Careers in Corrections

A career in corrections can be a good primary career, a second job or a stepping stone to a street cop job.

  • People who want to eat and want their family to eat. In other words, people that want a well-paying job. Why work in a dead-end job for $10 an hour with no security or benefits?
  • People wanting to work their way up and be street cops, as we already discussed. One advantage is you often are already in the retirement system so your correctional time might count toward your retirement.
  • People wanting to contribute to society, but perhaps don't feel like they want the pressures of street work
  • Military retirees who understand working in a paramilitary environment.
  • Retired cops. A cop can do 20 years and at that point in their life may not want to face the challenges of the street. He/she can retire, start collecting on their retirement and start a second career and then earn a combined retirement & correction income far exceeding what they made before. In order to do this, one must usually switch to a different retirement system, as most will not let you collect benefits while still contributing to the same retirement account.
  • Any retiree or person wanting a change of pace with health and other benefits.
  • People who like to hunt and fish and love the great outdoors, small towns and good schools. Correctional facilities are often located in rural locations. California has some facilities in Susanville, in the mountains of northern California. Think about Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and some of the southern states. Also, once in the system you can usually transfer to other prisons if you decide you don't like where you are.

In some states, correctional officers are not as well paid but live in nice areas with affordable housing and a high quality of life and good schools. For example, starting pay for an officer in Idaho is just $12.31 an hour (about $25,600 yearly), and that area has a lot to offer. Miami-Dade County listed a pay scale of $29,824 to $51,835. That is for officers; like other agencies there are usually corporals, sergeants, lieutenants, captains, etc that earn more money.

As a side note, I have found that corrections requires integrity and intelligence, but corrections tends to be more forgiving than some police agencies for one-time indiscretions or failures. Their physical and age requirements may not be as strict, either.

In summary, we generally have:

  • Prisons: for convicted felons, they often have work camps, too.
  • County (and a few city) jails: for those awaiting trial or who are sentenced to less than a year.
  • Youth facilities: just like the county and state facilities for adults.
  • Federal prisons
  • Contract prisons: run for government agencies, but staffed by a private company.

Corrections can be a well paid and rewarding career, second career or stepping stone to street police work. Give it a thought!

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