Federal Corrections Worker: Job Description & Career Requirements

Read on to see what federal corrections workers do. Get the details about education and training requirements. See what the career prospects and earning potential are to decide if this career field is right for you.

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Career Definition

Federal corrections workers supervise and monitor residents of federal correctional facilities where inmates who have been convicted of a federal crime are serving out their sentences. Federal corrections workers' primary tasks may vary, but corrections officers and support staff are all expected to support the supervision and monitoring of inmates. Federal corrections workers tend to be younger, since they must receive their first appointment before age 37 according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, with rare exceptions, www.bop.gov.

Become a Federal Corrections Worker

Required Education

Federal corrections workers who are corrections officers need a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a related field, though three or more years of relevant work experience or a combination of education and job training may also be sufficient. Federal corrections workers receive on-the-job training in bureau policies and procedures, firearms, and safety procedures as required.

Required Skills

Federal corrections workers need to be level-headed in a crisis and have outstanding organization and communication skills. Federal corrections workers also need good reporting ability, the ability to follow directions, and knowledge of first aid and safety. And finally, federal corrections workers must have excellent physical health and stamina.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the employment of corrections officers, many of whom work for federal institutions, is expected to increase slower than average. The need to cut costs within the correctional system has resulted in a decline in the demand of federal corrections workers. The Federal Bureau of Prisons (www.bop.gov) offers many programs designed to enhance work-life balance for federal corrections workers, like job sharing, part time work, compressed work schedules, and flexible work schedules. The Federal Bureau of Prisons indicates that federal corrections workers' salaries vary widely depending on type of job held, but are generally competitive with most similar private-sector positions.

The BLS listed the average annual salary of all corrections officers and jailers as $43,550 in 2012, with those working in federal government averaging $53,400, and predicts that the number of jobs for corrections officers across all employers will increase 5% from 2012-2022.

Alternate Career Options

Police Officer

Police officers are responsible for upholding laws. They patrol assigned areas by foot, car, bike, or other means. They respond to emergency calls where law enforcement assistance is needed urgently, typically because a crime is underway or has been committed. Police officers make traffic stops, write tickets, serve warrants, and make arrests when necessary; they also complete incident reports and testify in court as needed. Police officers are typically high school graduates who are at least 21 years old, have a driver's license, and can pass a physical exam. Employers may also prefer candidates with some college education and knowledge of a language other than English. New hires attend a training academy and then get on-the-job training. Jobs for police officers are predicted to grow 6% from 2012-2022, according to the BLS. The agency also reports that police officers earned median pay of $55,270 in 2012.

Security Guard

A security guard is responsible for keeping an assigned site safe from crime and unwanted visitors. Security guards conduct patrols, monitor video camera footage, and stop incoming and exiting people to determine who belongs in the building and who doesn't. They may call on police or first responders as needed. Security guards may also file incident reports. In some cases, security guards carry firearms. Education requirements range from a high school diploma to a college degree in a related field. On-the-job training is typical, and most states require security guards to be registered. Armed security guards may be subject to additional regulations. Security guards can expect job growth of 12% from 2012-2022, per the BLS. The median pay of security guards was $24,020 in 2012.

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