What Does a Correctional Officer Do?
If you want to help keep the public safe and serve your community, this career could be a good fit for you.
Correctional officers oversee people who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been sentenced to serve time. Inside a prison or jail, they enforce rules and maintain security by preventing any disturbances, assaults or escapes. These officers also escort prisoners to courtrooms, medical facilities and other locations. Correctional officers with advanced training or experience are often utilized in the counseling and rehabilitation of inmates.
Working as a correctional officer can be rewarding, but also dangerous and stressful. Officers may work odd hours to cover nights, weekends and holidays.
- Keep order within a jail or prison
- Oversee the activities of inmates
- Inspect inmates for contraband items
- Report on inmate conduct
- Escort and transport inmates
- Ensure facilities meet security and safety standards
Correctional officers are employed by federal, state and local governments. The educational requirements vary depending upon the position and the level of government. Currently, many states and local governments require a high school diploma or GED. Federal corrections officer jobs require at least a bachelor's degree or three years of work experience in a related field such as supervision, counseling or criminal justice. Law enforcement or military experience may also be acceptable.
Applicants for a position as a corrections officer must typically be at least 18 or 21 years old, depending on the location, be a U.S. citizen and have no felony convictions.
- Make decisions quickly
- Have strong interpersonal skills
- Have a military or law enforcement background
- Negotiate effectively
- Are physically strong enough to protect inmates and yourself in a tense situation
- Have self-discipline