Prison Guard Certification and Certificate Program Information
Interested students can enroll in a vocational certificate program for corrections officers, also known as prison guards. Such programs generally include studies in weapons, safety and corrections. Students prepare to take credentialing exams for licensure. Graduates might find work in prisons, jails or juvenile detention centers.
Vocational Certificate in Corrections Officer
A corrections officer guards prisoners, responds to acts of disturbance or violence, inspects inmate's cells for contraband and maintains order in jails and prisons. The curriculum in a corrections officer vocational certificate program includes studies in weapons, emergency response and communications, with an emphasis on safety and self-defense. Legal studies include a survey of corrections in the United States, the U.S. Constitution and rules regarding arrests. A corrections course introduces students to the daily operations of a corrections facility, from the intake of new prisoners to preparing prisoners for release. Other areas of focus include substance abuse, juvenile offenders and methods for managing inmates who suffer from mental illness.
Applicants need to be at least 19 years old and hold a high school diploma or GED certificate. Aspiring prison guards often must meet certain physical requirements. Applicants with misdemeanor or felony convictions in the areas of perjury, domestic violence or immoral conduct won't be considered for admission.
Coursework examines personal and inmate safety, the United States justice system and order maintenance techniques. Course topics might include:
- Riot control
- Inmate resistance
- Suicide prevention
- Inmate diversity
- Interview techniques
- Officer first aid
- Firearms and weapons
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that correctional officers held over 455,000 jobs in the U.S. in 2009, with most positions being in state government (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that jobs in this profession were expected to grow by nine percent between the years 2008 and 2018. The median annual salary of a correctional officer in 2009 was $39,050.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Graduates are eligible to take credentialing exams to become licensed correctional officers in their home states. Because licensing requirements vary by state, graduates should refer to their state licensing boards for specific requirements.
Graduates with at least one year of experience working as correctional officers are eligible to take the voluntary Certified Corrections Officer or Certified Corrections Officer Juvenile exams, administered by the American Correctional Association (www.aca.org). Certified corrections officers need to complete continuing education credits in two of six areas every three years to maintain certification. They often can earn continuing education credits by participating in education courses, corrections reading groups or staff training, presenting at a conference or publishing an article on corrections.
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