Correctional Officer and Jailer Career

correctional-officers-500Correctional officers – also referred to as jailers or detention officers – are responsible for maintaining the health and safety of prisoners and inmates. Their primary function is to enforce rules and provide supervision for inmates and visitors, so they are heavily involved in most aspects of the day to day operation.

Duties, responsibilities, and working environments vary significantly based on the type of facility that the correctional officer works in. Although correctional officers and jailers are well trained, they do operate in dangerous, unpredictable, and stressful environments.

Correctional Officer and Jailer Career Snapshot

Correctional officers and jailers may work in local, state, or federal jails and prisons. Both indoor and outdoor work is required. Typically, they work five days per week on a rotating schedule. Holidays, weekends, and overnight shifts may be required and mandatory overtime is common.

Further details on a career as a correctional officer or a jailer are listed below (statistics from the May 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics and Onet Online):


is the average yearly pay for correctional officers and jailers.


increase in employment between 2014 and 2024.


have a High school diploma or equivalent while 9% have a Post-secondary certificate.

Correctional Officer & Jailer Education

Correctional officers and jailers are required to have a high school diploma or GED, but some agencies require additional college courses or military experience. Federal prisons require a bachelor’s degree or three years of relevant experience.

Correctional Officer & Jailer Job Duties

The duties of a correctional officer or jailer may change daily, but will often include searching for contraband, settling disagreements between inmates, setting up work assignments or counseling sessions, inspecting mail, supervising visitation, and ensuring that facilities remain clean and secure. Occasionally, correctional officers may also be required to restrain inmates or transport them to court dates and medical appointments.

Correctional Officer & Jailer Salaries

According to May 2016 reports, salaries for a correctional officer range from about $28,000 per year to about $75,000 per year with a national average of $42,820. Those who are at the high end of this range typically have many years of experience and work in densely populated areas with robust economies.

Correctional Officer & Jailer Job Outlook

Although job growth is expected to be slow in this sector over the coming years, it is important to remember that many this field has a high turnover rate. This means that job openings are common and there is a consistent need for new correctional officers.

Correctional Officer and Jailer Skills & Traits

Correctional Officer & Jailer Skill Set:Required Abilities:Tools Used by Correctional Officers & Jailers:Typical Work Activities:
• Social Perceptiveness
• Speaking
• Active Listening
• Monitoring
• Oral Comprehension
• Oral Expression
• Problem Sensitivity
• Speech Clarity
• Body armour
• Flashlight
• Handguns
• Security cameras
• Getting Information
• Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
• Documenting & Recording Information
• Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others

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