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Corrections Employees—Facts and Figures

Number of Corrections Employees Nationwide

Employees in federal and state prisons (2000): 429,456
Employees in local jails (1999): 211,000
Total corrections employees: 640,456
Corrections officers (guards) in federal and state prisons (1999): 212,454
Corrections officers in local jails (1999): 151,000
Total corrections officers: 363,454


  • Median annual earnings of corrections officers (1998): $28,540

  • Salary for an officer with one year's experience ranges from $18,000 in Mississippi to $44,800 in New Jersey (1998).

  • Starting salary for Federal Bureau of Prisons officers (1999): $20,600 to $23,000.

Education and Training

  • New Federal correctional officers must undergo 200 hours of formal training within the first year of employment. They also must complete 120 hours of specialized training at the Federal Bureau of Prisons residential training center at Glynco, Georgia within the first 60 days after appointment.

  • All states require formal training. The training ranges from 80 hours in North Dakota to 640 hours in Michigan

  • Most institutions require that correctional officers be at least 18 to 21 years of age and have a high school diploma or its equivalent. 12 states—California, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Utah and Vermont—require some college credit.

  • According to a survey in the May 2000 issue of Corrections Compendium, the average education of a corrections officer, as reported by state governments, is as follows:

    Education Level of Correction Officers (# of states)

  • In the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the percentages go like this:

      High School   31.5%
      Trade School   3.6%
      Some College   31.2%
      College Degree   33.8%

  • Most states use both on-site training and outside academies, but Kansas, Wyoming and North Dakota do all training on site at the prisons and do not use academies.

  • Five states—Vermont, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Illinois and Colorado—do all of their formal training at academies.

  • All states and local correctional agencies provide on-the-job training at the conclusion of formal instruction.

Sources: US Department of Justice—Bureau of Justice Statistics, Corrections Compendium, Occupational Outlook Handbook

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