Corrections Officers

Corrections Officer Outside Jail

Corrections officers guard people who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been tried, convicted, and sentenced to serve time in a penal institution. They search prisoners and their cells for weapons, drugs, and other contraband; inspect windows, doors, locks, and gates for signs of tampering; observe the conduct and behavior of inmates to prevent disturbances or escapes; and make verbal or written reports to superior officers. Corrections officers assign work to inmates and supervise their activities. They guard prisoners who are being transported between jails, courthouses, mental institutions, or other destinations, and supervise prisoners receiving visitors. When necessary, these workers use weapons or force to maintain discipline and order.

There are approximately 427,790 corrections officers employed in the United States. They are also known as jailers and prison guards. 

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Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) Jailers, Prison Guards
Duties Monitor and secure jails and prison facilities and their inmates; ensure a safe environment for inmates and workers; handle difficult, sometimes dangerous situations; search prisoners and their quarters; maintain order; transport prisoners; make regular reports, either verbal or written, to their supervisors
Salary Range $25,000 to $100,000
Work Environment Primarily Indoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Texas, California, Florida, New York, and Georgia, but opportunities may be found nationwide
Minimum Education Level
  • High School Diploma
  • Some Postsecondary Training
School Subjects
  • Government
  • Physical Education
  • Psychology
Experience One to two years of experience
Personality Traits
  • Conventional
  • Organized
  • Problem-Solving
  • Interpersonal
  • Leadership
  • Organizational
Certification or Licensing Required
Special Requirements License required in some states; must be a U.S. citizen and have no criminal record; must meet age, height, vision, and hearing requirements.
Employment Prospects Fair
Advancement Prospects Good
Outlook Little Change or More Slowly than the Average
Career Ladder
  • Head Corrections Officer, Warden
  • Corrections Sargent
  • Corrections Officer
  • Corrections Officer Trainee

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