Correctional Officer Training and Schooling Requirements
Correctional officers maintain order, enforce rules and control the inmates of correctional facilities. They may also need to supervise trustees, transport inmates and respond to emergency situations. Correctional officer training usually results in a certificate or diploma. Growing prisoner populations and an increase in mandatory sentencing means increased job security for correctional officers.
Correctional Officer Training Overview
Correctional officer training is usually provided by trade schools and community colleges, but is also provided by local, state or federal departments of corrections training facilities. Programs usually culminate in a certificate, but associate's and bachelor's degrees are offered in criminal justice. Most training programs are based on American Jail Association (AJA) guidelines as well as those of the American Correctional Association (ACA). Local and state correctional facilities usually hire correctional officers and give them on-the-job training during a probationary period. The length of this probationary period varies by state.
Topics of study in correctional officer and criminal justice programs include correctional rules and regulations, institutional policies, security measures, custody procedures and defensive tactics. Individuals hoping to become part of tactical response teams within correctional facilities might take specialized courses in hostage negotiations, riot situations, forced inmate moves and firearms training. They may learn to disarm prisoners, use chemical agents appropriately and manage dangerous situations. Additional subjects may include first aid, emergency preparedness, criminal justice communications and inmate searches.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons requires a bachelor's degree for entry-level correctional officers along with three years of practical experience; it may accept a combination of the two. Most correctional agencies require some schooling, but others will accept law enforcement or military training as a substitute. Certain correctional officer certificate programs require students to complete internships in approved correctional situations. Some correctional officer and criminal justice training programs require that students be at least 19 before they graduate; some institutions have specific age requirements for new employees.
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