Correctional Officers

Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security > Correction Services

Projected Growth: Decline

Projected Job Openings

Some Preparation Needed

Job Description

Your job is to Guard inmates in penal or rehabilitative institutions in accordance with established regulations and procedures. May guard prisoners in transit between jail, courtroom, prison, or other point. Includes deputy sheriffs and police who spend the majority of their time guarding prisoners in correctional institutions.

Common job titles of Correctional Officers include:

Experience and Education

Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.

  • 88.75% said they needed a High School Diploma.

  • 9.48% said they needed a Post-Secondary Certificate.

Tasks & Responsibilities

Essential Tasks

    Monitor conduct of prisoners in housing unit, or during work or recreational activities, according to established policies, regulations, and procedures, to prevent escape or violence.

    Conduct head counts to ensure that each prisoner is present.

    Use nondisciplinary tools and equipment, such as a computer.

    Record information, such as prisoner identification, charges, and incidences of inmate disturbance, and keep daily logs of prisoner activities.

    Issue clothing, tools, and other authorized items to inmates.

    Guard facility entrances to screen visitors.

    Inspect mail for the presence of contraband.

    Arrange daily schedules for prisoners including library visits, work assignments, family visits, and counseling appointments.

    Search prisoners and vehicles and conduct shakedowns of cells for valuables and contraband, such as weapons or drugs.

    Settle disputes between inmates.

    Inspect conditions of locks, window bars, grills, doors, and gates at correctional facilities to ensure security and help prevent escapes.

    Counsel inmates and respond to legitimate questions, concerns, and requests.

    Provide to supervisors oral and written reports of the quality and quantity of work performed by inmates, inmate disturbances and rule violations, and unusual occurrences.

    Conduct fire, safety, and sanitation inspections.

    Serve meals, distribute commissary items, and dispense prescribed medication to prisoners.

    Assign duties to inmates, providing instructions as needed.

    Take prisoners into custody and escort to locations within and outside of facility, such as visiting room, courtroom, or airport.

    Maintain records of prisoners' identification and charges.

    Drive passenger vehicles and trucks used to transport inmates to other institutions, courtrooms, hospitals, and work sites.

    Process or book convicted individuals into prison.

    Supervise and coordinate work of other correctional service officers.

    Sponsor inmate recreational activities, such as newspapers and self-help groups.

Regular Tasks

    Use weapons, handcuffs, and physical force to maintain discipline and order among prisoners.

Occasional Tasks

    Participate in required job training.

    Investigate crimes that have occurred within an institution, or assist police in their investigations of crimes and inmates.

    Search for and recapture escapees.

What Tools and Technologies do Correctional Officers use?


Upper body armor

Tactical riot shields

Tablet computers

Surveillance cameras

Stab proof vests

Riot protection helmets

Radio frequency identification RFID devices

All Tools

Protective safety glasses

Protective gas masks

Prisoner transport belts

Personal computers

Mobile radios

Metal handcuffs

Lower body armor

Leg irons

Law enforcement shotguns

Law enforcement rifles

Law enforcement handguns

Law enforcement flashlights

Laptop computers

Hearing protection plugs

Firefighting respirators

Expandable batons

Emergency fire hoses

Emergency fire extinguishers

Electroshock weapons

Desktop computers

Data collectors

Cut resistant gloves

Air-supplying respirators


3M Electronic Monitoring

Corrections housing software

Guardian RFID

Jail management software

What Skills Do Correctional Officers Need to Have?



Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Social Perceptiveness

Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Active Listening

Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.


Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Critical Thinking

Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Reading Comprehension

Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.


Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.


Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.

Complex Problem Solving

Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.


Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.


Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.

Judgment and Decision Making

Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Active Learning

Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

Learning Strategies

Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.


Teaching others how to do something.

Service Orientation

Actively looking for ways to help people.

Time Management

Managing one's own time and the time of others.


Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Oral Comprehension

Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Oral Expression

Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Problem Sensitivity

Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

Everything Correctional Officers Should Know…


Public Safety and Security

Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.

Law and Government

Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.

English Language

Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.


Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.

Administration and Management

Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.


Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.


Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.

Computers and Electronics

Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Education and Training

Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

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