How Much Do Correctional Officer Make?

Table of Contents

Want to Become a Correctional Officer?

Here's The Top 3 criteria That will Result in automatic disqualification:

Drug Test Failure

Law enforcement leaders are usually looking for applicants with good moral character & failing the drug test is a big behavior flaw that can't be overlooked.

Lying on Application

Omission and/or Purposely concealing requested information, or flat out lying on your application will disqualify you from the hiring process.

Felony Arrest

There is no work around this one. If you a convicted felon the likelihood of getting hired as a correctional officer will be an uphill battle (even expunged record).

5 Things to Know Before
becoming a correctional officer?

Average Salary, Pay Scale For Jailers, Prison Guards & COs?

Here's The Top 40 Best correctional officer
salary by state*

* Pay Scale below does not include overtime pay, education, bonuses, promotion, etc.
*information is computed from data published by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in April 2018

*$75k+ per Year
New Jersey
*$74K+ Annually
*$68k+ per year
New York
*$65k+ annually
Rhode Island
*$61K+ Annually
*60K+ Annually
*59K+ Annually
*57K+ Annually
*57K+ Annually
*54K+ Annually
*$54K+ Annually
*$54K+ Annually
*$52K+ Annually
*$50k+ annually
*$50k+ annually
*49K+ Annually
*48K+ Annually
*46K+ Annually
New Hampshire
*45K+ Annually
*44K+ Annually
*$43k+ per Year
*$43K+ Annually
*$42k+ per year
*$42k+ annually
North Dakota
*$41K+ Annually
*41K+ Annually
*41K+ Annually
*38K+ Annually
*38K+ Annually
*38K+ Annually
*$37K+ Annually
*$36K+ Annually
*$36K+ Annually
south Dakota
*$35k+ annually
North Carolina
*$35k+ annually
*34K+ Annually
New Mexico
*34K+ Annually
*34K+ Annually
*33K+ Annually
*33K+ Annually

Requirements & Qualifications

Click below to search for law enforcement jobs near me. Browse jobs by city/county or zip code

Correctional Officer Average
Salary & Pay scale overview

A detailed guide on correctional officer Pay

According to the US Labor of Statistics, the annual salary of a correctional officer is $ 43,550. Officers in the top 10% earn average salaries of $69,610 while those in the lower 10% earn up to $27,000. Since many jobs are expected to open up, officers must obtain strong professional credentials, identify the most lucrative regions, and seek out the highest-paid employer. But the main factor that determines a correctional officer salary is the number of years of employment. For instance, managers and supervisors receive a higher salary after a given period of service.

Does a degree improve the salary of a correctional officer?

While a majority of correctional officer jobs require only a diploma, having a bachelor’s degree provides an added advantage. The Bureau of Prisons may require that you gain experience in social work. Other than that, you need some college credits which are satisfied with a post-graduate degree. If you want to rise to the level of a warden or supervisor, you need some skills in counseling, psychology, and behavior management.

How much do prison Guards make?

States with robust economies and large prison populations like California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island pay higher salaries. The salaries of officers escalate quickly after reaching a certain milestone. California and New York offer the most employment opportunities which stand at $37,210 and $32, 650 respectively. And because of the high salaries, the states attract professionals who are willing to work in stressful environments.

There are four employers of correctional officers in the US: the state government, local government, federal government, and private prisons. The median salaries for correctional officers working in different industries are:

  • Local government ($38,980)
  • Private prisons ($30,460)
  • State Government ($38,690)
  • Federal Government ($54,310)

The state government is the largest employer. It employs 236,800 officers who earn an average salary of $44,180. Another highest-paid employer is the local government. It has 236,000 correctional officers who earn an annual salary of $42, 650. The other high-paying employer is the local government. It has about 157,000 officers who earn an average salary of $42,650. Finally, private prisons have a small number of correctional officers who earn an annual salary of $30,460. In terms of hourly pay, New Jersey leads at $33.32 while Rhode Island offers $28.22. Any person who wishes to pursue this career is required to have physical and mental strength.

How does experience/professional affect salaries?

Before you join the service, employers look for backgrounds in law enforcement and military service. The skills acquired help to service prisoners. Thankfully, the government provides salary bonuses and employment preferences to veterans. For example, in Georgia officers receive a bonus of 2.5 to 10% of the base salary. Of course, this will depend on the time served.

The most important part of becoming a correctional officer is training. But the basic requirement is obtaining a high school diploma. If you want to work as a correctional officer at a federal level, you need a bachelor’s degree. But before you get accepted into a training program, you must pass through some training program. Apart from the physical aspect, you may be required to handle some tasks. The program may last for a couple of months. It consists of things like officer safety, self-defense, inmate handling, and physical conditioning. When correctional officers earn the necessary experience, they can advance their careers later on. Be sure to use every opportunity to learn something new – from psychological counseling to firearm training. An officer should also understand the institutional policies, security procedures, and legal restrictions.

Getting additional credentials will increase the chances of higher pay, more responsibility, and promotion. Those who focus on communication and psychology can move to the managerial section of the prison. Understanding the concept behind training will help you determine the level to pursue.

Salary changes throughout an officer’s career

While correctional officers do not have dramatic surges in salary, they enjoy significant bumps after a certain period. If you’re a first-line supervisor, your annual salary can go as high as $60,000 depending on the length of employment. Apart from that, long-serving officers get additional perks. They are also allowed to choose positions with less risk of injury. According to BLS, the salary changes are expected to be steady in the years ahead. Correctional officers like sergeants, lieutenants, and captains interested in earning a promotion may be required to advance their careers.

Earning bonuses

The easiest way to determine the compensation of correctional officers is to recognize the opportunities that can be added to the base salary. And because this turnover requires professionalism, it’s no wonder that most prisons are understaffed.

The officers may be required to work overtime. Some can earn as much as $60,000 on overtime alone. This may be in isolated cases, but that amount is fulfilling. Correctional officers earn 13 vacation days and 16 hours of personal leave. Additional time may be offered by officers with accrued years of service. Other than that, officers can receive 8 hours of birthday leave. Bonuses can also be earned through early retirement. Some departments require an officer to hold a degree. If you have problems paying for tuition fees, the employer may offer tuition plan reimbursement. Generally, officers work up to 8 hours a day. But because jail security must be provided round the clock, officers may be forced to work at night and holidays.

Youth correctional officer pay

Youth correctional officers can work in different juvenile centers, specialized work camps, and prison facilities. To start with, an officer must have strong interpersonal and communication skills. Most positions require an officer to have an undergraduate degree in fields such as criminal justice, law enforcement, social work, and psychology. And because Juvenile offenders may be violent, officers should be able to handle a variety of situations like fights and suicide attempts. They may also update offender reports and perform checks on contraband goods/illegal goods.

The bottom line

Correctional officers help to keep prisoners safe and detention facilities in order. Since the US has the largest prison facilities in the world, it has a high demand for officers. And due to the rising of inmates, the number of correctional officers is expected to rise. The salary depends on whether you’re considering a management/supervisory level or an entry-level position. On average, a correctional officer should pay an annual salary of $43,000 ($21 per hour). If you want to get the most as a correctional officer, you should relocate to an area with high demand. Also, you must maximize on our education and training.

Have you always heard that correctional officers don’t get paid enough? Or get paid too little for what they have to deal with.  Are you a little unsure on what to believe in terms of what a correctional officer really makes per year?

If you answered is yes to the above questions, then you’ll benefit from reading this article on how much corrections officers (also known as jailers, prison guards, detention officers)  typically make per year.

Have you ever heard that correctional officers don’t get paid enough? Or they get paid too little for what they have to deal with.  Are you a little unsure on what to believe in terms of what a correctional officer really makes per year?

If you answered is yes to the above questions, then you’ll benefit from reading this article on how much corrections officers (also known as jailers, prison guards, detention officers)  typically make per year.

VIDEO: What Do Corrections Officers Do?

Job Description & Duties of a correctional officer

Before discussing the average salary of a correctional officer, let’s dig into the job description of a correctional officers? By an large the job of  a correctional officer, and what they do for our community goes unnoticed, and somewhat under appreciated. I guess the reason might be that a corrections officer, in many instances are not seen often by the general public like a firemen or a police officer.

Normally jailers or prison guards work in high security conscious facilities, where the only people that see them on a daily basis are inmates. Although detention officers don’t get the credit that they deserve from the general public, they play an important role in keeping our community safe.

Corrections Officer Daily Routine & Responsibilities

A correctional officer have many responsibilities and they include but not limited to the following…

  • Monitor inmate activities from varies housing units
  • Maintain order among inmates
  • Conduct cell extractions regarding punitive reasons
  • Perform surprise cell searches for contraband
  • Conduct pat-down of suspicious inmates
  • Review incoming mail for contraband
  • Write incident reports involving inmate behavior or lack there of
  • Keeping count of inmates at all time
  • Monitor surveillance camera 24/7
  • maintain a periodic patrol either inside or outside the institution to ensure the security and integrity of the institution
  • supervise and screen inmate visitor traffic
  • Observe for signs of disorder or tension and report such observations to a higher authority
  • Maintain proper security of inmates being transported

 Average Salary & Pay Scale of a Corrections Officer

According to the Bureau of labor statistics Median annual wages of correctional officers and jailers were $44,330 in May 2018. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,140 , and the highest 10 percent earned more than $76,760.

Median annual wages were $58,010 in State government and 43,940 in local government. In 2018, the average salary for Federal correctional officers was $58,010. Federal salaries were slightly higher in areas where prevailing local pay levels were higher.

Related Articles

Pay Range of a Federal Correctional Officer Compared to a State Prison Guard

the average salary for a correctional officer working for the federal government is a lot higher than that of a jailer or a state prison guard. Usually federal level jobs pay more than private sector jobs. That’s not just limited to law enforcement, it’s the same across the board for every government jobs.

Correctional officers working for the state or county are usually paid less than that of federal CO’s. That doesn’t mean that being a corrections officer for the state or county where you live don’t pay well. You see, many CO’s have access to overtime pay that can stretch their yearly earnings by an extra 10-15k.

It’s not uncommon to see an entry level correctional officer making in the range of 60k-70k per year (20% of which is overtime pay). With a high turnover rate among correctional officers, plus the over crowding issues that plague many jails and prisons across the nation overtime is readily available for COs.

How to Become a Correctional Officer

Requirements & Qualifications One Needs to Become a Correctional Officer:

The steps to become a correctional officer is not any different from any other law enforcement job. The hiring process is a long and tedious one. Usually taking up to 3 to 6 months before you are hired.

The requirements to become a CO is as followed…

  • You must be 18 years or older (some states mandate that you be at least 21)
  • You must pass a background check
  • You must pass the drug screen test
  • Must not have been convicted of a felony
  • You must pass the civil service test
  • Must pass the oral board interview
  • Must not have been convicted of domestic violence
  • Must have a valid driver’s license
  • Must have a high school diploma (federal correctional officers are required to have a 4 year college degree)
  • Must be someone of good moral character and reputation

Browse Correctional Officer Jobs?


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Speaking Events Best Fit:

  • LEO Academy Graduations
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  • Church Conferences
  • Military Veteran Events
  • At Risk Youth Programs
  • Business Growth Events
  • Recruitment Conferences
  • AI Implementation Strategy
  • Online Marketing Events

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