Some information about the job of correctional officer, provided by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics in an assessment which emphasizes two points: "The work can be stressful and hazardous. ... Job opportunities are expected to be excellent."
-Employment: Correctional officers hold close to 500,000 jobs. As of 2002, about 60 percent were in state prisons; most of the rest were in local jails. About 16,000 jobs were in federal prisons, another 16,000 in privately owned prisons.
-Duties: Officers enforce prison rules, supervise inmate work assignments, search for contraband, settle disputes between inmates, conduct inspections of cells, mail and visitors.
-Equipment: Officers generally work unarmed, equipped with communications devices so they can summon help if needed. In high-security prisons, officers often monitor inmates from a centralized control center with aid of closed-circuit TV cameras and computer tracking systems.
-Working Conditions: Every year, numerous officers are injured in confrontations with inmates. Some institutions are well-lighted, temperature-controlled and ventilated; others are old, overcrowded, hot and noisy.
-Training: In New York state, candidates must complete 12-month training program, including at least eight weeks at training academy. New federal officers must undergo 200 hours of formal training in first year of employment and complete 120 hours of specialized training at Federal Bureau of Prisons training center at Glynco, Ga.
-Job Outlook: Thousands of job openings expected annually. Some local and state corrections agencies have difficulty attracting and keeping qualified applicants, largely due to low pay and concentration of jobs in rural areas. Layoffs are rare because of increasing inmate populations. Officers may join bargaining units, but are not allowed to strike.
- Earnings: Median annual earnings were $32,670 in 2002. Median was $40,900 at federal prisons, $33,260 at state prisons, $31,380 at local jails, $21,390 at private prisons.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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