Are you great at keeping order? Are you physically fit? Can you handle difficult situations? Correctional facilities, which include federal, state and local government prisons and jails, need workers who fit these qualifications. There are a variety of jobs available in the correctional system. If you would like to enter this career, a degree in corrections provides good preparation.
Corrections officers oversee correctional facilities and the individuals detained there. As a correctional officer, your primary responsibilities will be to maintain security in the facility, account for inmates, and prevent disturbances, assaults, and escapes. To ensure security, you will inspect the facility and the prisoners for unauthorized materials, and lead prisoners through their daily schedules.
Bailiffs work in the courtrooms to maintain safety. As a bailiff, your duties might include assisting judges, guarding juries from outside contact, delivering court documents, enforcing courtroom rules, and providing overall courthouse security.
As a first-line supervisor of correctional officers, you will perform many of the duties of a correctional officer, although you will also play a managerial role. Administrative work is also involved in this line of work, including handling financial matters, probation and parole hearings, and facility upkeep.
Correctional Career Training
While a high school diploma is the minimum qualification to become a correctional officer, those who acquire college training stand a greater chance of advancing to certain positions, including supervisory ones. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), to be a correctional officer for the federal bureau of prisons you will need to earn at least a bachelor's degree in corrections or criminal justice program. Additionally, some state and local correctional facilities require their employees to have earned some college credits. Federal, state, and some local corrections departments provide training based on the guidelines of the American Correctional Association and the American Jail Association.
A degree program in corrections might include courses in criminal law, the criminal justice system, forensic science, sociology of deviance, and victimology. Corrections degree programs can usually be found in criminal justice departments of universities and community colleges. Degree programs are available online, at the associate's, bachelor's, and master's levels.
Corrections Career Opportunities
The BLS forecasts a higher-than-average employment growth for correctional officers, with an expected 16 percent increase, or 82,000 additional employees, to be added between 2006 and 2016. According to the BLS, median salaries for correctional officers were $36,970 in 2007, with the highest 10 percent earning $62,240 a year. Correctional officers employed by federal institutions enjoyed the highest mean wage. Geography also affected salaries, with California offering the highest pay for this occupation.
For bailiffs, the 2007 median salary was $36,900, with the top 10 percent earning a median of $61,230. The BLS predicts a 17 percent employment growth for bailiffs between 2006 and 2016. Employment for supervisors of correctional officers is expected to grow by 13 percent between 2006 and 2016, representing 5,000 additional jobs. Correctional officer supervisors' median salary in 2007 was $55,720, with the top 10 percent earning $82,960.