How to become a Correctional Officer

To work as a correctional officer, the following may be required of you:

  1. A high school diploma or GED is the basic academic qualification for correctional officers' job positions.
  2. For those seeking to advance their careers as correctional officers, they should earn an associate's or a bachelor's degree in a field like criminal justice.
  3. Apply and get a job as a correctional officer.
  4. Some employers will require you go through a training academy and pass a written test.
  5. Some employers will require you get on-the-job training after employment as a correctional officer.
  6. You must pass a background investigation.
  7. You must pass a drug test.
  8. You need interpersonal and communication skills to work effectively as a correctional officer. Other required skills are self-defense, firearms training and training in processes for custody and security.
  9. Previous military experience can be a huge advantage in getting a job as a correctional officer due to the rigorous nature of the job.
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What skills help Correctional Officers find jobs?

  • Military Experience
  • Intake Experience
  • Law Enforcement
  • Writing Skills
  • Medication Administration
  • Commercial Driving
  • Physical Examinations
  • Sanitation
  • Security
  • Quality Control
  • Microsoft Outlook Calendar
  • Bus Driving
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Career progression for Correctional Officer

Education levels for Correctional Officers

Based on the requirements of Correctional Officer job openings on Indeed in the United States within the last three years.

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Expected salary by experience

Based on resume data from Indeed users who reported working as a Correctional Officer in the United States within the last three years.

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Common qualifications for Correctional Officers

  • Driver's License
  • CPR Certification
  • First Aid Certification
  • CDL
  • Non-CDL Class C
  • Class D
  • OC Certification
  • Passenger Endorsement
  • Firearms License
  • CDL B
  • Confined Space Certification
  • Peace Officer Certification
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Frequently asked questions

Common questions about career advices for a Correctional Officer

What skills does a correctional officer need?

Some skills that a correctional officer needs are:

  • Decision-making skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Negotiating skills
  • Discipline
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How long does it take to become a correctional officer?

After earning their high school diploma, aspiring correctional officers can complete the necessary academy training program in 6 to 12 months. Those interested in working in federal facilities are required to have completed a bachelor's degree (which takes four years) and to have completed the training program.

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How can correctional officers advance their careers?

Correctional officers interested in advancing their careers should pursue further studies or complete a bachelor's degree and apply for a promotion to become a senior correctional officer or a supervisor. Those looking to advance their careers in federal prisons may require a master's degree or even a PhD.

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Can aspiring correctional officers complete their studies online?

Are correctional officers required to pass an exam?

Is it possible to become a correctional officer without experience?

What degrees are recommended for a correctional officer?