Correctional officers work in facilities that provide varying levels of security, depending on the type of inmates the facility houses. The most violent or dangerous offenders serve their time at maximum-security prisons. The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that correctional officers who work in maximum-security prisons receive training in disarming inmates and handling crises such as riots or hostage situations.
As of May 2010, the mean annual wage for correctional officers was $42,780, according to the bureau's Occupational Employment Statistics survey. Salaries ranged from $26,040 for the bottom 10 percent to $67,250 for the top 10 percent. The median annual wage for correctional officers was $39,040. The bureau calculated mean annual wages by multiplying the mean hourly wage of $20.57 by 2,080 -- the standard number of hours worked by a "full-time, year-round" employee.
State government and local government were the largest employer of correctional officers and paid them mean annual wages of $43,680 and $41,730 respectively. The highest paying industry for correctional officers was the federal executive branch, where the mean annual wage was $53,140 as of May 2010. Other high paying industries for the occupation were "psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals" at $47,190 per year and facility support services at $33,130 annually, according to the BLS.
Texas, California, New York, Florida and Pennsylvania were the states that employed the most correctional officers. Salaries in those states ranged from $33,190 in Texas to $65,500 in California. Correctional officers working in New Jersey -- the highest-paying state for correctional officers -- earned a mean annual wage of $66,590. The two highest paying metropolitan areas for correctional officers are located in New Jersey, according to bureau data. In Edison, N.J., the mean annual wage for correctional officers was $71,100 and in Trenton it was $68,660.
The BLS estimates that employment for correctional officers will grow by 9 percent through the year 2018. Job growth will be driven largely by increased incarceration rates as well as by turnover. In addition to salary, correctional officers who work in the public sector receive uniform allowances. Correctional officers employed by state and federal governments can retire at age 50 if they have 20 years of service at age 50 or at any age with 25 years of service.