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State Corrections Worker: Job Duties & Career Info

Read on to see what state corrections workers do. Get the details about education and training. Find out what the career prospects are and learn if this job is a good fit for you.

Career Definition for a State Corrections Worker

State corrections workers are employed by correctional facilities, detainment centers, and prisons. They are responsible for supervising and ensuring the safety of inmates and those detained while awaiting trial. Typical duties include building relationships and rapport with inmates, defusing disruptive inmate behavior, monitoring visits between inmates and guests, searching inmates, conducting safety checks, and reporting to superiors.

Education High school diploma or GED usually required, bachelor's degree will boost your resume
Job Skills Physical fitness, performance under stress and danger, first aid and CPR
Median Salary (2015)* $40,530 for correctional officers and jailers
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 4% for correctional officers and jailers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

A high school diploma or GED equivalent is commonly required to become a state corrections worker, and a bachelor's degree from a 4-year college or university will enhance your competitiveness in this field. Common preparation may include introductory courses in criminal justice, classes in the social and behavioral sciences, and work in law enforcement. Additional requirements vary by state.

Required Skills

Because state corrections workers must interact with potentially dangerous inmates and prisoners, they should be physically fit and capable. An ability to perform well in stressful or dangerous situations will also serve you well if you're seeking a career in corrections. Some states may require state corrections workers to be U.S. Citizens or permanent residents, have a driver's license, and be certified in first aid and/or CPR.

Economic and Employment Outlook

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the number of positions in corrections is expected to grow 4% from 2014-2024. The median annual earnings of corrections workers and jailers in May 2015 were $40,530, per the BLS. Because state facilities have had to cut costs in recent years, the demand for correctional workers has correspondingly decreased.

Alternate Career Options

These are some other options you might pursue in law enforcement:

Correctional Treatment Specialist

A correctional treatment specialist works with inmates in a correctional facility to devise appropriate post-corrections rehabilitation plans, oftentimes in conjunction with parole officers or employees at other relevant social service agencies. Correctional treatment specialists also review inmate behavior and mental health assessments in preparing written reports that may be used by the parole board to make decisions. This job typically requires a bachelor's degree in social work, criminal justice, corrections, or a related area, followed by training and an exam to qualify for an entry-level, trainee position. Minimum and maximum age restrictions may apply. A driver's license is also a common requirement. The number of jobs in this field is expected to drop by 4% from 2014-2024, per the BLS, and correctional treatment specialists earned median pay of $49,360 in 2015.

Police Officer

A police officer upholds the law through regular patrols of assigned areas, watching for unlawful or suspicious activity, or on-the-scene work in response to calls for assistance, emergency and not. Police officers are responsible for serving warrants, investigating crimes, making arrests, writing citations, making traffic stops, and otherwise enforcing the law. A high school diploma or greater is usually required for entry into a police training academy, along with mental and physical fitness tests. Employment of police officers is expected to grow 4% from 2014-2024, per the BLS. The median pay of police and sheriff's patrol officers was $58,320 in 2015.


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