December 9, 2023

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The Pros and Cons of Being a Correctional Officer

The Pros and Cons of Being a Correctional Officer


1. Pay & Benefits

For a job that can potentially lead to a well-paying career that only requires a High School Diploma or a GED, the initial starting salary and benefits that a newly hired correctional officer receives is pretty darn good.

With a starting salary of approximately $35k, with medical, dental, vacation, paid training and more, it’s a career that’s hard to pass up.

You will most likely be employed by a federal, state, or local organization so you also will have the added incentive of a government retirement plan which typically allows for retirement after 20 years of service.

2. Job Security

Crime is a part of life and the unfortunate reality is that for most parts of the world it’s on the rise. Take that combined with the fact that the United States currently maintains the largest number of inmates worldwide; it’s easy to see why many feel as though there is great job security in being a corrections officer.

Additionally, with the increase in detention facility and prison construction throughout the country, the need to staff those new facilities with qualified and training personnel ensure that the need for correctional officers will continue to be in high demand for years to come.

3. Advancement Potential

Since the entry level educational requirements for a corrections officer are only a High School Diploma or GED, the requirements needed to advance to a higher position can be simple.

Completion of the basic training academy which most would have already have completed it they are currently employed as a CO, and completing either a two-year or four-year degree program and having 1 to 3 year of direct experience as a corrections officer based on the position you are targeting.


1. The Hours and Scheduling

As a new hire to any corrections facility at the entry level, you will most likely not have too much say so on the hours or the days you are required to work. This can be a major disadvantage to single parents or individuals who require more control over their working schedules. Most officer discover that as they complete their probationary period and increase their time on the job, that this is a situation that slowly rectifies itself in a matter of time.

2. High Stress Environment

By the very nature of the job, there is an almost unavoidable level of stress that you will encounter on a daily basis. How you deal with and cope with that stress will determine how long you last as a correctional officer. Some people aren’t able to cope with the stress, but many more are able to cope and succeed in the position.

3. Safety

Working as a correctional officer requires you to obviously work near and around prisoners and inmates that have committed various levels of offenses. Not only do you need to be on guard for your own personal safety while on duty, you are also required when the need arises to protect the lives of prisoners as well such as in the case of breaking up prison fights, riots, or any other type of disturbances.

With all things, proper training of the job and knowledge of the environment you’ll be working in is essential to your success. The cons listed above may be disheartening, but they are manageable and can be dealt with as you become more involved and seek out further information.