Correctional Officer

Enforce prison rules to make sure inmates stay in line.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$26,000 – $67,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Correctional Officers do?

Prisoners are in prison for a reason—they aren’t very good at following the rules. They require supervision to make sure they are safe and don’t try to harm others. And the Correctional Officer is the person in charge of that. Correctional Officers see to it that prisoners do what they’re supposed to do, when they’re supposed to do it.

Prisoners aren’t in a happy place during their stay in jail, so, if you’re a Correctional Officer, don’t expect any thank you cards for what you do. But don’t feel bad. The prisoners may not appreciate it, but the rest of the population owes you gratitude for making sure they don’t escape.

Your day-to-day responsibilities vary depending on where you work. You might supervise inmates while they’re being detained until their court date. Or, you might work for a county jail, prison, or another type of detention center. You might even work at a high-security prison where the prisoners must be shackled every time they leave their cell.

Safety is clearly an issue in this job. So you consistently brush up on your self-defense skills, and follow the rule book when dealing with inmates. You might carry pepper spray or other defensive tools, and you know when and where it is appropriate to use them.

Then, of course, there’s the paperwork. You record any confrontations, medical concerns, rule-breaking, or other harmful behaviors that may appear again in the future or affect the prisoner’s confinement. This requires organization and an eye for detail.

Should I be a Correctional Officer?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Calm Under Pressure: You keep your cool when dealing with highly stressful situations.
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.

  • Also known as: Booking Officer, Certified Detention Deputy, Convict Guard, Correctional Corporal, Correctional Guard See More

    How to become a Correctional Officer

    Most Correctional Officers have no higher education and get on-the-job training. Think about earning a Certificate or Associate's degree to increase your competitiveness in the field. Chart?chd=s:9pfaaa&chl=no+college+%2857%25%29|certificate+%2838%25%29|associate%27s+%285%25%29|||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,57,57
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