What does a Correctional Officer do?

Correctional officers oversee inmates to ensure they are safe, secure, and supervised. They do so by enforcing outlined rules and regulations. This might include inspecting cells, writing incident reports, and restraining inmates. Most correctional officers are employed by county, state, or federal agencies in jails or prisons.

Correctional officers must have a high school diploma or general education degree (GED) and be of a certain age, either 18 or 21 depeding on the state. Some correctional officers also obtain an associate's degree in criminal justice in order to help with professional development. Correctional officers must be alert, decisive, and have good judgment.

What responsibilities are common for Correctional Officer jobs?
  • Book and process incoming and outgoing prisoners according to written policies and procedures
  • Write detailed and accurate incident reports
  • Patrol the interior and exterior of the facility
  • Conduct inmate and cell searches
  • Inspect visitors and packages delivered to the facility
  • Respond to crisis situations as outlined by policies and procedures
  • Oversee inmate activities including meals, classes, visitation, and recreation
  • Monitor inmates and grounds with surveillance cameras
What are the typical qualifications for Correctional Officer jobs?
  • High school diploma or general education degree (GED) required
  • Must be at least 18 or 21 years of age, depending on state
  • Must possess a valid driver's license
  • 1 year of experience in the field of corrections preferred
  • Ability to pass a background check, drug test, and physical
  • Working knowledge of the methods and procedures associated with processing prisoners
  • Familiarity with security regulations and safety procedures
  • Proven ability to react in a calm and collected manner to emergency situations
  • Ability to lift and carry up to 100 pounds
EducationBachelor's Degree
Work/Life Balance
2.5 ★
Total Pay--
Career Opportunity
3.1 ★
Avg. Experience8+ years

How much does a Correctional Officer make?

$67,720 /yr
Total Pay

Base Pay


Additional Pay


 / yr
Most Likely Range
Possible Range
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Correctional Officer Career Path

Learn how to become a Correctional Officer, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

Correctional Officer

Average Years of Experience

0 - 1
2 - 4
5 - 7
Not including years spent in education and/or training
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Correctional Officer Insights

Read what Correctional Officer professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
Mohave County SheriffMohave County Sheriff
Detention Officer
Jan 6, 2021

“This could be a great opportunity for people to jump start a career with law enforcement.”

Correctional Officer
Jun 4, 2021

“Good place to work and friendly”

HM Prison ServiceHM Prison Service
Prison Officer
Nov 7, 2020

“Colleagues are usually professional and good to work with.”

Commonwealth of MassachusettsCommonwealth of Massachusetts
Corrections Officer
Apr 17, 2022

“Good job to have and the money is good.”

Dorchester County Sheriff's Office
Jul 7, 2021

“$15k starting off not including additional raises and promotions because of their better pay scale.”

Webster County Iowa Jail Division
Correctional Officer
Sep 13, 2021

“I have a criminal Justice degree while most staff don’t have any and I was fired.”

Hamilton County, OH Courts
Probation Officer
Feb 15, 2022

“Hamilton county pay is not soo good”

State of OhioState of Ohio
Correctional Officer
Nov 15, 2020

“State Job benefits are good”

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Correctional Officer Interviews

Frequently asked questions about the roles and responsibilities of a Correctional Officer

When working as a Correctional Officer, the most common skills you will need to perform your job and for career success are 24 Hour, Responses, Tolerance, Report Writing, and English Language.

The most similar professions to Correctional Officer are:
  • Police Officer
  • Security Officer
  • Police Sergeant
  • Public Safety Officer

The most common qualifications to become a Correctional Officer include a minimum of a Bachelor's Degree and an average of 0 - 1 years of experience not including years spent in education and/or training.

Related Careers

Police Officer
13% skills overlap
Security Officer
38% skills overlap
Police Sergeant
13% skills overlap
Public Safety Officer
13% skills overlap

Correctional Officer Jobs