As a young officer in the U.S. Army, I see that the scope of my duties and responsibilities can seem never-ending. I constantly ask myself: "When will 1 know enough to feel like I've mastered my duty position?" I imagine most professionals assigned to any new job feel this way at some point. We desire the expertise to meet the needs of the various functions we are expected to perform, but much of the learning frequently requires years of seasoned experience. My newest assignment as a detention platoon leader with the 67th Military Police Detention Company, 508th Military Police Detention Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington--as well as charge over military prisoners at the Northwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility (NWJRCF)--sparked a desire in me to fill in as many gaps in my knowledge base as possible until, over time, I can gain the situational expertise that a longer career affords.
One of the reasons I chose to take the American Correctional Association's certification test was to satisfy this thirst to be a more professional officer and to fill those knowledge gaps. The U.S. Army and the corrections field share similar qualities. Professionals in these occupations live by a code of ethics, constantly seeking expert knowledge and working to earn the public's trust. By becoming a certified corrections professional, I have reinforced these similarities and provided myself an opportunity to understand and appreciate the correctional profession while becoming a member of the team.
In my studies, I learned occupational expertise is an underlying principle of professionalism. The Army certifies its professionals in a multitude of ways. For example, officers and noncommissioned officers prove their expertise by attending courses throughout their careers, including the Army's Captains Career Course and Senior Leaders Course. In the correctional field, passing an ACA test is one way of certifying experts within the profession. The Army and the correctional profession require experts to field their teams because of the highly technical and dangerous nature of their work. Within both types of occupations, if professionals fail to do their jobs correctly, it can make major headlines the following day. The requirement of seeking expert knowledge through taking courses or tests and impending negative public image demonstrates why these occupations are only filled by experts...