Federal Correctional Institute Career Information

Federal correctional institutes have employment opportunities in a variety of fields, including corrections, healthcare, psychology and spiritual counseling. Since these fields are so varied, some potential employees may spend more time fulfilling educational requirements than others.

Many career options exist for individuals wanting to work in federal correctional institutes. The Federal Bureau of Prisons offers a comprehensive overview of potential careers. Some jobs include correctional officer, registered nurse, chaplain, clinical psychologist and dental officer.

Career Options

Positions in federal correctional institutes often require a college degree or several years of on-the-job experience. Below you'll find more details on these careers.

Correctional Officers

Correctional officers make up the majority of the staff and are responsible for enforcing regulations among the inmates. A college degree is usually needed to become a correctional officer at a federal correctional institute. Depending upon the job's grade level, applicants need either a bachelor's degree in any field from an accredited school or between 9-14 hours of graduate study in criminology, criminal justice or a related field.

An appropriate amount of work experience may also qualify an individual. Correctional officers at federal correctional institutes must be under the age of 37 when applying for a position.

Registered Nurses

Since registered nurses are responsible for monitoring the medical conditions of inmates, they need to have a degree or diploma from an accredited nursing program. The American Correctional Association also has voluntary certification programs for corrections nurses. The upper-grade level requirements for a nursing career in a federal correctional institute include:

  • Master's degree in nursing
  • 2-2.5 years of graduate study in nursing or one year of specialized practice

Graduate study requirements include a concentration in a nursing field, such as clinical specialties and nursing administration, or a related non-nursing field. Some general course topics include:

  • Nursing practices
  • Safety procedures
  • Patient assessment
  • Pre- and post-operative care measures


Chaplains administer, supervise and provide spiritual and religious guidance to inmates of all faiths at federal correctional institutes. An undergraduate degree and a Master of Divinity are required. Some general course topics include:

  • Church history
  • Theology
  • Ministry
  • Sacred writings

Chaplains need to have at least two years of experience as a religious leader at a church or other ministerial setting. An ecclesiastical endorsement agency documents their qualifications as a minister. The American Correctional Chaplains Association offers a program to become a certified correctional chaplain, and this requires one year of experience prior to application.

Clinical Psychologists

Clinical psychologists are included as part of the inmates' healthcare team. Job duties include:

  • Conducting assessments
  • Interpreting results
  • Producing reports

Depending upon job grade level, clinical psychologists hold a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) from an accredited institution or hold a Ph.D. and have at least one year of professional or volunteer experience. An important course topic includes treatment and intervention methods in relation to the setting of a federal correctional institute. Like correctional officers, clinical psychologists need to be under the age of 37 when they apply for a position at a federal correctional institute.


Dentists, who perform the full-range of dental care on inmates, have a Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) degree. The D.M.D. or D.D.S. needs to be from an academic institution approved by the American Dental Association (ADA), the Council on Dental Education or a school that provides a dental program equivalent to those offered at ADA-approved schools. Important course topics focus on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of oral diseases.

Depending upon job grade level, applicants must have at least 2-3 years of dentistry experience. Dentists are licensed to practice in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico.

Those who want to work in a federal correctional institute can find employment in a variety of different positions, such as correctional officer, nurse, chaplain, psychologist and dentist. Each of these fields requires specific schooling and experience, and some have an age limit for application.

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