Correctional officer education and training.

Position::Survey Summary - Report

Prehire Requirements

Of the 41 reporting systems, all but Louisiana required a high school degree or GED for prehire requirements. The educational requirements are waived for years of service in four systems: Hawaii, Michigan, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. Hawaii allows for substitutions for a high school degree with work experience that demonstrates reading, writing and math skills. In Michigan, the requirement is waived for two years of correctional officer experience in a state or federal facility, plus two years as a correctional officer. In Oklahoma, the requirement is waived for certain job descriptions, and the educational requirements are waived in Pennsylvania. The question was not applicable to Colorado and Louisiana.

Most of the systems conduct tests to evaluate preservice applicants--besides South Carolina and South Dakota, which do not conduct evaluation testing. Of the reported tests, psychological, medical, physical agility and written exams represent the majority listed. In Alabama and Oklahoma, the tests are conducted by personnel departments. Michigan reported having the highest number of class hours required at 640 hours, and West Virginia requires the fewest with 40 hours for orientation. South Carolina does not require any. Average preservice wages are listed in Table 1. (1) Training wages can also be found at the end of Table 1.

Program Components

Thirty-five of the 36 program components are offered in the majority of the systems. Spanish is only offered in four of the systems - Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nevada and Texas. Self-defense, sexual misconduct on staff and use of force are the only program components offered in every system. Massachusetts and Nevada offer all 36 components, with Nevada offering many more additional components. Additional program components that are offered by the systems are listed in Table 2B.

Special Incentives

Twenty-eight of the systems do not offer monetary incentives for obtaining additional education, while the majority of the 14 that do offer monetary incentives use a salary incentive that is determined by the level of degree. Other forms of recognition include awards and certificates; pins to be worn on uniforms; college credit awarded toward a degree for completion of recruit training; and stipends for achieving advanced degrees. In Colorado, an academic award goes to the staff member with the highest grade point average in basic training. In Nevada, staff with bachelor's degrees may be hired as correctional officers rather than correctional officer trainees. A Women's History Month award is presented as a form of recognition in New York.

Twenty-two of the systems do not require additional education for promotion. As for the systems that do, the majority require an advanced degree of some level. For some of the systems, it depends on the job classification; and only a few require specific training or the passing of an exam to be eligible for promotion. In Arizona, additional education is not required, but staff in leadership and managerial roles are strongly encouraged to pursue their degrees. New Mexico requires probation and parole officers to have a bachelor's degree.

Program Options

Twenty-five systems offer distance learning courses. The different distance learning courses vary by the systems. The most prevalent types of courses are Web-based, while others include e-learning, online training classes, partnerships with colleges and the systems' own learning management systems. Additional infrastructure is being developed in Massachusetts, and Virginia is currently creating programs.

As for local educational partnerships, 21 of the systems have a partnership with community colleges, 19 with universities, one with technical schools and two did not specify. Georgia is the only system that reported having partnerships with technical schools.

The majority of the systems do not offer reimbursements for job-related educational courses, while 15 do offer some type of reimbursement. In Connecticut and Wyoming, reimbursement is offered on a limited basis. In Maryland, reimbursements are offered when funding is available. In Colorado, there is a plan for tuition reimbursement, but it has not been funded since 2008, and should be reinforced when the economy stabilizes. Tuition reimbursement is available to staff who complete a course of study in the corrections field in Indiana. In New York, tuition reimbursement is provided by unions.

Mississippi reported the highest number of in-service training hours for the first year at 360 hours. Idaho also ranks in the top with 356 hours. Hawaii has no policy for in-service training for the first year; Maryland requires none other than the academy: and Kansas, Michigan and Nebraska do not require any. Georgia requires the fewest number of hours with 20 hours.

For annual in-service training hours, the majority of the systems require 40 hours. Maine requires the highest number of hours with more than 120. The required hours are determined by the administration in North Dakota. Georgia and Montana require the fewest--only 20 hours per year.


(1) Numbers may not be comparable due to the different expenses that the systems included in the calculation of average preservice wages.

For more information about surveys featured in this or past issues of Corrections Compendium, contact Shelby Hajek, researcher, CEGA Services Inc., at (402) 420-0604; or

CORRECTIONAL OFFICER EDUCATION AND TRAINING Table 1: prehire Requirements SYSTEM eDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS WAIVED FOR YEARS OF SERVICE High SchoolGED Other Yes No ALABAMA Yes X ALASKA No response ARIZONA Yes X ARKANSAS Yes X CALIFORNIA No response COLORADO Yes N/A N/A CONNECTICUT Yes X DELAWARE No response FLORIDA Yes X GEORGIA Yes X HAWAII Yes X(1) IDAHO Yes X ILLINOIS No response INDIANA Yes X IOWA Yes X KANSAS Yes X KENTUCKY Yes X LOUISIANA No N/A N/A SYSTEM EVALUTION TESTING CLASSHOURS REQUIRED ALABAMA Handled by the Alabama State 480 basic training and Personnel Department and based 96 on-the-job training on a state merit system philosophy ALASKA ARIZONA Entrance exam including observation 280 and recall of details, human relations and reading comprehension ARKANSAS Physical assessment and wide range 240 achievement test CALIFORNIA COLORADO Two academic tests, a written and 200 practical test for pressure point control tactics, and a safety/ qualification tests for firearms CONNECTICUT Written exam and a physical agility 231 classroom training exam plus 145 on-the-job training DELAWARE FLORIDA The Florida Basic Abilities Test 420 GEORGIA Technical college competency test 240 HAWAII Yes, physical agility and oral 320 testing IDAHO Yes, 46 basic math, reading 196 hours, plus 40 comprehension and English questions hours new employee orientation prior to start of the preservice academy ILLINOIS INDIANA Series of written exams Adult facility-160, Juvenile facility-200 IOWA Corrections officer video test, 138 hours of reading comprehension and preservice, plus 40 psychological test hours new employee orientation at home institution KANSAS Yes 240 KENTUCKY Pre- and post-tests during Basic 160 Academy LOUISIANA All applicants must pass the cadet 120 test SYSTEM WAGES Average Preservice Training Wage ALABAMA $20,000, estimated $27,552 annually ALASKA ARIZONA $9,036.70 $31,886 ARKANSAS $5,699.70 approx. $25,268-$28,770 CALIFORNIA COLORADO $7,277.34 $3,273 CONNECTICUT $7,878.75 $37,388 annually, $1, 432.50 biweekly and $143.25 daily DELAWARE FLORIDA $672 $30,000 approx. GEORGIA N/A $24,322.01 HAWAII See footnote(2) $40,154 IDAHO $15,000 which includes salary $13.14 per hour ILLINOIS INDIANA Adult facility-$3,266.29, $23,582 annually Juvenile facility-$4,082.87 IOWA No response $37,481.60 KANSAS Unknown $13.61 per...

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