Individuals interested in overseeing the day-to-day operations of prisons or detention centers may want to consider careers in correctional facility administration. However, this line of work can be stressful and is not for everyone. Keep reading to find out if this career is for you.
Employees who work in the field of correctional facility administration use their knowledge of public security, personnel management and human behavior to ensure prisons run smoothly. As a correctional facility administrator, you may be responsible for supervising correctional officers or developing recreational and educational programs designed to reduce recidivism. You might enact policies and procedures to ensure inmates are treated properly. You could also be responsible for managing a facility's finances. Available job titles include corrections sergeant or lieutenant, corrections program administrator, recreation program supervisor and prison warden.
To work in this field, you'll need exceptional problem-solving and people skills, including the ability to resolve conflicts. You should also be able to handle high levels of stress. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that first-line supervisors of correctional officers earned an average $58,290 as of May 2010 (www.bls.gov). The middle half of employees in this occupation earned between $41,500 and $71,640 per year. The majority worked in local, state and federal facilities, though private support services organizations and psychiatric hospitals also employed correctional administrators.
You can begin your career as a correctional facility administrator by working as a correctional officer. To qualify for one of these positions, you must hold a high school diploma or GED, according to the BLS. You could also need firearms and self-defense training; however, this might be provided by the corrections facility that hires you. If you want to work for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, you'll need a bachelor's degree and related work experience.
To advance to an administrative position as a corrections sergeant, lieutenant or recreation program supervisor, you might consider pursuing an associate's or bachelor's degree in the field of criminal justice. Some programs may even be offered with a corrections administration focus. Some schools offer online correctional administration courses that can teach you management skills to advance your career. Coursework for these 2- and 4-year degree programs often includes such topics as criminal behavior, conflict mediation, civil liberties and resource allocation. An internship or capstone project could also be required.
Social work and criminology bachelor's degree programs might qualify you for advancement in the field. According to some schools, a master's degree in public administration can prepare you for a job in correctional facility administration as well. However, if you want to work as a corrections program administrator or warden, you'll usually need additional experience.