Career Guide: Corrections Officer

Corrections officers work in jails and prisons, overseeing prisoners and inmates while maintaining security and safety standards.

Whether in a government corrections facility or working in the private sector, corrections officers provide essential protection services. Corrections officers work in jails and prisons, overseeing prisoners and inmates while maintaining security and safety standards. Corrections officers may need to use physical force or restraint while on duty and often participate in cell searches and facility inspections. They may also prepare reports on inmate conduct.

Corrections officers can also serve as bailiffs, enforcing courtroom rules and procedures, or provide transportation for prisoners and inmates or for judges, witnesses, and jurors. With so many job opportunities, corrections officers can always find a career that suits them.

What Does a Corrections Officer Do?

Corrections officers usually work in both private and public correctional facilities, monitoring and protecting prisoners and inmates. The duties of a corrections officer vary with the security level of the institution where they work, which can be minimum, medium, or maximum security. Duties usually include regulations enforcement through both verbal communication and physical action. Corrections officers must prevent and intervene in disputes that arise between inmates, issuing penalties where appropriate.

Corrections officers must prevent and intervene in disputes that arise between inmates, issuing penalties where appropriate.

Many corrections officers also work in courtrooms, serving as bailiffs. Bailiffs provide security and protection for prisoners, fellow officers, attorneys, judges, jury members, and the public.

Corrections officers supervise prisoners in their daily activities, including during meals, recreational time, and court appearances. They may also participate in rehabilitation exercises with inmates. They also search prison facilities, cells, and visitor areas, seizing any potential contraband items, and maintain records of behavior, infractions, and other security breaches. As such, corrections officers must be detail-oriented, dedicated, and focused.

Learn More About Corrections Officer Careers

Corrections Officer Job Description: What You'll Do

The educational, physical, and skill requirements to become a corrections officer vary by position and state. To learn more, students should refer to corrections officer job descriptions like this on to gain insights into the profession.

Corrections Officer Salary and Job Growth

State and local governments employ the majority of correctional officers in the United States. Texas, California, and New York rank highest in the number of correctional officers, with California, New Jersey, and Massachusetts providing the highest salaries.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), correctional officers and bailiffs earn about $44,000 annually, while probation officers and correctional treatment specialists make around $53,000. In top paying metropolitan areas like Nassau County and Suffolk County, New York, correctional officers earn an annual mean wage exceeding $82,500.

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Corrections Officer Job Salary: What You'll Earn

Corrections officer salaries vary based on education, experience, and geographic and institutional factors. You can learn more about earning potential for corrections officers and colleges in related fields at this website.

Q&A With a Corrections Officer

Andrew Carrico

Andrew Carrico is a certified police officer and prior corrections corporal in Nebraska. He has worked in a maximum-security prison for two years and is going on three years for police and security work with an emphasis on law enforcement in private and public settings.

Take the Next Step

If you are interested in pursuing a degree in corrections or criminal justice, the resources below provide you with essential information on programs and available corrections officer careers. Finding the best fit for your personal and professional interests requires full exploration of the numerous opportunities the field has to offer.

Explore Degrees in Corrections

Earning a bachelor's degree in corrections provides current and aspiring correction officers with advanced knowledge and training in the field. Many programs offer specializations in juvenile corrections, leadership, and homeland security, with additional options to focus on rehabilitation services.

Explore Other Careers in Criminal Justice

With a degree in corrections or criminal justice, students gain valuable knowledge of law enforcement, the legal system, and homeland security. With a comprehensive understanding of the criminal justice field, learners can pursue corrections officer careers, including opportunities in forensics, social services, and border security.

Professional Organizations and Resources for Corrections Officers

Professional organizations for corrections officers and criminal justice professionals offer networking, continuing education, and professional development options alongside access to news and research. By joining a professional organization, corrections officers establish connections while furthering their own professional goals.

Many professional organizations provide training and mentorship programs, advocacy and job board resources, and access to conferences and online discussion forums. Additional benefits include discounts and collaboration opportunities. Below are a few example organizations.

  • American Jail Association Formed out of the merger of the National Jail Association and the National Jail Managers' Association in 1981, AJA provides trainings, networking opportunities, and collaboration opportunities to professionals working in prisons across the country. Members gain access to association publications, educational programs, and resources for all stages of their careers.
  • International Corrections and Prisons Association ICPA unites corrections and prison associations internationalls, with members in Canada, Belgium, Scotland, and the Netherlands. ICPA offers individual, public sector, and corporate memberships, providing corrections and prison professionals from around the world with access to community and research networks, events and projects, and industry publications and updates.
  • American Correctional Association As the oldest professional association for correctional workers in the United States, ACA strives to improve the criminal justice system through leadership, advocacy, and networking opportunities. Members receive access to webinars, publications, and association certifications, plus discounts, newsletters, and conference access.