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Correctional Officer or Jailer

Life As a Correctional Officer or Jailer

Career Description Guard inmates in penal or rehabilitative institutions in accordance with established regulations and procedures. May guard prisoners in transit between jail, courtroom, prison, or other point. Includes deputy sheriffs and police who spend the majority of their time guarding prisoners in correctional institutions.

Daily Life Of a Correctional Officer or Jailer

  • Investigate crimes that have occurred within an institution, or assist police in their investigations of crimes and inmates.
  • Drive passenger vehicles and trucks used to transport inmates to other institutions, courtrooms, hospitals, and work sites.
  • Take prisoners into custody and escort to locations within and outside of facility, such as visiting room, courtroom, or airport.
  • Monitor conduct of prisoners in housing unit, or during work or recreational activities, according to established policies, regulations, and procedures, to prevent escape or violence.
  • Serve meals, distribute commissary items, and dispense prescribed medication to prisoners.
  • Record information, such as prisoner identification, charges, and incidences of inmate disturbance, and keep daily logs of prisoner activities.

Skills Needed to be a Correctional Officer or Jailer

Below is a list of the skills most Correctional Officers and Jailers say are important on the job.

Social Perceptiveness: Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Types of Correctional Officer or Jailer

  • Detention Officer
  • Cottage Parent
  • Correctional Captain
  • Penal Officer
  • Turnkey

Job Demand for Correctional Officers and Jailers

In the United States, there were 450,000 jobs for Correctional Officer or Jailer in 2016. There is little to no growth in job opportunities for Correctional Officer or Jailer. The BLS estimates 31,300 yearly job openings in this field.


The states with the most job growth for Correctional Officer or Jailer are Washington, Illinois, and South Dakota. Watch out if you plan on working in Connecticut, New Jersey, or Kansas. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

How Much Does a Correctional Officer or Jailer Make?

The average yearly salary of a Correctional Officer or Jailer ranges between $31,140 and $76,760.


Correctional Officers and Jailers who work in California, New Jersey, or Rhode Island, make the highest salaries.

How much do Correctional Officers and Jailers make in each U.S. state?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $36,760
Alaska $64,670
Arizona $44,150
Arkansas $34,120
California $75,400
Colorado $50,620
Connecticut $54,420
Florida $43,410
Georgia $34,290
Hawaii $59,020
Idaho $39,710
Illinois $62,440
Indiana $36,960
Iowa $50,750
Kansas $36,550
Kentucky $35,940
Louisiana $34,370
Maine $40,440
Maryland $49,220
Massachusetts $67,920
Michigan $51,890
Minnesota $51,660
Mississippi $30,840
Missouri $31,650
Montana $40,570
Nebraska $40,310
Nevada $62,140
New Hampshire $47,860
New Jersey $70,280
New Mexico $36,250
New York $64,490
North Carolina $38,500
North Dakota $44,700
Ohio $45,190
Oklahoma $33,060
Oregon $58,450
Pennsylvania $54,140
Rhode Island $68,710
South Carolina $37,560
South Dakota $39,310
Tennessee $35,470
Texas $42,380
Utah $46,150
Vermont $45,810
Virginia $41,860
Washington $57,740
West Virginia $36,960
Wisconsin $44,230
Wyoming $42,290

Tools & Technologies Used by Correctional Officers and Jailers

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Correctional Officers and Jailers:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Web browser software
  • Microsoft Access
  • Guardian RFID
  • Jail management software

How do I Become a Correctional Officer or Jailer?

What education is needed to be a Correctional Officer or Jailer?


How Long Does it Take to Become a Correctional Officer or Jailer?


Where Correctional Officers and Jailers Are Employed


The table below shows the approximate number of Correctional Officers and Jailers employed by various industries.



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More about our data sources and methodologies.

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