Jailer: Career Profile, Occupational Outlook, and Education Prerequisites

Read about a career as a jailer. Learn about education requirements, work responsibilities, salary and job growth to see if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Corrections degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Jailer?

Jailers supervise the daily routine of inmates at prisons and correctional facilities. They maintain order, enforce rules and oversee activities designed to rehabilitate inmates. Jailers must inspect facilities for safety by checking cells for contraband, unsanitary conditions or any type of tampering. They also must search inmates and enforce regulations. At times they will assist law enforcement with investigations of those who have escaped.

The following chart gives you an overview of this career.

Education Required High school diploma
Training Short-term on-the-job training
Key Skills Negotiating abilities, conflict resolution, interpersonal skills, physical and mental stamina
Job Growth (2014-2024) 4% (for correctional officers and jailers)*
Average Salary (2015) $45,320 (for correctional officers and jailers)*

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Do as a Jailer?

The inmate population at jails and prisons are constantly changing. While new prisoners are entering into the system, others are leaving because they've completed their sentence, been sentenced to a state or federal facility, or have had their cases dropped. One of your responsibilities is to ensure that the new prisoners are smoothly integrated into the existing prison population.

An emphasis is placed on observing regulations of the jail and ensuring that no inmates attempt to assault or harm other prisoners. You may be required to check inmates and their cells to search for illegal contraband, weapons and unapproved items. Locks, windows, doors, gates and grilles are also routinely inspected for tampering. You must be on alert in this profession since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that jailers have a very high number of injuries on the job, mostly from inmate attacks or breaking up fights (www.bls.gov).

What Should I Expect from this Career?

Job opportunities for jailers are expected to grow by 4%, slower than all other occupations, due to a decrease in crime rates, shorter sentences and the high cost of operating prisons. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2015, the majority of jailers worked at state institutions and earned an average of $45,880. Those who worked for local government took home an average of $44,860, while those employed at federal facilities earned an average of $53,560.

Salaries for jailers vary significantly according to location. The BLS reports that as of 2015, Texas had the highest number of employed jailers who earned an average of $38,210 a year. California had the second largest number of working jailers, and they received average salaries of $69,040. Florida, which ranked third among states in the number of employed jailers, paid an average of $43,330 a year.

What Prerequisites Will I Need?

There is no requirement beyond a high school diploma to become a jailer. To work with federal prisons as a correctional officer, you are required to hold an undergraduate degree in criminal justice or a related field. You must also have at least three years of experience in a counseling capacity. The requirements at the state and local levels are not as stringent, and many prisons offer training based on guidelines developed by the American Correctional Institution and the American Jail Association. Some of the training may involve firearm instruction and self-defense skills. It is important that a jailer have these skills as they may often find themselves in situations where their safety is threatened.

You may also seek certification through the American Correctional Association as a corrections officer, supervisor, executive or manger of adult prisons (www.aca.org). They also offer certifications of officers of juvenile facilities. The American Jail Association offers certification as a Certified Jail Officer (CJO) or a Certified Jail Manager (CJM) (www.aja.org).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If a jailer isn't the job you see yourself having, other related career options include working as a police officer or security guard. A police officer enforces laws, collects evidence, patrols areas and prepares cases for court. A security guard patrol and protect a property through security checks while enforcing the law. These options both generally need a high school diploma.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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