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Jailer Career Information: Becoming a Jailer

Learn how to become a jailer or corrections officer. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in the correctional field.

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Do I Want to Be a Jailer?

Jailers, also known as corrections officers, work in municipal and county jails as well as federal prisons. These professionals supervise inmates and enforce the rules of the institution. Individuals working inside jails and prisons are tasked with keeping track of inmates and maintaining order. They conduct prisoner counts, inspect mail, screen visitors and track prisoner activities on a daily basis.

These officers may work with youths or adults and must have training in the rules and regulations of the corrections system. They may have to inspect prisoners' cells for prohibited items and use handcuffs or physical force to keep order. At some facilities, they may work longer than 8-hour shifts.

Job Requirements

Jailers undergo training based on American Corrections Association and American Jail Association guidelines; however, training requirements vary depending on their assignment. For example, municipal jailers, who are members of special response teams, receive training in deploying chemical agents, disarming inmates and protecting themselves from the use of harmful items. Alternatively, corrections officers in federal prisons must complete 120 hours of specialized training within two months of their appointment.

Education Options for a Jailer

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that a high school diploma is the minimum educational requirement for a position in a jail, the Federal Bureau of Prisons notes that in order to work in a federal facility, a bachelor's degree or a combination of education and three years of full-time general experience is required. Any major may be acceptable, but a degree in criminal justice might be most beneficial. A bachelor's degree in criminal justice can be completed in four years and typically includes courses on the corrections system and law enforcement.

Certification Information

The American Correctional Association (ACA) offers a variety of professional certifications for corrections employees. Applicants must meet educational and corresponding work experience requirements. Those who do may take the ACA's certification exam to earn their credentials.

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