Correctional officers must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. They then go through a training academy and are assigned to a facility for on-the-job training. Some facilities also require some college education or work experience, but law enforcement or military experience may be substituted for this requirement.

Correctional officers may complete a variety of certifications that provide additional resources for their daily work. These certifications also are a means to further the officers’ careers because they may lead to promotions. Qualified officers may advance to the position of correctional sergeant, who is responsible for maintaining security and directing the activities of other officers. Qualified officers also can be promoted to supervisory or administrative positions, including warden. Officers sometimes transfer to related jobs, such as probation officer, parole officer, or correctional treatment specialist.

What are Correctional Officers like?


Based on our pool of users, correctional officers tend to be predominately investigative people. Take our career test to see what career interest category best describes you.

Correctional Officers by Strongest Interest Archetype

Based on sample of 476 Sokanu users

Are Correctional Officers happy?


Correctional officers rank among the least happy careers. Overall they rank in the 3rd percentile of careers for satisfaction scores.

Correctional Officer Career Satisfaction by Dimension

Percentile among all careers

Education History of Correctional Officers

The most common degree held by correctional officers is Criminal Justice. 11% of correctional officers had a degree in criminal justice before becoming correctional officers. That is over 8 times the average across all careers. Psychology graduates are the second most common among correctional officers, representing 4% of correctional officers in the Sokanu user base, which is 0.6 times the average.

Correctional Officer Education History

This table shows which degrees people earn before becoming a Correctional Officer, compared to how often those degrees are obtained by people who earn at least one post secondary degree.

Degree % of correctional officers % of population Multiple
Criminal Justice 10.9% 1.3% 8.2×
Psychology 4.0% 6.7% 0.6×
Political Science 1.7% 2.9% 0.6×
Criminology 1.5% 0.4% 3.6×
Business Management And Administration 1.3% 6.4% 0.2×
Liberal Arts 1.3% 1.8% 0.7×
Sociology 1.0% 2.0% 0.5×

Correctional Officer Education Levels

89% of correctional officers have a high school diploma. 11% of correctional officers have an associate's degree.

No education 0%
High school diploma 89%
Associate's degree 11%
Bachelor's degree 0%
Master's degree 0%
Doctorate degree 0%

How to Become a Correctional Officer

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