How to Become a Correctional Officer

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How to Become a Correctional Officer. If you're thinking about a career in law enforcement, consider becoming a correctional officer. The position offers benefits, such as health insurance, paid sick and vacation time and job security. You can enter this growing field my following these steps.

Wait until you turn 18 to apply for a job as a correctional officer. Some institutions require you to be 21.

Graduate from high school or get a GED if you haven't already done so. You'll need this at a minimum. Some places, like the Federal Bureau of Prisons, require a bachelor's degree, unless you have three years of job experience providing assistance to people. This includes counseling, nursing, firefighting, working with juvenile delinquents and even being a day care worker.

Become a citizen of the United States, or an alien authorized to work in the United States, if you're not one already.

Maintain a clean record. A felony will automatically disqualify you from consideration. So will any drug violations, domestic violence charges or misdemeanors within the last five years of your application date.

Meet health requirements. You must meet minimum eyesight and physical fitness requirements.

Determine if you want to work for a state or federal correctional institution.

Search for a job in your state by typing the words "correctional officer" and your state's name in a search engine. You can also visit the Federal Bureau of Prisons website for job openings.

Verify that you meet the institutions requirements.

Follow the application instructions. In some cases this may mean first passing a written test, then enrolling in an academy for further training.

Tip

A college degree or postsecondary education, especially in criminal justice, helps when it comes to promotions.

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