How Much Does a Correctional Officer Make

Have you always heard that correctional officers don’t get paid enough? Or get paid too little for what they have to deal with.  Are you a little unsure on what to believe in terms of what a correctional officer really makes per year?

If you answered is yes to the above questions, then you’ll benefit from reading this article on how much corrections officers (also known as jailers, prison guards, detention officers)  typically make per year.

Job Description & Duties of a correctional officer

Before discussing the average salary of a correctional officer, let’s dig into the job description of a correctional officers? By an large the job of  a correctional officer, and what they do for our community goes unnoticed, and somewhat under appreciated. I guess the reason might be that a corrections officer, in many instances are not seen often by the general public like a firemen or a police officer.

Normally jailers or prison guards work in high security conscious facilities, where the only people that see them on a daily basis are inmates. Although detention officers don’t get the credit that they deserve from the general public, they play an important role in keeping our community safe.

What Do Correctional Officers Do?

A correctional officer have many responsibilities and they include but not limited to the following…

  • Monitor inmate activities from varies housing units
  • Maintain order among inmates
  • Conduct cell extractions regarding punitive reasons
  • Perform surprise cell searches for contraband
  • Conduct pat-down of suspicious inmates
  • Review incoming mail for contraband
  • Write incident reports involving inmate behavior or lack there of
  • Keeping count of inmates at all time
  • Monitor surveillance camera 24/7
  • maintain a periodic patrol either inside or outside the institution to ensure the security and integrity of the institution
  • supervise and screen inmate visitor traffic
  • Observe for signs of disorder or tension and report such observations to a higher authority
  • Maintain proper security of inmates being transported

 Average Salary & Pay Scale of a Corrections Officer

According to the Bureau of labor statistics Median annual wages of correctional officers and jailers were $38,380 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $29,660 and $51,000. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,300, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $64,110.

Median annual wages of first-line supervisors/managers of correctional officers were $57,380 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $41,740 and $73,630. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,300, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $86,970. Median annual wages were $57,050 in State government and $57,300 in local government.

In March 2009, the average salary for Federal correctional officers was $53,459. Federal salaries were slightly higher in areas where prevailing local pay levels were higher.

Pay Range of a Federal Correctional Officer Compared to a State Prison Guard

the average salary for a correctional officer working for the federal government is a lot higher than that of a jailer or a state prison guard. Usually federal level jobs pay more than private sector jobs. That’s not just limited to law enforcement, it’s the same across the board for every government jobs.

Correctional officers working for the state or county are usually paid less than that of federal CO’s. That doesn’t mean that being a corrections officer for the state or county in which you live don’t pay well. You see, many CO’s have access to overtime pay that can stretch their yearly earnings by an extra 10-15k.

It’s not uncommon to see an entry level correctional officer making in the range of 60k-70k per year (20% of which is overtime pay). With the hire turnover rate among correctional officers, plus the over crowding issues that plague many jails and prisons across the nation overtime is readily available to CO’s on a daily basis.

Requirements & Qualifications One Needs to Become a Correctional Officer:

The steps to become a correctional officer is not any different from any other law enforcement job. The hiring process is a long and tedious one. Usually taking up to 3 to 6 months before you are hired.

The requirements to become a CO is as followed…

  • You must be 18 years or older (some states mandate that you be at least 21)
  • You must pass a background check
  • You must pass the drug screen test
  • Must not have been convicted of a felony
  • You must pass the civil service test
  • Must pass the oral board interview
  • Must not have been convicted of domestic violence
  • Must have a valid driver’s license
  • Must have a high school diploma (federal correctional officers are required to have a 4 year college degree)
  • Must be someone of good moral character and reputation