Country Corrections Officer: Job Description & Requirements

Read on to see what being a county corrections officer entails. Get information about education and training requirements. Find out if this career is a good fit for you.

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Career Definition

County correctional officers are often civil service workers who supervise and closely monitor jail or correctional facility inmates and the facility itself. They watch over both those who are awaiting trial and those who have already been convicted and are serving their sentences. County corrections officers are often required to work night and weekend shifts. Some county correctional officers may also be members of a labor union, depending on locality.

Become a County Corrections Officer

Required Education

A high school diploma is required for a career as a county correctional officer. Some communities may also require a bachelor's degree or relevant experience, or some may take a combination of the two. County corrections officers who hold bachelor's degrees usually study criminal justice or psychology. Aspiring county correctional officers often attend a training academy where they may study firearms, established policies and procedures for correctional facility operations, and safety and first aid.

Required Skills

County correctional officers need to have good observation and communication skills. Excellent people skills are needed to defuse the often potentially dangerous situations that arise every day in correction facilities. They need to be able to follow instructions and have good physical health and stamina. Some county correctional officers may need to have a valid driver's license as well.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that the employment of corrections officers and jailers, including county corrections officers, will grow by about 5% from 2010 to 2020, slower than average when compared to all occupations. Because corrections facilities have had to cut costs in recent years, there are fewer new job opportunities; however, job turnover should create openings. The BLS published the median annual salary for all correctional officers and jailers as $39,040 in May 2012.

Alternate Career Options

Probation Officer

A probation officer works with people who have been convicted of crimes but sentenced to probation instead of prison. They work with adults or juveniles and meet with them regularly to monitor their progress toward rehabilitation, offer advice and resources as needed, and write reports that outline offenders' work toward goals. Most employers require candidates to be at least 21 years old and have at least a bachelor's degree in a related field; candidates are also often subject to oral, written, and psychological tests. Completion of a specialized training program and certification may also be required. Probation officers can expect job growth of 18% from 2010-2020, according to the BLS, and working probation officers earned median pay of $48,190 in 2012.

Police Officer

Police officers enforce laws and protect life and property through regularly assigned patrols. They may conduct traffic stops and write tickets, and respond to emergency calls for help. Police officers also arrest people suspected of committing a crime, prepare related paperwork, and testify in court as required. Employment qualifications can vary but aspiring police officers typically need to be 21 years of age or older and a high school diploma to qualify for police academy. Some departments require some college, too. Candidates usually complete physical and written testing. The BLS reported that jobs for police officers are predicted to grow 8% from 2010-2020. Police officers earned median pay of $55,270 in 2012, per the BLS.

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