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Correctional Officer

(aka: Prison Officer, Jail Guard)

Out of sight, out of mind -- that's how most Americans think of the country's prison population. But a whopping 470,000 Correctional Officers are responsible for maintaining order in the U.S. prison system, which has the highest inmate population (over 2.2 Million!) in the world.

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What do Correctional Officers do?

  • Supervise inmates, and enforce jail rules. Correctional Officers have the critical duty of maintaining order inside prison walls: what might start as a small skirmish among inmates can quickly spiral out of control.
  • Search prisoners for contraband. Safety inside jails, both that of the prison staff and of other inmates, is a priority. Correctional Officers are the first line of defense in making sure contraband stays out.
  • Prepare reports on inmate behavior. Not even Correctional Officers can escape some administrative duty. Reports are prepared to make sure that good behavior is incentivized, and bad behavior penalized.
  • Aid in the rehabilitation of inmates. Rehabilitation, after all, is one of the goals of the prison system. Correctional Officers play a key role in ensuring that inmates will stay out of prison after their release.

How much do Correctional Officers make?

Despite an often thankless work environment, Correctional Officers salaries are above-average: the median national wage of a Correctional Officer in 2012 was $39,040, with the top 10% earning over $69,600.

How do I become a Correctional Officer?

Education Requirements. All agencies require a high school diploma, and federal prison systems usually require a Bachelor's Degree. Correctional Officers must also complete coursework at a training academy, after which they are assigned to a jail facility for on-the-job training.

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