All court security officers must have a high school diploma or GED certificate. Most employers require or prefer court security officers to have completed college-level coursework, though military or law enforcement experience can sometimes replace formal education requirements. Two degree programs that prepare students for careers as court security officers are a criminal justice certificate and associate's degree in criminal justice.
Criminal Justice Certificate
A criminal justice certificate program generally requires one semester of study. Students learn basic criminal law and judicial processes. Courses allow students to identify causes and effects of criminal behavior, as well as correctional practices used by government and legal agencies. Courses may include the following:
- Criminal law
- Principles of law enforcement
- Correctional treatments and facilities
Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
An associate's degree in criminal justice exposes students to a greater range of criminal justice concepts. In a two-year associate's degree program, students learn about criminal behavior through sociology, psychology and criminology coursework. Students learn to investigate crimes, collect evidence and present findings in a legal setting. Courses include the following:
- Theory of crime
- Criminal justice procedures
- Juvenile corrections systems
- Constitutional law
- Justice administration
In addition to education or experience, court officers must pass a correctional officer training program at a state-approved academy. Academies teach officers the basics of firearm use, police and security practices and legal policies for correctional officers. Most employers require officers to complete comprehensive physical examinations that ensure officers are physically fit and have no hearing, eyesight or major health ailments.
Court security officers must be able to pass a thorough background test and firearms proficiency test. Psychiatric tests and polygraph exams are also common. Most employers require court officers to have a valid driver's license and have no felony convictions.
Job experience for court security officers varies by state, employer and level of responsibility. In general, court security officers must have one to three years of law enforcement or correctional experience, though this can sometimes be replaced by a formal education or military experience. On-the-job training programs are rare, as court security officers must complete a training academy program prior to employment.
There are no licenses or certifications for court security officers. However, officers must complete a law enforcement or correctional officer academy training program. Academy training programs vary in length of time and teach students how to properly use firearms, perform security and custody duties and follow legal regulations to provide overall safety and security. After completing a correctional officer training program, officers can begin their official employment.
The recently created Court Officers and Deputies Association (CODA), part of the National Sheriffs' Association (NSA), holds one- and two-day training seminars for court security officers. The training seminars discuss current court security practices and standards, security planning and development, judicial threat management and risk assessment concepts. Officers also learn about advanced emergency planning and response practices.
Security, Police, Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA) holds yearly conferences and conventions for security and correctional officers. The SPFPA discusses work-related trends in security and provides union and industry information and training. The American Correctional Association (ACA) also holds conferences and workshops for anyone in the correctional industry.
In order to pass physical exams and meet the demands of court security, officers must be physically fit and in good mental health. Many employers require court security officers to have good hearing and eyesight and no major health ailments. Written and verbal communication skills are expected to be exceptional, as court security officers are often required to write reports, communicate with courtroom staff or participate in interviews.
Criminal justice certificate and associate's degree programs prepare prospective court security officers by teaching them the basics of criminal law, criminal behavior and law enforcement. After completing these programs, students need to enroll in a correctional officer training program and can pursue continuing education seminars throughout their career.