to become licensed correctional officers in their home states. Because licensing requirements vary by state, graduates should refer to their state licensing boards for specific requirements. Graduates with at least one year of experience working as correctional officers are eligible to take the voluntary Certified Corrections Officer or Certified Corrections Officer Juvenile exams, administered by the American Correctional Association (

Certified corrections officers need to complete continuing education credits in two of six areas every three years to maintain certification. They often can earn continuing education credits by participating in education courses, corrections reading groups or staff training, presenting at a conference or publishing an article on corrections.

A correctional officer certification can be earned for individuals interested in a career as a prison guard. This program teaches students about personal and inmate safety through courses like riot control, inmate diversity, and officer first aid to prepare students for their future career in corrections.

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