Correctional officers are responsible for overseeing individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been sentenced to serve time in jail or prison. Bailiffs are law enforcement officers who maintain safety and order in courtrooms.
Working in a correctional institution can be stressful and dangerous. Correctional officers and jailers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses, often resulting from confrontations with inmates. Security must be provided 24 hours a day in correctional facilities, so officers work in shifts that cover all hours of the day and night, weekends and holidays. Bailiffs work with prisoners, who may become violent.
Correctional officers go through a training academy and then are assigned to a facility for on-the-job training. Although qualifications vary by state and agency, all agencies require a high school diploma and have an age requirement. Some federal agencies also require some college education or related work experience.
The median annual wage for correctional officers and bailiffs was $40,580 in May 2015.
Employment of correctional officers and bailiffs is projected to grow 4 percent from 2014 to 2024, slower than the average for all occupations. Although state and local budget constraints and prison populations will determine how many correctional officers are necessary, employment opportunities will continue because the stress associated with the job causes many to leave the occupation each year.
Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for correctional officers and bailiffs.
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Learn more about correctional officers and bailiffs by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.