Guard inmates in penal or rehabilitative institutions in accordance with established regulations and procedures. May guard prisoners in transit between jail, courtroom, prison, or other point. Includes deputy sheriffs and police who spend the majority of their time guarding prisoners in correctional institutions.
Experience: Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.
Education: Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree. Some may require a bachelor's degree.
Training: Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers.
Correctional officers are responsible for overseeing individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been sentenced to serve time in a jail or prison.
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. Because jail and prison security must be provided 24 hours a day, officers work all hours of the day and night, weekends, and holidays.
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. Some federal agencies also require some college education or related work experience.
The median annual wage for correctional officers and jailers was $39,040 in May 2012. The median annual wage for bailiffs was $36,840 in May 2012.
Employment of correctional officers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Although budget constraints and a falling crime rate will require fewer workers, job openings will continue to become available because the dangers associated with the job cause many to leave the occupation each year.