How Much Do Correctional Officers Make?
Do you want to be an important part of the criminal justice system? Are you interested in a challenging career that usually doesn't require a postsecondary degree? If so, read on to learn more about how you can work as a correctional officer and how much you can expect to make. Schools offering Corrections degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Correctional Officer Defined
As a correctional officer, you'll work in a jail or prison, overseeing those who have been sentenced to jail time or who are awaiting trial after being arrested. Your duties may include admitting new prisoners, supervising prisoners during their stay and releasing prisoners who have completed their sentences. You'll work to ensure that all laws, regulations and rules are followed by prisoners, other correctional officers and visitors.
In order to work as a correctional officer, you'll need a high school diploma. Some college coursework in criminal justice or a related field can be beneficial but is not likely to be required for entry-level positions. You'll probably need to pass a drug test and background check before starting work. Due to the challenging and stressful nature of working in a jail or prison, you'll also need to meet standards of both physical and mental health.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), correctional officers earned a mean hourly wage of $20.57 as of May 2010 (www.bls.gov). This translates into mean annual earnings of $42,780. As of November 2011, the median annual salary for correctional officers was $39,553, according to Salary.com. According to the BLS, the highest 10% of earners commanded yearly salaries of more than $67,250. Correctional officers employed by federal executive branch reported the highest salaries, with average earnings of around $25.55 an hour, or about $53,140 a year.
Higher salaries are available to correctional officers in supervisory or managerial roles. Such positions are available to those professionals with experience and outstanding performance. Those working in these positions earned a mean annual salary of $57,380 as of May 2008, according to the BLS.
The BLS reports that job opportunities are expected to be favorable for correctional officers. Overall employment of correctional officers is expected to grow by nine percent from 2008 to 2018. This increase can be attributed to a need to replace correctional officers who leave the field or who retire. You should be aware, however, that reductions in mandatory minimum sentencing statutes will temper the need for additional correctional officers. Increasing employment opportunities in private prison systems will offset this somewhat, resulting in the general overall increase in employment opportunities. State governments are expected to employ the greatest number of correctional officers in the coming years.
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