The most basic requirement for employment as a correctional officer is a high school diploma or GED. Some federal facilities may require some college, equivalent military or law enforcement experience. The first step is to secure employment with a correctional facility. You are then sent to a training academy to finish up with on-the-job training.
- Find employment at a correctional facility
Federal and state prisons and state and local jails are the primary source of jobs for correctional officers. Other options are privately owned prisons with companies such as the Corrections Corporation of America and working as a bailiff in a court. Applicants generally must be at least 18 years old and have no felonies. Federal workers must be appointed before age 37.
- Complete academy training
The academies vary by location but generally follow the guidelines established by the American Correctional Association. Academy training includes institutional policies and regulations, security procedures, and self-defense and custody.
- Complete on-the-job training
This period may last from several weeks to several months. Federal correctional officers are required to undergo at least 200 hours of training in their first year, with 120 of that taking place at the Federal Bureau of Prisons residential training center.