Corrections Officer: Duties & Salary

Corrections OfficersIf you are interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement, consider a job as a corrections officer. The duties of a corrections officer including maintaining order among jailed inmates and enforcing set rules and regulations to maintain safety and security for all.

What does a corrections officer do?
Corrections officers supervise those who have been arrested for a crime and must wait for their trial date while being held in a jail, penitentiary, or reformatory institution. Corrections officers, sometimes known as detention officers, jailers, or correctional officers, work to maintain security within a prison or jail. The duties of a corrections officer are learned through on-the-job training, though some individuals do pursue degrees in criminal justice in order to be promoted to supervisor positions.

Corrections officers preserve order and safety among the inmate population by ensuring the prisoners are following the rules at all times. Corrections officers also supervise inmates as they complete their individual work assignments. As a corrections officer, you are required to provide written and oral reports to your superiors detailing the conduct of the inmates in your jurisdiction.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jails on the local level admit and process approximately 12 million people per year, with around 700,000 individuals residing within the walls of the correctional facility on any given day. At the state and federal levels, correctional facilities are in charge of an average over 1.5 million prisoners.

How much do corrections officers get paid and what kinds of corrections officer jobs can I get?
According to a 2006 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of corrections officers was $35,760. Some earn as low as $23,600 while some earn above $58,580. The salary of a corrections officer is dependent on the level of the correctional facility, with federal prisons paying the highest wages and local prisons paying the lowest. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that those in supervisory positions at correctional facilities earn a median annual salary of about $52,000.

More than half of corrections officers were hired by prisons, prison camps, and youth correctional facilities, states the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also predicts that the demand for corrections officers will increase by 16 percent by 2016. The demand is determined by both population growth and increasing incarceration rates. It is important to remember that incarceration rates are not always due to increased criminal activity, but that harsher sentencing guidelines now require more jail time for convicted individuals with fewer parole options. As a result, employment opportunities for corrections officers in both public and private correctional facilities will remain good.