Correctional officer work or what is also sometimes referred to as detention officer work can make for a very exciting and rewarding career. Officers are responsible for maintaining security, enforcing rules and supervising inmates. Correctional officer requirements can vary from state to state, but quite often include a certain and similar amount of training and work experience. With that being said let’s take a look at how to become a correctional officer.
Correctional Officer Training and Education Requirements
For this position a high school diploma or having an equivalent degree, or GED is what is required by all agencies hiring for this position. To work at the federal level, the requirements for entry are a minimum of a college bachelor’s degree, in addition to three years of full time experience in related fields such as: supervision, assistance, counseling, or a combination of these. Some local and state agencies may require college classes and credits, however, often military or law enforcement experience may be used in place of this particular requirement.
Regarding correctional officer training some of it will be acquired through a corrections officer training academy which will take place at the facility where the officer will be working. The training will be on-site and on-the-job which will get the officer up to speed and familiar with the facility and the best practices of that particular facility. This type of training may last a few weeks to several months under the supervision of an experienced correctional officer. The length of training and the components of it can vary drastically from site to site and by geographic area.
In addition to on-site job training, some local, and most state and federal corrections departments will provide correctional officer training which has been established by the American Jail Association and the American Correctional Association. Many local agencies may have access and utilize regional and state training facilities. After the completion of training at these formal training centers the officers will complete the on-site and on-job training at the facilities where they will be working. The trainings will usually include firearm, and self-defense proficiency; along with interpersonal relations, and legal restrictions, operations, security procedures, and institutional policies courses.
Federal corrections officers will need to complete two hundred hours of training in their 1st year. In addition to this formal training they will also be responsible for completing 120 hours at the residential Georgia, Glynco United States Federal Bureau of Prisons training center inside of 60 days from their appointment to the job. Even after completing this initial training, officers must attend annual trainings in order to learn about the newest procedures being implemented.
Corrections officers may also additionally be members of other special teams inside the facilities where they work. For example, an officer may also be a member of a tactical response unit. These teams are trained to respond to riots, disturbances, inmate cell moves, hostage situations and other dangerous situations. Officers will be trained and practice controlling inmates using chemical agents, along with other tactics in order to protect themselves against inmates who possess weapons, or are trying to fight off officers in other ways.
Correctional Officer Age Requirements and More
Applicants for this position should be a minimum of 18-21 years old depending; a United States citizen or a permanent alien resident. Applicants must also not have any felony convictions. Those applying to this position for the first time should also not be older than 36 years of age.
Applicants should be in stable mental and good physical condition. Candidates will need to meet certain physical requirements in which their hearing, eyesight and physical fitness levels will be tested. Often applicants will also need to pass background checks, drug screenings, and written examination. Being able to think quickly, clearly and concisely are crucial skills an officer must possess in order to maintain security and facility safety.
Correctional Officer Job Advancement
Officers with exceptional work ethics, the proper requirements and skills will be eligible for job advancement. Corrections sergeants are responsible for supervising correctional officers, or detention officers, along with coordinating their activities. Promotions for ambitious officers can lead to these sergeant positions, and also to administrative positions along with supervisor positions, and all the way up the ladder to the prison warden position. Other related jobs that corrections officers may also seek for advancement could include parole officer, probation officer, and corrections treatment specialist positions.
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