Corrections Officers

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 432,680 corrections officers employed in the United States.

Quick Facts
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
Alternate Title(s) Jailers, Prison Guards
Salary Range $25,000 to $75,000
Employment Prospects Fair
Advancement Prospects Good
Work Environment Primarily Indoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Texas, California, New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania, but opportunities may be found nationwide
Education and Training
  • High School Diploma
  • Some Postsecondary Training
Related School Subjects
  • Government
  • Physical Education
  • Psychology
Experience One to two years of experience
  • Interpersonal
  • Leadership
  • Organizational
Personality Traits
  • Conventional
  • Organized
  • Problem-Solving
Licensure/Certification Required
Special Requirements License required in some states; must be a U.S. citizen and have no criminal record; must meet height, vision, and hearing requirements.
Career Ladder
  • Head Corrections Officer, Warden
  • Corrections Sargent
  • Corrections Officer
  • Corrections Officer Trainee

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