If you live near a state or federal prison and are looking for work, you’ve probably seen a lot of job postings for corrections officer positions lately. There are 3 prisons within a 20 mile radius of where I live. They are currently holding job fairs and offering generous hiring bonuses because all three agencies are very short-staffed.
Seeing all these posts got me thinking about what it takes to be a prison officer. What are the requirements and what are the restrictions?This topic is also a good fit for the questions we receive here prison insight: Can you be an asthmatic prison guard?
Therefore, today’s blog post will cover the following topics:
- prison guard job requirements
- Applicant Eligibility and Restrictions
- Can you be an asthmatic prison guard?
prison guard job requirements
There is no doubt that working within a correctional institution can be a stressful and dangerous job.according to Bureau of Labor Statistics, correctional officers and jailers have one of the highest rates of injury and illness of any occupation. Often, these injuries are the result of conflicts with prisoners.
Prisons are open and operational 24/7, which means officers work 12-hour shifts, including all hours of the day and night, including weekends and holidays. A career in corrections is not easy, but it does give you the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of prisoners.
When it comes to the general job requirements of correctional officers, they are responsible for protecting prison or prison life and property while enforcing all state and facility laws and regulations. As the Florida Corrections Officer job posting explains:
“The job requires the ability to use computer systems and electronic equipment effectively, involves an element of physical risk, and requires frequent contact with prisoners and the public in both routine and emergency situations. Those assigned to specialized units may have additional responsibilities and/or qualifications.”
Basic duties of correctional officers include maintaining radio contact with facilities and staff and responding to requests for assistance. Officers are required to conduct extensive searches of inmates’ bodies, cells and other living areas for contraband.
Officers also transport inmates to on-site and off-site locations, search incoming mail and packages, conduct daily inmate counts, and maintain accurate records. However, the first job of correctional officers is to maintain order and safety in the facility.
Applicant Eligibility and Restrictions
The qualifications required for prison officer applicants do vary by location and facility type. But there is a lot in common. Minimum age requirement is 18 or 19 and must have a high school diploma or GED.
Most facilities require applicants to be U.S. citizens and have no felony record. Misdemeanors are usually acceptable as long as they don’t involve “moral character” — that is, drug offenses or crimes against women and children. If the applicant is a former military member, they cannot be a veteran of dishonorable or bad conduct.
Physical abilities also vary, but every facility requires good eyesight. Must have at least 20/40 vision in each eye, correctable (contact lenses/glasses) is fine. Police officers must have the ability to use visual depth, distance and color vision, as well as night and peripheral vision.
Most facilities or departments require applicants to pass a physical aptitude test before being hired. Because of the physical demands of the job, officers need good cardiovascular strength and endurance. Also, they must be able to engage in violent and physical confrontation.
Correctional officers must be able to use both hands simultaneously and have dexterity in their hands and fingers. Flexibility in the upper body and extremities is also important, as is strength in the upper and lower body, legs, back, arms and hands.
Check out the officer’s job description, they detail the physical requirements of the job.
“Must have leg, arm, hand, hand-eye, hand/arm stability, body speed, quick reflexes, balance/balance coordination, and be able to stand for long periods of time. Ability to run, walk, bend/bend, twist/ Turn and maneuver in and out of tight spaces,” the post reads.
In terms of job skills, applicants will need to possess decision-making and adaptive skills, as well as effective oral and written communication skills. They also need to be able to follow directions, interact well with others, maintain high moral conduct, maintain personal hygiene, and maintain physical agility and strength.
Certificate and license requirements do vary by location, but most require you to have a valid driver’s license and some kind of law enforcement training or criminal justice secondary education. Some places do offer training programs that allow officers to apprentice on the job.
Can you be an asthmatic prison guard?
If you’re asthmatic and want to be a corrections officer, it’s not too difficult. If you have asthma you can be hired but you have to have your asthma under control and on good medication as you have to pass a minimum running and agility test.
Candidates will be considered “unsuitable” if asthma causes a significant loss of functional capacity related to job requirements.
Do you think you are up to the job of a corrections officer? Let us know in the comments below.
Sources: Correctional Officers and Bailiffs Lake County Detention Deputy Job Posting Federal Bureau of Prisons Correctional Officer Prison Officer Applicants – A guidance on health and fitness standards