In the United States, the correctional system is designed to not only house criminal offenders, but rehabilitates these criminals for re-entry into the general population. If you’re currently pursuing a degree in criminal justice, you’ve likely come across topics and coursework related to the corrections system. While entry into this field requires specialized training beyond an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, such as police and security training programs, a criminal justice degree is the first step in entering this salary rewarding and challenging career.
Correction System Career Opportunities
The following career opportunities are geared toward those interested in pursuing a job within the correctional system. While each state may feature its own entrance requirements, the majority of these positions requires at least a certificate in criminal justice studies. You will find the compensation for a career in law enforcement or security services is well worth the time and investment.
- Corrections Officer – These professionals work directly in prison and jail facilities that house criminal offenders. This position may also be referred to as detention officers. The primary responsibilities of a correctional officer is to monitor inmate activity, secure the facility and prevent fighting among inmates. This position may be found in municipal jails, federal and state prisons, police agencies and in a sheriff’s department. Along with physical monitoring, correctional officers must create detailed reports of inmate activity, behavior and progress.
- Probation Officer – Also referred to as a parole officer, this position monitors newly released inmates or criminal offenders who were offered probation instead of jail time. In some areas throughout the country, this position is known as community supervision officers as these professionals monitor the behavior and progress of criminals. They are responsible for ensuring offenders meet the terms of their probation and parole. They also offer guidance and a certain level of counseling for those seeking to re-enter the community as an asset and not a burden.
- Substance Abuse Counselor – This is a highly-specialized career option within the corrections field. The primary responsibility of this position is to provide inmates and offenders an opportunity to rid themselves from substance abuse issues. Counselors work one-on-one with addicts and offer personal and professional assistance. The requirements for working as a substance abuse counselor vary by state. However, the majority of state’s requires these professionals to hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in criminal justice with a concentration in psychology, social work or sociology. These counselors must also become certified by their state and pass extensive background checks. If interested in this career path, contact your state licensing board to determine specific qualifications and educational requirements.