Correctional Officers – Join The Team!
Correctional officers maintain peace and order within a prison or jail, often placing themselves in situations most people only see on television shows. Those who have chosen this career path, however, wouldn’t have it any other way. They enjoy the camaraderie of being a part of a very special team, and this close knit family knows they can rely on each team member to stand by them in all situations.
There is actually an important difference between a jail and a prison. Jails refer to the facilities where prisoners await their trials or are serving short term sentences for minor crimes, and are usually run by the counties and states. Prisons are where longer sentences are carried out for more severe crimes and are run by the state and federal governments. This is an important difference to understand when thinking of a career as a correctional officer, as the job prerequisites, salaries, and other training requirements can differ widely between federal prisons and county or local jails.
A high school diploma or other equivalency certificate is necessary to become a correctional officer in jails or prisons. The Federal Bureau of Prisons requires a bachelor’s degree or several years of providing counseling or supervision in a work place environment as a prerequisite to becoming a federal correctional officer, while state or county run facilities may require less college credits or work experience in the military or law enforcement. Each agency differs on higher education requirements. On the job training will consist of learning regulations, personal communication skills, self defense training, security procedures and firearms proficiency. Federal correctional personnel will further require over 300 hours of additional, specialized on the job training.
Other requirements in this field are a clean criminal record with no convictions, good health, and the ability to think quickly and make calm, rational decisions. Applicants are also required to be drug free and to have at least two years of stable employment prior to applying. Background checks, written exams, and health check-ups will be completed before an application is accepted.
Online training is available to either achieve a degree in Criminal Justice or other related field, to get a certificate that covers the college credits preferred by some local agencies, and to maintain continuing education requirements once hired.
Correctional officers can find work as probation officers, bailiffs, correctional counselors, and parole officers. They can even venture into the exciting world of border patrol, immigration, and US customs. There is room for advancement in this field, such as an upward move to the correctional sergeant who supervises the officers, or a promotion to warden, who manages the entire operation of the facility.
Salaries range from over $39,000 to nearly $70,00 depending on whether the agency chosen is federal, state or local. These jobs will remain in demand as current officers retire, promote, or transfer to other jobs and agencies.
This profession often requires shift work with a usual schedule of eight hour shifts; however, these hours will vary greatly from agency to agency. Overtime opportunities are generally abundant, and working for a government agency provides excellent health insurance and benefits packages.
Consider joining the team of law enforcement as a correctional officer and enjoy a career that is fast paced, rewarding, exciting, and always in demand.
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