Correctional Officer Job Description, Skills, and Salary
Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of a correctional officer. You can use our job description template in this article to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as a correctional officer.
Who is a Correctional Officer?
Correctional officers are also called corrections officers, prison officers, or detention officers. These individuals are agents who are tasked with the responsibility of overseeing offenders who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or people who have been sentenced to serve jail time. They are prison guards who are in charge of upholding routines and enforcing rules in a jail, prison, or another type of correctional facility. They look after detainees while ensuring the security of the prisons. Depending on the size and kind of correctional facility, different correctional officers have different daily job responsibilities. The major responsibilities of correctional officials wherever they operate are to preserve safety and security. They are accountable for maintaining order and safety in a prison environment for inmates, visitors, and staff.
Correctional officers investigate suspicious conduct, rule violations, and strange behaviours while supervising offenders in specified locations. It is essential to uphold security and order, and officers must safeguard the safety of the prisoners. Correctional officers regularly check prisoners and visitors for the presence of hazardous materials, examine prisoner cells for contraband, and conduct periodic head counts to ensure that every prisoner is present. A correctional officer supervises inmate mobility and keeps track of all jail activities, as well as inmate rosters and housing assignment boards. You might encounter duties like booking and fingerprinting new convicts as a correctional officer. Reporting incidents like damage to jail property or any issues with inmates that occur during your shift is your responsibility. Also, you are required to submit regular oral and written reports on both your job performance and the general prisoner population.
As a correctional officer, you would have to regularly check people entering the facility, including visitors and convicts. Patrolling the perimeter of the jail, checking door locks, monitoring inmate leisure activities, and publicly enforcing laws are some additional regular job responsibilities. You may carry out physical security inspections and manage inmate visitors during a designated shift. Because safety must always be maintained, you’ll react to crises and diffuse them as soon as you can. In the event of violent acts or situations, having the physical ability to protect yourself is essential. Through clear communication and the use of progressive consequences, which include penalties like privilege loss, correctional officers enforce laws.
Correctional officers watch over convicts’ daily activities to make sure they follow the rules. They must also constantly monitor everyone’s whereabouts. Prisoners are also escorted by officers between the facility and places like courts, hospitals, and other locations. Facilities are periodically inspected by correctional officers. They search the rooms, including the cells, for contraband, signs of security breaches, filth, and other indications of rule violations. Any prisoner who disobeys the rules must be reported by the correctional officers. When a crime occurs inside their facility or an inmate escapes, they assist law enforcement with the investigation and hunt for the escapee. Correctional Officers are in charge of documenting inmate behaviour and anything else of significance that happened during their shift by writing reports and filling out daily logs. You must have great observational skills to succeed as a prison officer. Good candidates for this job will be able to speak with authority without being unduly aggressive.
Correctional Officer Job Description
Below are the correctional officer job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write a job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.
The duties and responsibilities of a correctional officer include the following:
- Observe and uphold all rules and regulations in the prison.
- Patrol the area and check the cells of the inmates.
- Maintain security by resolving inter-inmate conflicts, and avoiding disruptions, attacks, and escapes.
- Control mealtimes, restroom usage, work hours, and leisure pursuits.
- Screen visitors before leading them around the building.
- Aid in counselling and recovery efforts.
- Help to resolve conflicts when they arise.
- Keep records of inmate behaviour.
- Keep the facility in order by enforcing rules and regulations, keeping an eye on inmates’ activities, and responding to emergencies.
- Patrol buildings and grounds to provide security help to thwart break-ins and other attempts at illicit behaviour.
- Monitor inmates who have been ordered to serve their time at the facility till their release.
- Attempt to resolve disputes among prisoners and react to crises like fights, riots, or suicide attempts.
- Conduct searches of prisoners, including strip searches, pat-downs, and the use of instruments for detecting drugs, such as metal detectors or drug dogs.
- Consider the needs and behaviour of incoming inmates during interviews and background checks when placing them in acceptable living arrangements.
- Help case managers with the provision of educational programs, recreational activities, and drug abuse therapy to prisoners.
- Prepare reports on the facility’s daily operations, including staff observations and inmate interviews.
- Ensure the facility’s constant safety and security.
- Make regular rounds to make sure that everyone is accounted for and that the facility is secure.
- Ensure to be always prompt and effective in your emergency response.
- Monitor inmate activities, including food, entertainment, chores, and visitors.
- Search the prisoner’s living space and belongings regularly for contraband.
- Enforce the laws and guidelines that govern prisoner conduct.
- Create reports describing occurrences and lawbreaking.
- Investigate any issues or grievances filed by prisoners.
- Keep things in check while inmates are involved in court cases, transportation, and other events.
- Assist prisoners with getting to and from holding cells, visitor areas, and doctor’s appointments.
- Operate security tools such as metal detectors, handheld scanners, X-ray machines, and electronic surveillance equipment
- Inspect visitors and incoming inmates to prevent the introduction of contraband into the prison.
- Check inmates’ living spaces and other areas for contraband, including narcotics and weapons.
- Look for contraband among the prisoners and the facilities.
- Examine the mail sent and received by inmates.
- Participate in the therapeutic processes of released inmates by arranging for work, counselling, and educational possibilities.
- A high school diploma or equivalent is required.
- Previous experience as a correctional officer or a similar role.
- Experience in military service, law enforcement, or security is advantageous.
- Good communication and interpersonal skills.
- Physical stamina and strength are required.
- Must be able to act calmly and swiftly under pressure.
- Great awareness and observational skills.
- Communication and Interpersonal skills: Communication skill is an essential skill for the position of correctional officer. Correctional officers would communicate with prisoners and other law enforcement personnel using communication skills. These skills are also used to create reports and complete paperwork. Effective communication with convicts and other staff members is a skill that the right officers must possess. You need to be able to maintain composure under pressure given that you will be working in a demanding setting. Additionally, you should be able to listen to others’ problems and offer constructive counsel or feedback. It’s crucial to have the ability to talk loudly enough for everyone to hear you when you need to offer directions to sizable crowds of people. Because they frequently work in partnerships with other law enforcement personnel, correctional officers must possess great interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills include attentive listening, empathy, and concern for others, as well as reliability and trustworthiness. Working with prisoners also requires interpersonal abilities including kindness, patience, and boldness.
- Leadership skills: Another essential quality for a correctional officer to possess is leadership skills. This is because these officers are in charge of keeping a watchful eye on the prisoners and making sure everyone working in the correctional system is safe. This ability is also used when a correctional officer is in charge of watching over prisoners while they perform tasks or activities. They might need to define positions, allocate tasks, and motivate their team to successfully execute their task. Leadership skills might include capacities like the ability to provide constructive criticism, inspire people, and maintain composure under pressure.
- Problem-solving skills: Correctional officers must have strong problem-solving skills because they regularly have to come up with solutions to a variety of issues. You can recognize problems, weigh alternative solutions, and put the best one into practice using these skills. For instance, a correctional officer with good problem-solving abilities can spot the issue, determine the best method to de-escalate the situation, and protect both the safety of the inmate and themselves if the inmate is experiencing a mental health episode.
- Defensive tactics: Correctional officers need to be knowledgeable about defensive tactics. These are the skills and methods used when facing a threat. These include mastering self-defence tactics, knowing how to respond in an emergency, and learning how to defuse difficult situations without resorting to physical action. Knowing defensive strategies will lessen the likelihood that you will need to take action against prisoners while working as a correctional officer and assist secure your safety while doing so.
- Physical fitness: For correctional officials, being physically fit is essential because it enables them to carry out their tasks efficiently. Correctional officials could have to chase after prisoners, restrain prisoners, and carry out other strenuous duties.
- Report writing skills: Correctional officers often compile incident reports that they present to their managers using report writing skills. These records describe the facts surrounding a situation and may contain information on any parties involved, the steps followed by personnel, and the findings of any investigations. Writing reports aids correctional staff in keeping track of details about prisoners, such as medical information or disciplinary actions.
- Technical skills: The capacity to use tools and technology is known as a technical skill. Utilizing computers, software, security systems, and other technology is part of many of a correctional officer’s responsibilities. Strong technical skills can make you more productive at work and speed up task completion.
- Firearms safety skills: Given that they might be obliged to carry a firearm while doing their duties, correctional officials should be proficient in firearm safety. This can involve understanding the correct manner to handle, store, and utilize firearms in emergencies. Knowing when to draw your firearm and how to defuse potentially dangerous situations without using force are equally essential aspects of firearm safety.
- Stress management skills: Because they frequently operate in demanding conditions, correctional officers must be able to control their stress. When confronted with difficult job situations, correctional officers can maintain their composure and serenity by using stress management skills. They will be better able to think clearly and alleviate difficult situations as a result. Moreover, this skill enables people to take time off from work to unwind and reenergize before reporting for duty.
How to Become a Correctional Officer
Step 1. Obtain relevant education
Most positions as correctional officers require at least a high school diploma. Some employers prefer applicants who have taken some college-level courses. You can get ready for a career in correctional services by taking classes in criminal justice, psychology, sociology, law, and ethics. If you don’t have a high school diploma, consider enrolling in classes like advanced placement courses or vocational training that can help you get ready for college. You can learn useful skills and information from these classes that you can apply to your employment as a correctional officer.
Step 2. Acquire training and experience
The majority of states mandate that within a few months of employment, newly recruited correctional officers undergo a training program. This training, which normally ranges between 30 and 90 days, covers first aid, self-defence, the use of firearms, emergency response, and moral principles. Some people who work in correctional facilities have degrees in criminal justice or law enforcement. With one of these degrees, you might be able to forego some training and start working right away in a correctional facility. Find out whether there are any specific criteria for becoming a correctional officer by researching the laws in your state.
Step 3. Acquire certifications and licenses
In the majority of states, carrying a weapon while on duty requires a license for correctional officials. Before taking the shooting test, candidates must complete a firearms safety course. The written licensing exam and the shooting test are typically given at the same time. Some states have particular licensing requirements for firearms, such as mandating additional pistol use training for prison officials who would be required to carry a weapon while performing their job. A valid driver’s license is a must for carrying out your job duties. Having dependable transportation is essential because the correctional officer profession may need you to travel to and from work locations. Additionally, you might be needed to carry inmates to or from prisons or to court, which calls for a certain license.
Where to Work as a Correctional Officer
Correctional officers work in prisons, jails, reformatories, penitentiaries, juvenile detention centres, courthouses, or with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. They typically work in shifts, which may include nights, weekends, and during holidays. They may be required to work extra time, especially during the time of emergencies. They may often be exposed to demanding, stressful and hazardous situations. In some facilities, correctional officers are required to live on the premises for quick access.
Correctional Officer Salary Scale
Correctional officers’ salary scale typically varies depending on some factors such as work location, level of education, years of experience, additional relevant skills, and qualifications. The base salary for correctional officers ranges from $43,121 to $53,742 with the average base salary of $48,424 per year. The average correctional officer salary in the United Kingdom is £25,653 per year. Entry-level positions begin at £23,529, while experienced workers can make up to £30,702 per year. In Canada, correctional officers’ salary scale is between $50,833 and $68,338, while $53,245 is the average salary. A person working as a correctional officer in Nigeria typically earns around 1,800,000 NGN per year. The pay ranges from 960,000 NGN to 2,650,000 NGN (highest).