Jailer Career Information: Becoming a Jailer

Individuals working inside jails and prisons are tasked with keeping track of inmates and maintaining order. They may work with youths or adults and must have training in the rules and regulations of the corrections system. Read on to learn more about the training requirements, duties, education and salary information for jailers.

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Career Overview for 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. Shifts generally last eight hours, although jailers at some facilities may work longer hours.

Duties of a Jailer

According to O*Net Online, jailers conduct prisoner counts, inspect mail, screen visitors and track prisoner activities on a daily basis (www.onetonline.org). Jailers may have to inspect prisoners' cells for prohibited items and use handcuffs or physical force to keep order.

Training 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, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that corrections officers in federal prisons must complete 120 hours of specialized training within two months of their appointment (www.bls.gov).

Education Options for a Jailer

While the 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 (www.bop.gov). 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.

Salary Information

According to the BLS, as of May 2010, most correctional officers earned between $12.52 and $32.33 per hour; however, the BLS also notes that a jailer's salary varies based on multiple factors, including his or her location. For example, corrections officers in Jefferson City, MO, earned an average of $13.71 hourly, while those in Bakersfield, CA, received $32.07 per hour in 2010.

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