Correctional Officer and Jailer

What is a Correctional Officer or Jailer?

Correctional officers and jailers are responsible for ensuring the security of inmates in correctional facilities. These institutions have an established set of regulations that are designed to protect the inmates, the correctional officers, and others working inside the jail. The jailers, guards, and other officers employed within the facility uphold these rules, enforce all regulations, and ensure that standard daily procedures are followed.

Throughout the day, this may include guiding and supervising a number of activities, from meal time to recreational activities. The correctional officers may escort inmates to and from court hearings, move them to other jails or prison facilities, or transport them to work sites. Though their job responsibilities are primarily supervisory, jailers and correctional officers must also be prepared to enforce rules in a disciplinary manner when necessary. This may involve using physical force, handcuffs, or weapons to subdue and secure prisoners in potentially dangerous situations.

It is essential for correctional officers and jailers to have a calm demeanor and the ability to work well under pressure. This is a high-stress job and it is crucial that these professionals not rise to provocation. They must have outstanding conflict resolution skills to manage situations between multiple inmates as well as between inmates others who are visiting or interacting with them in another capacity.

Job Responsibilities

  • Conducting regular head counts to ensure all prisoners are accounted for
  • Inspecting inmate housing
  • Searching inmates’ belongings to locate dangerous or illegal items
  • Monitoring work and recreational activities
  • Maintaining detailed records of all inmate activity, particularly as it pertains to violent or dangerous instances
  • Organizing and coordinating daily schedules and activities
  • Distributing commissary items to inmates
  • Dispensing medications to prisoners as prescribed by a medical professional
  • Investigating crimes within the prison facility
  • Inspecting mail for contraband
  • Escorting prisoners both within and outside the facility
  • Assigning duties to inmates
  • Conducting sanitation and safety inspections

How Do I Become a Correctional Officer or Jailer?

The requirements for a correctional officer or jailer vary by state and jurisdiction. Most facilities maintain their own training program for employees. This is a rigorous academy-style training experience that helps prepare applicants for the rigors of this high-stress position. This training program typically lasts for a period of several months.

Many employers prefer to hire candidates with some college education. A program like the AAS Criminal Justice Studies at Bryant & Stratton College is a well-rounded option that can prepare job seekers for a position as a correctional officer or jailer. This program includes several relevant courses including Security in the 21st Century, Criminology: Exploring Criminal Behavior, and Foundations of Criminal Law & Procedure.

Along with a solid education in criminal justice, it’s also beneficial for prospective correctional officers and jailers to demonstrate strong decision-making skills, interpersonal skills, self-discipline, and physical strength. Many agencies also require jailers and correctional officers to be at least 18 or 21 years of age.

What Can I Do With My AAS Criminal Justice Studies Degree?

An AAS Criminal Justice Studies degree will prepare you for a variety of careers. These can go by many names. When you’re conducting your job search, keep an eye out for the following titles:

  • Correctional guard
  • Custodial officer
  • Penal officer
  • Jail supervisor
  • Gate watchman
  • Booking officer
  • Detention officer
  • Corrections specialist
  • Jailkeeper
  • Public safety officer

These titles all refer to positions similar or identical to those of a jailer or corrections officer.

Additional Training/Requirements

Students interested in the Criminal Justice Studies Associate Degree program must first successfully complete the Criminal Justice and Security Services Diploma. Completion of either or both programs does not guarantee a student has met all of the requirements for employment in the criminal justice field. The Bryant & Stratton College’s programs are educational programs and the college makes no representations regarding whether a particular program will qualify a graduate for employment in any specific position, is necessary for attaining any such position or whether potential employers may require additional training or education.*

Before enrolling in a program, potential students are encouraged to consult any relevant agency with which the student may wish to seek employment for a complete list of position requirements and pre- requisites. All applicants should be aware that criminal justice employers may consider numerous factors when determining eligibility or suitability for employment including but not limited to: criminal background screening, citizenship, state residency, physical and psychological health, age and military discharge information. A criminal conviction and or record of certain other conduct may prevent or hinder a graduate’s employment as a law enforcement officer or other positions in security, corrections and others depending upon the requirements in various jurisdictions.

*Virginia residents should be aware that neither program will provide the required training for entry level positions in law enforcement, corrections, armed security, certain unarmed security and other careers requiring certification, licensure, or registration with the Virginial Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). Students who complete these programs in Virginia will be required to obtain certification through DCJS- approved training facilities to meet minimum requirements for those positions.

For more insights into the criminal justice field, check out the criminal justice studies section of our blog. You’ll find valuable resources to help you plan your future education and career.

While these projections can help career-minded people evaluate potential employment fields, it is important to note that job market data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook is only intended to provide insight on occupational opportunities. It should not be construed as a guarantee of salary or job title. Neither BLS nor Bryant & Stratton College can guarantee employment in any field.

Designed to Fit Your Life

For 170 years, we’ve been meeting students where they are and helping them get ahead. From flexible class schedules to equipping students with their own personal success teams, Bryant & Stratton College is built differently to better serve the needs of students.

Take the Next Step

Online, on-campus, and remote learning options to earn a degree on your schedule.

Start Your Free Application

No application fee, because applying to college should be easy and free.

Visit A Campus

Our campuses provide the education needed to achieve your professional goals. If you’re ready to start your educational and career journey, we’re here to support you every step of the way.