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County Jailer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

County jailers, also known as correctional officers, monitor prisoners that are being held at a county's correctional center for a variety of reasons. A career in this field typically requires a high school diploma, although some jails may require college credits. Other requirements can include a physical and mental exam, as well as a clean criminal background.

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Job Description of a County Jailer

A county jailer's responsibility is to watch over individuals who have been arrested and incarcerated. Typically, these individuals are either awaiting trail, participating in a trial or have been sentenced to spend short amount of time in jail. In addition to providing inmate surveillance, jailers may also transport inmates to court, perform general duties around the facility, monitor jail visitors and maintain prisoner paperwork.

Job Duties of a County Jailer

The duties performed by county jailers can vary significantly based on the size of the institution. Jailers in large county jails located in metropolitan areas often have specific daily tasks, such as monitoring inmates in a jail block or transporting prisoners to court. In smaller jails, they often perform multiple tasks due to limited staff and budgets.

Job duties of jailers typically include inmate processing, maintaining order in the jail and invoke disciplinary measures when necessary. In addition, a county jailer may also perform cell searches for drugs and other prohibited items, inspect the facility for cleanliness and stand guard during exercise periods.

County jailers that work in direct contact with inmates may not be able to carry a weapon. If they need assistance, jailers are often equipped with a radio. Jailers assigned to monitor criminals in solitary confinement often do so by close circuit television. They may also escort prisoners between the courtroom and the correctional facility while maintaining prisoner security and protecting the general public.

Salary and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of all correctional officers could increase by five percent from 2012 to 2022. The BLS doesn't break the data down by type of facility, however. Its May 2013 salary report showed that $39,550 was the median salary for correctional officers and jailers.

Requirements to Become a County Jailer

Individuals interested in a career as a county jailer or corrections officer usually need a high school diploma or GED, although some states or counties may require college credits or a degree. However, those who have served in the military or have previously worked in the criminal justice system may be able to substitute their experience for educational requirements.

Job candidates usually need to pass a criminal background check, a physical fitness test and a drug test, as well as meet age and citizenship requirements. Some facilities also require psychological testing to determine if a candidate can perform in a high-pressure and dangerous environment.

Some localities and jails require job applicants to possess a college degree. There are associate's and bachelor's degrees in criminal justice with a concentration in corrections. Coursework in these programs may include penology, corrections and the law, juvenile crimes and crime theory. Some programs offer an internship option at a local correctional institution.

On-the-job training in areas such as firearms, self-defense, and interpersonal skills is typically required for jailers, but this may vary depend on the agency. Some areas require jailers to attend a training academy to learn these skills. Most new jailers work under the direct supervision of an experience jailer for a few weeks or months before they are deemed ready to handle situations on their own.

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