How to Become a Corrections Officer in 5 Steps

Explore the career requirements for correctional officers. Get the facts about salary, training requirements, job duties and employment outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Corrections degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Juvenile Corrections Officer Do?

Juvenile corrections officers supervise, counsel and guide minors serving time in a juvenile corrections facility. These officers must enforce rules, security measures and safety precautions to prevent any violence or escapes. They must aid in the rehabilitation of inmates and report their conduct. Cells must be checked for sanitation and contraband. The table below can provide more information about duties and also give you an idea about employment projections.

Training Requirements High school diploma; corrections officer training program
Key Responsibilities Enforce jail/prison rules and regulations; monitor facilities for violations, contraband and unsanitary surroundings; oversee inmate activities
Job Growth (2014-2024) 4% (for all correctional officers and bailiffs)*
Median Salary (2015) $40,580 (for all correctional officers and bailiffs)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Juvenile Corrections Officer?

As a juvenile corrections officer you'll work in a correctional facility monitoring juvenile criminals. You'll supervise the kids, guaranteeing their safety. By monitoring their actions you'll be sure they comply with rules and stay out of additional trouble while under your care.

Step 1: Research Career Duties

You'll work as a team with other correctional officers to supervise inmates. You may work with juveniles who have been sentenced or are awaiting trial. You'll use video monitoring systems to watch juveniles in different cellblocks and use radios to communicate with other officers. You may also work as a teacher, social worker or counselor to rehabilitate inmates by leading motivational groups, classes, group activities or sports teams as well as working with inmates individually.

You must keep records on the inmates so reports can be made for the courts. You'll look for contraband, forbidden items or drugs through random cell inspections. This also allows opportunities to find tampering, gang signs and possible retaliation plans.

Step 2: Obtain a High School Diploma

The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that a high school diploma is required to become a corrections officer (www.bls.gov). Some courses can prepare you for your career and future college programs, as well. Focus your studies in physical education, writing, math and foreign languages.

Step 3: Consider College

Although a college degree usually isn't necessary to become a juvenile corrections officer, taking some college classes could be helpful. Also, should you decide to work in a federal prison, the BLS says you'll need at least a bachelor's degree. So consider a degree with courses that train you in psychology, criminal justice and social work.

Step 4: Apply for a Juvenile Corrections Officer Position

Check with your state's department of justice to apply. You must be between 18-21 years old, according to the BLS. Some states may require you to take a civil service test and pass physical and mental fitness tests. You'll also undergo background checks and drug screening since you cannot be a felon.

Step 5: Complete a Training Program

Once hired, you'll have to complete a training program provided by your employer. According to the BLS, the training period lasts about 200 hours and includes instruction on prison rules and regulations, self-defense and firearms use. Some employers may also require you to take a certification examination, like the one offered by the American Correctional Association.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Alternative careers include security guards and gaming surveillance officers. These professionals protect establishments from theft and other criminal activity. A high school diploma or equivalent is necessary to enter the field.

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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