How to Become a Correctional Officer: Step-by-step Guide

Develop a fearless attitude and be ready to face the uncertain challenges to build a safer tomorrow by becoming a Correctional Officer?‍♂️. 

Correctional officers have a challenging job. According to the latest updates, correctional officers earn an average salary of $60,000 every year?. 

Correctional officers help in preventing several violence and disruptions. Correctional officers face a lot of unusual challenges every day. To become a correctional officer, you need to have a strong mindset and powerful physical fitness. 

Furthermore, there are some specific requirements needed to become a correctional officer. Here is a complete guide on how to become a correctional officer, what steps you need to take, what their responsibilities are, and how much you can earn as a correctional officer?. 

Who is a Correctional Officer?

A Correctional Officer is a law enforcement professional who maintains security by keeping an eye on prisoners, culprits, or arrested individuals in jail. Correctional officers are also known as correction officers or prison guards. Correctional officers transport and escort prisoners to court hearings when needed. 

A correctional officer ensures the safety of their inmates, staff, and the general public. Their primary duty is to prevent escapes and violence. Correctional officers are highly trained to be physically fit and have the ability to handle challenging situations effectively ?.

How much can a Correctional Officer earn??

A correctional officer’s base salary ranges between $30,000 to $70,000 every year. However, several factors affect the earnings of a correctional officer. Some of these factors include education, certification, practical skills, and years of experience. 

On average, a correctional officer earns approximately around $60,000 every year. The geographical area in which a correctional officer works is also an important factor that determines their salary. 

Nonetheless, officers having advanced qualifications and adequate years of experience have the opportunity of earning a slightly higher salary than other officers?. 

How to Become a Correctional Officer (Tips)

A correctional officer is appointed only if they match the eligible criteria. To become a correctional officer, you need to have passion and commitment toward your goal. Apart from that, becoming a correctional officer in the USA involves a series of steps and requirements. 

Consider these essential steps toward having a steady journey to becoming a correctional officer?. 

Minimum Age Criteria and Educational Requirements

The basic eligible criteria to become a correctional officer is to have at least a minimum age of 18 to 21 years. The criteria also include being a U.S. citizen or legal resident.

Some agencies also demand additional requirements that include a college degree or a higher diploma. It is better if you consider pursuing a degree in criminal justice, law enforcement, or a related field. 

However, educational requirements are not mandatory to become a correctional officer. Having a degree can enhance your qualifications and stand your chance of getting multiple opportunities✅. 

Maintaining a Solid Physical Fitness

The majority of the duties that correctional officers are assigned consist of physical movements. To perform these duties more efficiently, correctional officers are required to maintain a solid physique. To become a correctional officer, you need to undergo a lot of body training to be physically fit.

Begin training consistently to build your strength, endurance, and agility. Maintain a regular exercise routine and stay in good shape. Get physically fit, and prepare yourself for fitness tests and sometimes drug tests too. 

Being consistent in your fitness routine and a sharp commitment to staying in shape will help you succeed in the challenging and rewarding role of a correctional officer✅. 

Obtaining Relevant Certifications

The field has got much more competitive to stand out from the competition, and you may obtain relevant certifications to enhance your qualifications. Certifications may vary depending from agency to agency; however, considering certifications such as the 

CPR and First Aid Certification, Firearms training certification, Self-training certification, Driving certification, etc., can be beneficial in your journey to becoming a correctional officer. 

Some agencies may provide on-the-job training for certain certifications, while others may expect you to obtain certifications alone before applying✅. 

Gaining Sufficient On Field Training

Gaining practical experience is crucial to becoming a successful correctional officer. On-field training can prepare you for the challenges and responsibilities of working in a correctional facility. There are many workshops and training programs conducted to gain practical experience. 

Take mentorship from experienced officers and supervisors to understand their exposure to handling different situations. You may come across opportunities wherein you will be trained to handle emergency procedures, legal considerations, and self-defense techniques. 

Gaining experience under specialized officers will help you in continuous learning and will contribute to your success and effectiveness in this rewarding career✅.

Responsibilities of a Correctional Officer

A correctional officer often has a busy schedule. However, have you ever wondered what keeps them so busy? A correctional officer has multiple responsibilities to keep an eye on. 

To know about what they do actively throughout the day, here is a detailed list of responsibilities they follow in their everyday schedule?. 

Ensuring the Security and Safety of the Correctional Facility 

Correctional officers are responsible for giving priority to ensuring the security and safety of the facility. To assure complete security and safety, they take steps such as staying alert at all times. 

Officers constantly monitor the inmate’s behavior and actions to detect any signs of potential dangers or threats. They conduct proper screening procedures and identification checks for every visitor, contractor, and staff to prevent dangers. 

Officers facilitate teamwork to maintain security and safety in the facility. Officers conduct patrolling to inspect the facility and respond quickly to any unusual incidents so that they are ready to take preventive measures to attain maximum safety and security✅. 

Supervising Inmates To Ensure They Follow Facility Rules and Regulations 

It is one of the crucial responsibilities of a correctional officer to supervise inmates to ensure they follow the facility’s rules and regulations. Officers regularly observe and monitor inmate activities, paying attention to any possible rule violations or suspicious behavior. 

They maintain transparency with inmates by communicating the rules and consequences of breaking the rules. 

Officers keep an eye on inmates and give them an initial warning if they are involved in any suspicious activity. In case the inmates fail to understand, officers are responsible for staying patient and taking control of such fiery situations. 

Officers thus develop conflict resolution skills to handle disagreements or disputes among inmates if they fail to follow the rules and regulations✅. 

Conducting Cell Searching

Correctional officers are responsible for taking approval from a higher authority or supervisor to conduct cell searches. It is their responsibility to have proper authorization to conduct a cell search. Officers conduct cell searches with a team of officers. Working in pairs or small groups enhances safety and provides additional support. 

Officers are required to stay equipped with personal protective equipment, such as gloves, to minimize exposure to potential hazards before entering a cell. They conduct a comprehensive search of all areas within the cell, including the bed, ceiling, walls, floor, personal belongings, etc. 

Officers are responsible for announcing the intention to conduct a cell search to the inmates, ensuring they are aware of the process. Inmates are required to cooperate during the process. Officers use a systematic technique during the search so that no area is overlooked. 

After completing the search, officers ensure that the cell is evacuated in a safe and orderly condition. Officers are required to maintain a balance, maintaining security and respecting inmates’ rights while conducting cell searches✅. 

Enforcing Facility Rules and Regulations When Inmates Violate Rules

Officers have the power to enforce facility rules and regulations when inmates violate rules to maintain order and safety within the correctional facility. Officers need to be careful while enforcing rules. 

They are responsible for maintaining a respectful tone to assert their authority without resorting to unnecessary aggression. By keeping the facility policies and procedures, they enforce consequences for rule violations.

 Officers often keep detailed records of the rule violation, including the date, time, location, and any actions taken in response. At times, when the cases get more severe, they involve the higher authority or supervisor to handle the situation appropriately. 

Whatever the situation is, officers are responsible for respecting inmates and avoiding using unreasonable force or humiliation. Overall, they need to prioritize the safety of themselves, the staff, inmates, and other members while conducting enforcement actions✅. 

Providing Transportation and Escorting To Inmates

One of the most crucial responsibilities of a correctional officer is to provide transportation and escort inmates, and ensure their safety while onboarding to various destinations. These destinations may include going to court hearings, medical appointments, or other correctional facilities. 

During these operations, officers are responsible for maintaining rigorous security measures to prevent any potential escape attempts or disruptions. 

Officers need to maximize safety is paramount when transporting and escorting inmates. Officers understand their inmate’s risk levels and behavior history to understand their psychology. Officers need to make proper use of handcuffs, waist chains, and leg irons, if necessary, to maintain control and prevent any attempts to harm themselves or others. 

While transporting inmates, correctional officers need to be vigilant and alert to any signs of potential issues or security threats to identify unusual or suspicious activities✅. 

Top Schools in the World To Become A Correctional Officer

To become a correctional officer, you need to undergo relevant training and certification programs. However, to build a solid foundation to become a correctional officer, you need to pursue a degree program in criminal justice or law enforcement-related programs. 

Consider attending such programs from the top schools in the world to gain immense knowledge and skills related to the field?. 

The Liberty University 

Liberty University ranks among the top universities in the world. The University is located in Lynchburg, Virginia. Liberty University is well renowned for offering numerous accredited programs for aspiring candidates who want to specialize in areas such as law enforcement, criminology, etc. 

The University offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in closely related fields that can help you in becoming a correctional officer✅.

University of Miami

The University of Miami is one of the most famous universities in the world, located in Miami, Florida. The University campus is so large that it consists of nine undergraduate schools and colleges. In the year 2019, over 2000 undergraduate students enrolled in this University. 

The University offers both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice that have the power to help you excel in your career✅. 

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

John Jay College, located in New York City. It is well renowned for offering strong programs to its students in criminal justice, law enforcement, and related fields. Its curriculum offers courses in inmate management, criminal law, ethics, and other relevant topics. 

The John Jay College of Criminal Justice can provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue a career in becoming a correction officer✅. 

Where to find a Correctional Officer Job opportunity online?

The Internet has significantly benefitted millions of job seekers all around the world. Finding a job has become very easy as there is a wide range of opportunities available for job seekers. Now you can find a correctional officer job online without any hesitations or the need for physical visits to multiple companies. 

In short, the Internet has revolutionized the job search process, providing job seekers with greater convenience, accessibility, and exposure to a wide range of job opportunities. Here are a few job boards where you can find your desired job online?. 

Correctional Officer Job Boards

You can find a variety of job boards online that may offer correctional office jobs. However, to grab an opportunity to go through these job boards, you would need to follow some steps. Start by creating a strong profile that demonstrates your skills, qualifications, or experience, if any. 

Alter your search according to the type of job you are looking for, and this includes modifying the geographic area, job position, expected compensation, etc. Several recruiters regularly post hiring updates on these job boards. Stay updated every day, and look out for opportunities that match your desired job. 

Some of the popular job boards to find an opportunity online?.





Online Networks With Professionals

Online networking can help you to build connections with professionals in the field. There are numerous groups, communities, organizational groups, and association websites where you can find experienced correctional officers to help you enhance your knowledge, skills, and professional development. 

Building networks on organization groups and forums provide you with the latest news and updates related to the corrections industry, such as policy changes, new procedures, etc. Networking with experienced professionals can be a good way to find new opportunities as they have huge connections with several recruiters✅. 

Key takeaways

Consider getting sufficient on-ground training. Always prioritize the safety of your officers, inmates, and yourself. Stay updated with the facility’s policies and procedures to ensure compliance. Be aware at all times to prevent escapes, violence, or contraband entry. 

Familiarize yourself with collaborating with fellow officers and staff to maintain a secure environment. Learn coping mechanisms to manage the stress and challenges of the job. Maintain accurate reports and data to meet legal and administrative purposes✅. 

All the best for your journey?. 

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