To work as a corrections officer, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or equivalent;
- be a US citizen;
- be at least 18 or 21 years old;
- pass a physical exam and background check;
- be screened for drug use;
- pass a written exam; and
- complete moderate-term, on-the-job training.
Education after high school
The Federal Bureau of Prisons requires applicants to have at least a bachelor's degree, three years of work experience, or a combination of the two. Most other employers do not require a degree.
Some employers require corrections officers to attend training at regional academies. Trainees study legal issues, self-defense, and emergency procedures. You also learn how to control prisoners and use weapons properly.
You may need at least two years of work or military training to meet the minimum experience requirement for this occupation.
Some small cities train officers on the job, rather than in an academy setting. Regardless of whether you attended an academy, you will receive additional training on the job. Training may last several weeks up to six months.
Some officers receive additional training as members of special response teams. These officers receive training in riot control, hostage relations, and other dangerous situations.
Some branches of the military train people to be law enforcement and security specialists. Training lasts from five to 12 weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training occurs on the job.