Correction Officer Colleges and Course Requirements
See what education and training you'll need to become a corrections officer working in a prison or jail. Find out about prerequisites for employment, including age requirements and physical fitness standards.
What You Need to Know
A corrections officer keeps control of inmates in local, state or federal correctional facilities. Regardless of the facility, you will most likely complete a training academy to learn the basic protocols of the job. You can also prepare to become a corrections officer by taking college courses in criminal justice and law enforcement principles. Because of the rigorous physical requirements of jobs in this industry, many programs have health or age prerequisites you must meet in order to enroll.
|Program Options||Correctional Intervention Strategies Certificate, Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice: Corrections/Pre-Law Specialization, Bachelor of Science in Corrections and Juvenile Justice, Master of Science in Adult, Juvenile and Community Corrections|
|Courses||Offenders in the community, offender rehabilitation strategy, perspectives on crime and delinquency, female offenders, diversity in corrections, corrections and juvenile justice administration, illicit offender networks, corrections and crime mythology|
|Training||On-the-job training is common for corrections officers. Those who work for the Federal Bureau of Prisons must complete specialized training in self-defense, firearms, policies and procedures, and physical abilities within 60 days of hiring; federal officers also complete ongoing annual training.|
Source: Federal Bureau of Prisons
What Are the Responsibilities of a Corrections Officer?
As a corrections officer, you would escort prisoners within the grounds, as well as to and from court proceedings. Other tasks you might perform include writing reports on prisoner conduct, processing prisoners, managing group activities and keeping order. The position can be stressful and sometimes dangerous. Because inmates require nonstop supervision, your schedule may include night and weekend shifts.
What Kind of Training Do I Need?
You can expect to find on-the-job training for many corrections officer positions. Some training programs are state-approved or mandated and offer college credit. In some cases, the state approves coursework, which usually includes the following:
- Physical control techniques
- First aid
You will find certificate, associate's, bachelor's and graduate degree programs in corrections. College coursework may help you be more competitive in the job market, and some positions, such as those in the federal government, require bachelor's degrees.
What Could I Learn?
Many programs cover corrections as a concentration within a criminal justice major. For an associate's degree program, you could learn about the law and the role of correctional institutions in the criminal justice system. Your coursework may also include instruction on working with juveniles.
In a bachelor's degree program, you can explore the role of the criminal justice system in society. At the bachelor's and master's level, you may find courses in leadership, ethics, and effect of crime on victims. At the master's level, you could have the opportunity to focus on specialized corrections issues.
What Colleges Offer Corrections Programs?
Corrections and criminal justice programs are widely available at colleges across the country. The following are just a few schools that offer a variety of degree options for positions within the criminal justice system as a corrections officer:
- American Intercontinental University (Atlanta, Houston and online): Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Criminal Justice with a specialization in corrections and case management
- San Joaquin Valley College (locations in California): Associate of Science (A.S.) in Criminal Justice: Corrections
- Eastern Kentucky University (locations in Kentucky): Bachelor's degree in corrections and juvenile justice studies; master's degree in justice, policy and leadership; certificates in correctional intervention strategies and youth services
- Park University (locations nationwide): A.S., minor, B.S. and Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration
What Are the Prerequisites?
Some programs require a minimum age of 18, while others require candidates to be 21 years or older. You would have to pass a drug test, a psychological exam and a physical fitness exam. Some states, such as Texas, will exclude you if you have a dishonorable discharge from the military. Some training programs require that you possess a handgun license and a drivers' license. A criminal conviction may exclude you from gaining acceptance to programs. Each jurisdiction sets its own rules regarding qualifications for aspiring corrections officers.