Correctional Officer

_

What correctional officers do

Correctional officers are responsible for overseeing individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been sentenced to serve time in a jail, reformatory, or prison.


Work environment

Working in a correctional institution can be stressful and hazardous. Every year, correctional officers are injured in confrontations with inmates. Correctional officers have one of the highest rates of nonfatal on-the-job injuries.

What is work like as an Officer?

Correctional officers usually work 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, on rotating shifts. Some correctional facilities have longer shifts and more days off between scheduled workweeks. Because jail and prison security must be provided around the clock, officers work all hours of the day and night, weekends, and holidays. In addition, officers may be required to work paid overtime.

Injuries

Correctional officers have a higher rate of injury and illness than the national average. They may face physical injury when conflicts with inmates occur. They may also be exposed to contagious diseases at work, although precautions are taken to avoid this possibility. The job demands that officers be alert and ready to react throughout their entire shift. The work can be stressful, and some officers experience anxiety.


Job Outlook

Employment of correctional officers is expected to grow by 5 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations.

Demand for correctional officers will come from population growth. However, because of budgetary constraints and a general downward trend in crime rates in recent years, demand will likely grow at a slower rate. Faced with growing costs for keeping people in prison, many state governments have moved toward laws requiring shorter prison terms and alternatives to prison. Community-based programs designed to rehabilitate offenders and limit their risk of repeated offenses while keeping the public safe may reduce prison rates.


Work Schedule

Correctional officers usually work 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, on rotating shifts. Some correctional facilities have longer shifts and more days off between scheduled workweeks. Because jail and prison security must be provided around the clock, officers work all hours of the day and night, weekends, and holidays. In addition, officers may be required to work paid overtime.