Corrections officers, sometimes referred to as correctional officers or detention officers, are important members of the law enforcement community. These officers are responsible for admitting, processing and overseeing individuals detained or arrested, who are awaiting trial, or those sentenced to confinement after being convicted of a crime. The salary for a corrections officer can vary widely based on geographic location, experience and whether the officer works for a private company or governmental agency.
Corrections officers earned a median annual income of $38,380 as of May 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Average salaries ranged from less than $25,300 to more than $64,110. Corrections officers who were employed by the federal government tended to earn more than those employed by state and local governments. Officers employed by governmental agencies tended to earn more than those employed by private companies.
The geographic location where a corrections officer works can have a significant impact on the salary earned, according to PayScale.com. Officers working in Missouri earned the lowest average salary, ranging from $25,144 to $29,298. Officers in New York earned between approximately $44,500 and $63,000. Those working in New Jersey had the highest potential income with salaries ranging up to approximately $79,500 per year as of October 2010.
Corrections officers with more time on the job tend to earn more than those just starting out, according to PayScale.com. A corrections officer can expect to earn $23,464-$31,834 during his first year on the job. Those with more than five years experience can earn $28,600-$47,800. Officers with more than 20 years experience can earn approximately $53,000-$75,000 per year.
There is ample opportunity for corrections officers to work their way up within the system, even all the way to warden, according to the BLS. Compensation goes up in tandem with promotion. The BLS reports the median income for correctional officers who have been promoted to first-line supervisors was $57,380 as of May 2008.
The demand for new corrections officers is expected to keep pace with the general economy, growing at a rate of approximately 9 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the BLS. Openings are expected to be driven by the need to replace officers who retire or move to different jobs, and because of increased rates of incarceration.