Correctional Officer Job Duties, Job Description and Career Options

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

View popular schools

Correctional officers are needed in any institution that house detainees, such as jails, prisons, or holding cells. Their work is physically and mentally demanding. Requirements for a corrections office vary depending on where they are seeking employment.

Essential Information

Correctional officers oversee individuals detained for legal reasons, whether they're awaiting trial or have been found guilty of a crime. The job is demanding and has a high risk of injury. Correctional officers are hired by many different agencies and they require at least a high school diploma. After hiring, officers complete a program at a training academy, followed by on-the-job training.

Required Education High school diploma or GED certificate; college programs are available and may be required by some facilities
Other Requirements Training academy program and on-the-job training
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 4%
Median Salary (2015)* $40,530

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Correctional Officer Job Duties

The primary duty of a correctional officer is to maintain order in a detention facility. This involves learning any and all rules of the facility in which they work and enforcing those regulations to be certain that inmates act in an orderly way. Enforcement procedures include arbitrating disputes between inmates, performing disciplinary action and performing inspections.

Correctional officers inspect inmates, their visitors, their mail and the cells they occupy for any items that violate the rules of the facility, such as drugs or weapons. They also check the facility in its entirety for fire hazards, conditions that don't meet sanitary standards, regulatory infractions and tampering of objects meant to bar entry.

The daily activities of correctional officers are typically recorded in a log. They are asked to give oral or written reports whenever there is a breach of regulations and on the work done by inmates over a period of time. Correctional officers also aid any other law enforcement personnel who must be summoned for a grievous breach of security, such as the escape of an inmate.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Corrections Admin
  • Corrections, Probation, and Parole
  • Criminal Justice and Safety Studies
  • Criminal Science
  • Forensic Science
  • Juvenile Corrections
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Police Science and Law Enforcement
  • Securities Services Mgmt
  • Security and Theft Prevention Services

Job Description

A correctional officer works in a detainment center to enforce the rules of order upon the individuals incarcerated there. Correctional officers may oversee people who have been arrested and are awaiting trial, or they may work in a jail where offenders found guilty have been placed. The profession is a stressful and demanding job, and the risk of on-site injury is fairly high. Correctional officers must remain impartial and cannot show favoritism to any inmate. They also keep a record of everyone admitted to or released from the facility in which they work; the population of detainees often changes.

Career Options

Correctional officers are employed and trained by many different agencies, such as the American Correctional Association and the American Jail Association. They are necessary for any type of detainment facility, like holding cells, prisons and jails. The various agencies all have different standard training programs, and officers may require extra training based on where they will be working.

With experience, correctional officers could advance to correctional sergeants. Additionally, correctional officers could seek employment as probationary officers or become members of the police force.

Correctional officers must be able to retain emotional and mental distance from inmates, and be able to handle confrontations and maintain order within the facilities where they work. They may work with people awaiting trial or those who have been found guilty and are incarcerated. Specialized training programs are required to prepare new correctional officers for the challenges in their work environment.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma of GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?