Questions for Aspiring Correctional Officers
As with any law enforcement-related career, a correctional officer's job is physically and emotionally demanding. Your success as a correctional officer will depend on a variety of personal and interpersonal strengths and qualities. Use this quiz to see how yours measure up:
|Are you comfortable with a non-traditional work schedule?||Yes or No|
|Are you courageous?||Yes or No|
|Are you observant?||Yes or No|
|Do you have superior communication skills?||Yes or No|
|Are you physically strong?||Yes or No|
|Do you have interpersonal skills?||Yes or No|
|Do you handle stress well?||Yes or No|
|Do you have computer skills?||Yes or No|
|Are morals important to you?||Yes or No|
|Are you empathetic?||Yes or No|
Why You Need to Consider These Questions
Are you comfortable with a non-traditional work schedule?
Correctional facilities must be supervised 24 hours a day, seven days a week, throughout the year. So, as a correctional officer, you will likely be required to work on a rotating schedule that may include evenings, nights, weekends and holidays.
Are you courageous?
The possibility of danger is very real for correctional officers. In fact, correctional officers are more likely than most other professionals to be injured or fall ill. To succeed in this career, you will need to calmly handle dangerous situations with conflict management techniques. You will also need training in self-defense and the use of weapons.
Are you observant?
Correctional officers are responsible for ensuring safety and enforcing rules within corrections facilities. In this field, you will need to be alert, constantly observant of inmate behavior and security protocol, and exercise good judgment.
Do you have superior communication skills?
Effective communication, both verbally and in writing, is a critical skill for correctional officers. These are needed to generate written incident reports and daily logs, to provide clear verbal testimony when officially required, and to share information daily with peers, supervisors and inmates.
Are you physically strong?
A correctional officer's daily work requires physical strength and stamina. In this job, you may expect to spend much of your time on your feet, and need to be able to physically restrain inmates when necessary.
Do you have interpersonal skills?
Successful correctional officers keep a correctional facility calm more often through their interpersonal skills than by their physical strength. They accomplish this by balancing assertiveness with congeniality to establish respect, and using negotiation and other conflict resolution strategies whenever possible.
Do you handle stress well?
Between the constant possibility of danger and the high stress levels of inmates, correctional facilities are stressful environments. Correctional officers should be naturally cool-headed, remain calm and exercise self control in all situations.
Do you have computer skills?
In some facilities, correctional officers are required to use specific computer programs that track operations and maintain inmate records.
Are morals important to you?
As a correctional officer, you will share a great deal of time with suspected or convicted criminals. You will need to adhere to a strict personal code of ethics and morals.
Are you empathetic?
Despite morally objecting to the acts inmates have committed, successful correctional officers have empathy for those under their watch. An understanding of their feelings, experiences, and frustrations goes a long way in establishing rapport and maintaining a calm environment.
How to Pursue This Career
Did the answers to these questions convince you that this is the right career for you? If so, it might be time to begin researching employment opportunities! You may find work at local, regional or federal corrections facilities. While requirements vary by state and agency, to become a correctional officer, you will need at least a high school diploma and a felony-free history. For most jobs, you will need to complete both academy and hands-on training before being hired.