How Much Do Correctional Officers Make?

Correctional officers are primarily responsible for overseeing prison inmates. Read on to learn more about how you can work as a correctional officer and what factors influence how much you can expect to make. Schools offering Corrections degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description

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 in this position, 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.

Salary Overview

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), correctional officers and jailers earned a mean hourly wage of $20.94 as of May 2012 (www.bls.gov). This translates into mean annual earnings of $43,550. The median salary at that time was $39,040 annually. The highest 10% of earners commanded yearly salaries of $69,610 or more, and the lowest 10% of earners commanded salaries of $27,000 or less.

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 $60,970 as of May 2012, according to the BLS.

Salary by Employer

According to May 2012 BLS figures, correctional officers and jailers employed by the federal executive branch reported the highest salaries, with average earnings of around $25.67 an hour, or about $53,400 a year. State government paid an hourly average wage of $21.24, which totaled $44,180 a year. Local government had the third highest average wage of $20.50 an hour, which equaled $42,650 a year.

While state and local government had the highest employment levels, the facilities support services industry also employed many of these professionals. This industry's mean wage was $17.65 an hour, which was $36,710 annually.

Salary by Location

The BLS reported in May 2012 that Texas, California, New York, Florida and Pennsylvania had high correctional officer and jailer employment levels. Workers in the states made average wages of $34,720, $66,930, $61,140, $41,090 and $46,400, respectively. In addition, New York and California were included in the top five states for high wages. Other states with high average pay included New Jersey ($69,310), Massachusetts ($60,700) and Rhode Island ($58,690). Those employed in states that included Indiana, New Mexico, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri and North Carolina made lower average salaries of $26,210-$32,570.

Salary by Years of Experience

According to January 2014 data from PayScale.com, correctional officers and jailers made $28,225-$35,819 if they had less than a year of work experience. With 1-4 years of experience, they made $24,658-$43,475. Salaries continue to rise to $26,028-$51,377 with 5-9 years of experience.

Job Outlook

The BLS reports that job growth for correctional officers is expected to be slow. Overall employment of five percent is expected from 2012 to 2022. 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.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:

Popular Schools

  • DeVry University

    DeVry University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at DeVry University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online and Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • Anywhere: Online Campus
    • Arizona: Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix
    • California: Alhambra, Anaheim, Bakersfield, Colton, Daly City, Elk Grove, Fremont, Fresno, Long Beach, Oakland, Oxnard, Palmdale, Pomona, San Diego, San Jose, Sherman Oaks
    • Colorado: Colorado Springs, Greenwood Village, Westminster
    • Florida: Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Tampa
    • Georgia: Alpharetta, Atlanta, Decatur, Duluth, Stockbridge
    • Illinois: Addison, Chicago, Downers Grove, Elgin, Gurnee, Naperville, Tinley Park
    • Indiana: Indianapolis, Merrillville
    • Maryland: Bethesda
    • Michigan: Southfield
    • Minnesota: Edina
    • Missouri: Kansas City, Saint Louis
    • North Carolina: Charlotte, Morrisville
    • New Jersey: Cherry Hill, North Brunswick, Paramus
    • Nevada: Henderson
    • New York: New York, Rego Park
    • Ohio: Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Seven Hills
    • Oklahoma: Oklahoma City
    • Oregon: Portland
    • Pennsylvania: Fort Washington, King of Prussia, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh
    • Tennessee: Memphis, Nashville
    • Texas: Austin, Fort Worth, Houston, Irving, Richardson, San Antonio, Sugar Land
    • Utah: Sandy
    • Virginia: Arlington, Chesapeake, Manassas
    • Washington: Bellevue, Federal Way, Lynnwood
    • Wisconsin: Milwaukee
  • Ashford University

    Ashford University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Ashford University:

    Online Programs Available

  • University of the Southwest

    University of the Southwest responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at University of the Southwest:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Kaplan University

    Kaplan University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Kaplan University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Baker College Online

    Baker College Online responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Baker College Online:

    Online Programs Available

  • Herzing University

    Herzing University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Herzing University:

    Online Programs Available

  • University of the Rockies

    University of the Rockies responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at University of the Rockies:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Post University

    Post University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Post University:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Sanford-Brown

    Sanford-Brown responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Sanford-Brown:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Campus Locations:

    • Minnesota: Brooklyn Center
  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Brandman University

    Brandman University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Brandman University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online and Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • Anywhere: Online Campus
    • California: Fairfield, Hanford, Irvine, Monterey, Ontario, Palm Desert, Palmdale, Riverside, Roseville, Salida, San Diego, Santa Clarita, Santa Maria, Victorville, Visalia, Walnut Creek, Yuba City
    • Washington: Lacey
  • Colorado State University Global

    Colorado State University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Colorado State University Global:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Medaille College

    Medaille College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Medaille College:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    Online Programs Available

  • University of Phoenix

    University of Phoenix responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at University of Phoenix:

    Online and Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • Anywhere: Online Campus
    • Arizona: Mesa, Phoenix, Tempe, Tucson, Yuma
    • California: Bakersfield, Chula Vista, Costa Mesa, Diamond Bar, El Centro, Fairfield, Fresno, Gardena, La Palma, Lancaster, Lathrop, Murrieta, Ontario, Palm Desert, Pasadena, Sacramento, Salida, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Marcos, Visalia, Woodland Hills
    • Colorado: Colorado Springs, Lone Tree, Westminster
    • Columbia (D.C.): Washington
    • Florida: Jacksonville
    • Georgia: Columbus
    • Hawaii: Honolulu
    • Illinois: Chicago, Schaumburg
    • New Mexico: Albuquerque, Santa Teresa
    • Nevada: Henderson, Las Vegas
    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
    • Puerto Rico: Guaynabo
    • Tennessee: Chattanooga, Cordova, Nashville
    • Texas: Austin, Dallas, Houston, Killeen, San Antonio, Spring
    • Virginia: Arlington, Glen Allen, Virginia Beach