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What Are the Requirements to Be a Correctional Officer in NYC?

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The New York City Department of Correction offers careers with the opportunity for advancement. Those who become correction officers enjoy paid training, paid vacation and holidays, as well as health insurance and longevity pay. The starting salary is $37,579 but may increase to $73,546 as of 2011, according to the department. However, the process to become a correction officer is lengthy and may be arduous for some. You must meet an array of basic qualifications. You must also pass a battery of exams, followed by training at the Correction Academy.

Basic Qualifications

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To be appointed as a correction officer, you must be at least 21 years old. However, you may take the written exam to begin the process if you are at least 17 1/2. On the hiring date, you must possess a valid New York state driver's license and proof of U.S. citizenship. You must also maintain a permanent residency either in New York City or one of the approved surrounding counties, such as Rockland, Nassau or Putnam.

By the hiring date, you must also meet certain educational requirements in one of three possible ways. The first approach is to complete a minimum of 39 credits at an accredited university. If you are accepted into training, your 21 academy training credits will bring the total to 60 semester credits. The second approach is to have a U.S. high school diploma or equivalent and two years of military service. The third approach is to have a high school diploma or equivalent and two years of law enforcement experience.

Disqualifying Factors

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It is not enough to meet the basic qualifications to become a NYC correction officer; you must also avoid anything that would disqualify you. You must not have been convicted of domestic violence or petty larceny. You must not have any felony convictions on your record. If you do have a police record, the recruitment office will examine it for signs that you have repeat offenses that demonstrate a poor moral character or a disrespect for the law. In addition, the office will look at your previous employment record. You may be disqualified if you have been fired from a position in a manner that indicates a poor attitude toward discipline.

Exams

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The Department of Correction administers periodic written exams for potential recruits. It also provides a tutorial program for candidates. You may register for the written exam through the department, as they become available. There are two testing centers. As of 2011, one is located in lower Manhattan; the other is in downtown Brooklyn. If you successfully pass this written exam, the department will conduct a background check, a drug and alcohol screening, and a physical agility test. You must also pass a written and an oral psychological test, as well as a fire safety test. Passing all of these tests successfully qualifies you for training at the Correction Academy.

Training

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The Correction Academy is located in Queens. This paid, 16-week course combines an academic curriculum with physical training. You will learn search procedures, how to properly fill out paperwork, and emergency response skills, as well as how to safely escort an inmate. You will also take classes in behavioral science, such as manipulation by inmates, respecting cultural differences, and how to treat special inmates, such as adolescents. Physical training includes calisthenics, self-defense tactics, and baton training, as well as tactical drills. If you successfully complete your training, you are eligible to become a NYC correction officer.