How to Hire a Correctional Officer

Does your correctional institution need a correctional officer? A great correctional officer will be proactive and willing to provide a stable environment that encourages inmates to reintegrate into society.

Here are some tips to help you find great correctional officer candidates and make the right hire for your business.

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Correctional officers searching for jobs on Indeed*


job seekers that clicked on correctional officer jobs


resumes from job seekers with correctional officer experience on Indeed


correctional officer jobs that received clicks

What is the cost of hiring a correctional officer?

  • Common wage in US: $16.63 hourly
  • Typical wages range from $7.00$43.00 hourly
  • Find more information on Indeed Salary

*Indeed data (US) – Dec 2020

As of December 2020, correctional officer jobs in the US are moderately competitive compared to other job markets, with an average of 100 job seekers per correctional officer job.

Why hire a correctional officer?

Hiring a correctional officer is a crucial hire for your correctional institution. Correctional officers work to provide stability, leadership and as peaceful of an environment as possible. The right hire will know how to work under tough conditions and make the best of even the most tense situations. A good correctional officer can:

  • Control your prison population
  • Improve the safety of your facility
  • Ensure proper protocols are being met

What are the ranks of correctional officers?

When you want to hire a correctional officer, it’s important to understand the organizational structure of a typical correctional institution. Correctional officers often follow a chain of command and rank structure. Rank structures vary depending on the location and type of your correctional facility (e.g., state, private). Starting from the highest level to the lowest level, here are the common ranks of correctional officers:

  • Warden: Ensures the safety and security of the facility they run. Is in command of all correctional officers and guards, conducts investigations and ensures proper treatment of inmates. Performs administrative tasks, including budgeting, equipment purchases, policies and compliance.
  • Captain: Monitors and directs the day-to-day activities of correctional officers, and may also assist with administrative tasks.
  • Lieutenant: Ensures facility security on the ground level and oversees inmate activity, such as medical appointments and court hearings. Communicates policy changes to subordinates.
  • Sergeant: Supervises and trains correctional officer staff, coordinates inmate programs and prepares incident reports.
  • Correctional officer: Responsible for enforcing rules, escorting inmates and observing inmate activity. Being in close quarters with inmates on a regular basis, works to prevent disturbances and de-escalate conflict situations.

Where to find correctional officers

To find the right correctional officer for your facility, consider trying out a few different recruiting strategies:

  • Hire from within: Are your probationary correctional officers ready to move up the ranks? Likewise, evaluate which of your correctional officers may be ready to take on added duties to move into a senior correctional officer role.
  • Employee referrals: Your correctional officers may be able to refer fellow correctional officers they’ve come to know through their training academy or time spent at university.
  • School job fairs: Meet face to face with students enrolled in criminal justice programs at your local community college or university.
  • Post your job online: Try posting your correctional officer job on Indeed to find and attract quality correctional officer candidates.

Skills to look for in a great correctional officer

A great correctional officer candidate will have the following skills and attributes as well as work experience that reflects:

  • Physical strength and endurance
  • Self defense training
  • Enforcing rules
  • Teamwork
  • Problem solving
  • Grace under fire

Writing a correctional officer job description

A thoughtful description is important to finding qualified correctional officer candidates. An correctional officer job description should include a compelling summary of the role, a detailed list of duties and responsibilities and the required and preferred skills for the position.

When writing your correctional officer job description, consider including some or all of the following keywords to improve the visibility of your job posting. These are the most popular search terms leading to clicks on correctional officer jobs, according to Indeed data:

  • Correctional officer
  • Criminal justice
  • Corrections
  • Corrections officer
  • Detention officer
  • Government
  • Hiring immediately
  • Jail
  • Jailer

Interviewing correctional officer candidates

Strong candidates for correctional officer positions will be confident answering questions regarding:

  • How they’ve handled tense situations
  • Past experiences neutralizing violent outbreaks
  • Creating proactive strategies for inmate management

Need help coming up with interview questions? See our list of correctional officer interview questions for examples (with sample answers).

FAQs about how to hire a correctional officer

Why are correctional officers difficult to hire and retain?

Hiring and retaining correctional officers can be difficult because they require specific training and skills, they risk their safety on a daily basis and are exposed to dangerous situations which can lead to anxiety, stress and depression.

Is a correctional officer a cop?

While a correctional officer may perform similar work as cops or police officers, they differ in that police officers are responsible for guarding the public while correctional officers enforce rules and monitor inmates in courts and jails.

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    Last updated: Apr 21, 2021