Correctional Officer  What They Do

Just the Facts


Correctional Officers and Jailers Career Video



Guards inmates in penal or rehabilitative institutions in accordance with established regulations and procedures. May guard prisoners in transit between jail, courtroom, prison, or other point. Includes deputy sheriffs and police who spend the majority of their time guarding prisoners in correctional institutions.

This career is part of the Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security cluster Correction Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Conducts head counts to ensure that each prisoner is present.
  • Inspects conditions of locks, window bars, grills, doors, and gates at correctional facilities to ensure security and help prevent escapes.
  • Monitors conduct of prisoners in housing unit, or during work or recreational activities, according to established policies, regulations, and procedures, to prevent escape or violence.
  • Searches prisoners and vehicles and conducts shakedowns of cells for valuables and contraband, such as weapons or drugs.
  • Maintains records of prisoners' identification and charges.
  • Records information, such as prisoner identification, charges, and incidences of inmate disturbance, and keeps daily logs of prisoner activities.
  • Guards facility entrances to screen visitors.
  • Uses weapons, handcuffs, and physical force to maintain discipline and order among prisoners.
  • Takes prisoners into custody and escorts to locations within and outside of facility, such as visiting room, courtroom, or airport.
  • Settles disputes between inmates.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Exposed to disease and infections more than once a month through work such as patient care, laboratory work, and sanitation control
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Picking out a particular sound in the presence of other sounds
  • Using muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring
  • Short periods of running, jumping, or throwing
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Detecting sounds and hearing the differences between sounds of different pitch and loudness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Exerting oneself physically over long periods of time without getting out of breath
  • Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying objects
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Rotating shift work
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Correctional Sergeant --
  • Corrections Officer (CO) --
  • Custody Assistant --
  • Deputy Jailer --
  • Detention Deputy --
  • Detention Officer -- Maintains secure detention facilities while ensuring the well being of those incarcerated and adhering to local, state and national laws and regulations.
  • Jail Officer --
  • Jailer --
  • Jailor --