California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Correctional Officers and Jailers in California

May also be called: Youth Correctional Officers; Youth Correctional Counselors; Casework Specialists; Prison Guards; Peace Officers; Detention Officers; Detention Deputies; Deputy Jailers; Community Services Officers; and Custody Assistants.

What Would I Do?

Correctional Officers guard inmates in State institutions while Youth Correctional Officers, Youth Correctional Counselors, and Casework Specialists work with the youth (also known as “wards”) in juvenile facilities and rehabilitative sites. Any one of these officers can supervise or transport inmates between courtroom, prison, medical facility, or other points. This occupation also describes the work of deputy sheriffs and police officers who spend the majority of their time guarding prisoners in local jails.

Correctional Officers work in various-sized institutions, ranging from tightly-controlled, maximum-security prisons to light-security complexes resembling college campuses. Working in a correctional institution can be stressful and hazardous, although the nature and extent of danger vary with each assignment. In general, the hazard is minimized by completing thorough and intense academy training and by following recognized procedures for preventing and controlling violence.

The California Correctional Peace Officers Association represents more than 30,000 Correctional Peace Officers working inside California’s prisons and youth facilities.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Correctional Officer will appeal to those who have integrity and a realistic and social nature. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. Social occupations involve communicating, teaching, and working with people.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The table below reflects median wages for all Correctional Officers and Jailers in California’s State, local, and federal institutions. Correctional Officers who work for Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation typically earn higher wages than those working in federal, city, and county institutions.

The median wage in 2015 for Correctional Officers and Jailers in California was $76,894 annually, or $36.97 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2015Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$59,615$76,894$81,176
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2015 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

State of California Correctional Officers receive medical, vision, and dental benefits, enrollment in the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), paid holidays and vacation, and are members of the State Peace Officer/Firefighter retirement category. State Correctional Officers also receive a uniform replacement allowance and other monetary incentives based on education, fitness, and institution location.

What is the Job Outlook?

Most job openings for Correctional Officers will occur due to the need to replace those who retire or leave the occupation for other reasons. Some states, including California, are reconsidering mandatory sentencing guidelines because of budgetary constraints, court decisions, and doubts about their effectiveness.

How Do I Qualify?

Most institutions require Correctional Officers to be at least 21 years of age and a U.S. citizen; have a high school education or its equivalent; demonstrate job stability, usually by accumulating two years of work experience; and have no felony convictions. State, federal, and some local departments of corrections provide training for Correctional Officers. State Correctional Officers receive a salary while attending a training academy for 16 weeks.

Finding a Job

Prior to attending the training academy, entry-level State Correctional Officers are typically given their first assignment from the State Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, with priority going to those who select employment at the hardest to fill institutions. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).


Learn More About Correctional Officers and Jailers