Detention Officer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements
Detention officers work in jails, courtrooms and juvenile detention centers overseeing the safe imprisonment of inmates. They report all inappropriate activity to the warden and manage conflict between inmates. All detention officers are required to have a high school diploma and be at least 18 years old. Having a criminal justice degree or law enforcement certification may also be required.
Job Description of a Detention Officer
Detention officers work to ensure the safe confinement of prisoners in a wide variety of settings. Many detention officers work in jails, overseeing prisoners after they have been arrested and before they go to trial. Detention officers are also employed at juvenile offender centers to keep the inmates in order. The job is quite dangerous and involves a high level of risk.
The salary and job outlook of detention officers may vary depending on the institution that hires them as well as their level of experience. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for correctional officers and jailers in 2012 was $39,040 (www.bls.gov). This career field is projected by the BLS to expand at a slower-than-average pace of 5% from 2012 to 2022.
Detention Officer Job Duties
A detention officer's overall goal is the safe and smooth operation of jails and juvenile detention centers. They must monitor inmates to see that they are not causing harm to themselves or others. If fights occur, detention officers are responsible for breaking up the situation and reporting all misdemeanors to the warden. Detention officers may also be responsible for ensuring the safe transport of prisoners from pretrial detention facilities to courtrooms and standing guard while they await sentencing.
Requirements for Becoming a Detention Officer
Every state and institution has different requirements for becoming an officer. At the bare minimum, an applicant must have a high school diploma and be 18 years of age. Each state or institution offers training programs and requires applicants to pass an exam. Detention officers that work at the federal prison level are required to possess a bachelor's degree.
Every detention center requires their officers to pass a comprehensive and in-depth background check to make sure they have no criminal convictions. Most centers also have extensive physical and situational tests that an applicant must pass to prove that they are fit to work in such a dangerous setting. Along with good eyesight, hearing and physical fitness, applicants must display good decision-making skills under stressful circumstances for a warden to consider hiring them.
While an education beyond high school may not be required by all positions, detention officers can earn certificates and participate in continuing education programs to enhance their careers. Completion of college courses or degrees may result in career advancement opportunities.
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