The position of corrections officer is a critical one, but it is not one that is experiencing a great deal of job growth. Corrections officers’ employment is expected to decline over the next decade due to changes in the criminal justice system and incarceration practices, even though other professions are experiencing at least modest growth. If you’re looking for work as a corrections officer, you’ll have a good shot at finding a job because of an abundance of retiring or otherwise departing corrections officers.
Corrections Officers in the United States
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 434,300 correctional officers working in the United States (BLS). Most corrections officers are employed by state governments, primarily in state-operated prisons, but also in community-based correctional officer positions. Another 36% are employed by the government of a locality. Jails run by municipalities typically house inmates for shorter periods of time, either while awaiting a trial or sentencing, or while serving shorter sentences for less serious crimes.
A whopping 5% of correctional officers are employed by facilities support services, while only 4% work for the federal government. Only a small percentage of all correctional officer jobs in the United States are held by correctional officers employed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
According to the Occupational Information Network, the majority of corrections officers employed today have a high school diploma as their highest level of formal education. Federal employees are the most likely to be corrections officers with a college degree.
Traditional Correctional Facilities are losing jobs.
Over the next decade, the BLS projects that employment opportunities in the United States will rise by 5%. Some occupations, on the other hand, are rapidly expanding, while others are contracting. Correctional officer is one of the professions that is losing jobs. Correctional officer positions are expected to decline by 7% during the same time period that the average job growth is predicted to be 5%. This equates to a loss of 31.400 jobs in the United States.
It’s not all bad news for aspiring corrections officers despite this data. There are a lot of good reasons for these decreases. Socially beneficial trends in criminal justice, such as the implementation of community-based corrections programs that cost the public less than prison, are identified by the BLS as contributing factors to this decline. These trends include a stronger focus on rehabilitation rather than lengthy prison sentences.
Corrections officer positions have decreased in the last few years, but this isn’t a cause for alarm. Even though many experienced officers are likely to retire or leave the profession, newcomers to the field can expect strong job prospects.
The Community Corrections field may be the right fit for you.
Corrections officers may also see many changes as a result of these reforms in the criminal justice system, especially as community corrections programs continue to grow. Working in non-traditional prison settings, you can supervise criminals who have been sentenced to community service or help ex-inmates adjust to life on the outside. For those who work in correctional facilities, these trends may have an impact on the most critical responsibilities of their position. Today, some prison systems are placing a greater emphasis on rehabilitation than in the past, and corrections officers are expected to provide inmates with some type of rehabilitative counseling as their sentences are nearing their end.
A major reason rehabilitation is becoming a major part of the criminal justice system is that these programs can help reduce re-offending rates, prevent future crimes, and save taxpayers money in court and prison costs.
Your Chances of Success in the Corrections Field
For those who are reconsidering a career in corrections because of the poor job outlook, know that there are ways to improve your chances, such as attending college. For entry-level corrections officer positions, only a bachelor’s degree is typically required by the federal government. However, a college education can strengthen your job application and position you for future career advancement to management and supervisory roles.
With a foundation in psychology, a degree in corrections or criminal justice can help you excel at challenging work tasks such as rehabilitation counseling. To be accepted into a correctional officer training academy, you must pass a written examination, which you can prepare for with the help of your education.
The hiring process for correctional officers can be improved if you prioritize your fitness and gain relevant professional experience in a job like private security officer.