Step-By-Step Guide On How To Become A Correctional Officer

how to become a correctional officer

Do you want to start a career as a correctional officer? This is a step by step guide that will help you on how to become a correctional officer today.

how to become a correctional officer

Correctional Officers: Who Are They?

Correctional officers are the ones in charge of overseeing the prisoners, carrying out the rules and safekeeping the federal, local and state prison facilities. Aspiring correctional officers need to be at 18 years of age, high school graduate and must have a no criminal record.

According to 2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, a correctional officer average annual wage is $39,010 or roughly $18.79 per hour. The career is not as in-and like others . Yet, there are still individuals who are interested in becoming one.

These are the steps on how to become a correctional officer:

1. Get a Related College Degree or Certification

All correctional officers are required to have a high school diploma but some correctional facilities may prefer officers with college degrees or related certifications.

Those who want to become a correctional officer may apply for a bachelor’s degree or associate certification in law enforcement, forensic science, police studies or any related course. The college requirement can be waived if the applicant has enough experience in the military or security and law enforcement.

2. Get a Job in a Correctional Facility

Correctional officers are usually employed by the local, federal or state correctional institutions. They must pass a background check and they must be citizens of the USA.

The background check would be rigorous as the potential candidate will be checked for criminal records, felony convictions and work history. Drug physical examination tests will also be done to make sure the officer is fit for the job.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons requires at least 3 years of experience in the military or law enforcement for candidates that don’t have college degrees and they should also be not older than 37 years old to get a job as a correctional officer.

how to become a correctional officer

3. Finish an On-the-Job Training

Newly hired correctional officers will undergo training based on the rules set by the American Correctional Association (ACA). Correctional officers are trained about safety precautions, regulations, prison policies, operations, custody procedures, and crisis management.


There is also a training on boundaries on interpersonal relations and legal restrictions. The correctional institute also provides training in self defense and firearm usage. This may include physical fitness training as well.

Training for correctional officers can take up to several weeks under supervision of a tenured officer. For newly hired federal correctional officers, it will take 200 hours of strict training within their first year as an officer. Experienced correctional officers are trained regularly as well to keep up with updates and new procedures.

Those who are trained in strategic response teams are the ones who engage prisoners in riots, disorders, hostage situations, and any other dangerous situations. These teams train in disabling armed the prisoners, handling weapons and using different tactics to protect both the prisoner and officer.

4. Complete In-Service Training Requirements

Correctional officers are expected to stay ahead and well-informed of new advancements and procedures. They are usually required to complete an in-service training from colleges, academic organizations or officer education academies.

One way to do this is to become a CCO (Certified Corrections Officer). To become a CCO, a correctional officer must pass the exam from the American Correctional Association, must have a high school diploma and must have one year experience as a correctional officer.

Being a CCO is not required to get a job in most correctional facilities, but a certification can help a lot in getting a promotion or a new job in the facility.

how to become a correctional officer

5. Hone the skills and qualities required as a correctional officer

This is the last step on how to become a correctional officer. It’s important that you improve on these skills and qualities as they will help you a lot in making this job easier for you.

  • Physical strength – officers must be strong enough to physically maneuver and overcome inmates.
  • Negotiation Skills – Officers must be able to help inmates resolve issues to avoid fights.
  • Self discipline – Officers must be able to control their emotions when faced with adverse circumstances.
  • Critical thinking skills – Officers must be quick to think on their feet on the best approach in resolving a situation.

These are the steps on how to become a correctional officer. Are you willing to grab the opportunity and become one today?

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