Corrections officers have a difficult job – they work alongside criminals, which can go from calm to crazy in seconds. This is one of those dangerous jobs that can turn around and bite you if you don’t watch out.
Job description: A corrections officer (or prison guard) is responsible for maintaining order and enforcing regulations in a prison, jail or penitentiary. Corrections officers supervise prisoners who have been condemned to prison, and oversee procedures such as admittance, release, transfers and daily prison routines (meals, workshops, etc…). Corrections officers are tasked with preventing violence between inmates, escape attempts and rioting.
Work environment: Corrections officers work in prisons and jails, surrounded by potentially violent inmates. Newer prisons and jails are modern and air conditioned, but older ones may be cramped, hot and noisy. Corrections officers must always be on guard, as inmates may become extremely violent at any given moment, attacking with makeshift weapons or plain physical assault. This is a very difficult and stressfull environment.
Fatality rates: No reliable data could be found, however the Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that corrections officers have one of the highest rates of non fatal work related injuries – proving that prisons have a dangerous, explosive environment.
Gender: Typically, male corrections officers work in male prisons and jails, and female corrections officers work in female prisons and jails.
What makes it a dangerous job: Corrections officers are at constant risk of being attacked by inmates, at any time and by a variety of methods. Also, inmate rioting can be harmful as well.
Hours / Lifestyle: Corrections officers man the prison at all times, making this a shift based occupation. Typical shifts last 8 hours, 5 times a week, on rotating days. That being said, overtime may be requested if needed.
Pay: The average annual wage for corrections officers in 2010 was $42.8K, or $20.5 per hour.
Requirements: A high school diploma is the norm, with some agencies requiring college education or military experience.
Training: Varies by agency and state. After going through formal instruction (consisting of regulations, operations, institute rules and security procedures), there is some amount of on job training required
Career opportunities: Corrections officers can advance the ranks all the way up to prison warden.
Job opportunities: Naturally, opportunities exist in cities and areas close to prisons, jails and penitentiaries.
Job prospects: Employment growth is considered to be average, so job prospects will be available to those interested.
Further reading material:
Other dangerous security jobs:
Photo by: Rennet Stowe / flickr