How Do I Become a Correctional Officer?

Misty Amber Brighton
Misty Amber Brighton
Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

If you would like to become a correctional officer it can be important to have the right education, so you may want to consider taking courses in criminal justice. Finding work in other areas of law enforcement could help you gain the experience you need for this position. It is also helpful to network with others in this line of work so you will have reliable references when it is time to submit an application.

Taking courses in criminal justice can help you become a correctional officer. If possible, try to specialize in the area of corrections during your studies. Some of the courses you may want to take include psychology, theories of criminal conduct, and self-defense. An associate's degree is usually helpful when applying for work, but a bachelor's degree could be even more so, because correctional officers with a four-year college degree often earn more money than those who have only a high school diploma or associate's degree.

Gaining work experience in a field of law enforcement can help you become a correctional officer. One of the jobs that could be helpful is that of a probation officer, because you would be supervising those who have recently been released from prison. Another position that could provide practical experience is that of a community corrections officer, where you would be responsible for supervising work details assigned to do community service projects. A position monitoring individuals on house arrest might also be useful.

It can be helpful to know people who are already working as corrections officers, as this profession tends to be a very cohesive group. Talk to people you know and tell them you would like to become a correctional officer. Ask them to introduce you to individuals working in a correctional facility so you can network with them about job openings. After you get to know some of these people better, you can ask them to mention your name to the hiring manager when positions become available.

Maintaining a good reputation with your present employer can help you become a correctional officer because people who work in this field must be dependable. If you have a flawless attendance record and strong work ethic, these will be considered when you are interviewing for a job in a correctional facility. You may also need to pass a drug screening, background check, and written examination before being offered a position.

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Discussion Comments


Working as a correctional officer in North Carolina has taught me a lot. I am definitely more aware of my surroundings and also pay more attention to things that might not matter but in the long run can add up. I love my job!

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