Arizona Corrections Officer Job Description

Arizona’s Department of Corrections (DOC) employs a professional workforce of correctional officers to ensure inmates’ sentences are served lawfully. Officers are trained in the field’s best security procedures and practices to ensure criminals are given a fair and unrestricted chance at rehabilitation. Working as a correctional officer opens the door to a wide variety of jobs and promotions within the Arizona DOC, all of which contribute to improving public safety. Officers will receive state-of-the-art training and opportunities to advance to their highest potential.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons operates several offices and correctional facilities in the state.  In addition to a community corrections center in Phoenix, the BOP also manages a medium security Federal Correctional Institution in Phoenix, a low security Federal Correctional Institution in Safford, and a Federal Correctional Complex in Tucson that is comprised of a medium security facility as well as a high security U.S. Penitentiary. In 2013, the total number of inmates at Arizona federal facilities was 5,132.

Getting Started

Federal Correctional Officers

The minimum qualifications for correctional officers with the Federal Bureau of Prisons include:

  • Be a U.S. citizen (In rare cases, non-citizens may be hired if demand is high enough)
  • Be at least 21 years old and younger than 37
  • Be able to pass a thorough background investigation including financial history
  • Completed a four year college with a bachelor’s degree; or
  • Have at least three years of experience in
    • Counseling; or
    • Teaching; or
    • Selling product or services; or
    • Responding to emergencies; or
    • Supervision or management; or
    • Religious instruction; or
    • Security

Experience in one of these occupations does not necessarily need to be paid but should be full time, i.e. 40 hours a week. These qualifications allow candidates to join the BOP at the GS-5 pay grade, which provides salaries ranging from $31,315 up to $40,706.  Candidates with one or more of the following qualifications may join the BOP at the GS-6 pay grade, which provides salaries from $34,907 to $45,376:

  • Nine semester hours or fourteen quarter hours of graduate study in
    • Criminology
    • Law
    • Social science
  • At least one year of full time experience in
    • Law enforcement
    • Corrections
    • Detention
    • Clinical mental health operations

Arizona’s Department of Corrections (DOC)

Potential candidates can begin the application process by contacting a Recruitment Unit for Selection and Hiring (RUSH) at 1-888-545-RUSH (7874) or applying online through the Arizona State online jobs portal. A recruiter will review a candidate’s minimum qualifications to determine initial eligibility:

  • At least 21 years old with a high school diploma or GED
  • Proof of legal residency and a valid driver’s license
  • No felony convictions or multiple acts of moral turpitude

If the candidate meets the three requirements, he or she can fill out an application and will be scheduled for a written and oral exam. Both tests will assess the areas of:

  • General knowledge
  • Reading comprehension
  • Human relationship skills
  • Ability to follow directions
  • Observational abilities

Candidates passing the tests will be invited back for a formal interview. If all goes well a conditional offer of employment will be extended, contingent upon the candidate’s successful completion of the hiring process.

Arizona DOC Hiring Process

Candidates who make it this far will have already received an offer of employment. Now they must complete:

  • Background check: the candidate will complete an extensive background questionnaire and be required to submit proof of the fulfillment of the minimum requirements
  • Medical exam that evaluates vision, hearing, lab work, medical history, and any other areas of concern
  • Physical fitness test to be administered in the following events:
    • Simulated trigger pull and tensile strength
    • Push-ups
    • Sit-ups
    • Sit-and-reach
    • Stair climb
    • Lifting: weight and proper technique
  • Psychological assessment and personality test
  • Drug test

Federal BOP Hiring Process

The federal hiring process begins by visiting www.USAJobs.gov, where job postings for federal correctional officers can be found.  Following the link to the Office of Personnel Management will direct applicants to answer several questions about job eligibility.  The application may be submitted online along with the necessary uploaded documentation.

Prior to employment, candidates will be required to perform a set of exercises that help evaluate them for strength, agility and stamina.  This Physical Abilities Test consists of

  • Climb and grasp—candidates have seven seconds to climb a ladder and retrieve an object
  • Obstacle course—should be completed within 58 seconds
  • Dummy drag—a 75 pound dummy must be dragged at least 694 feet within three minutes
  • Run and cuff—within two minutes and 35 seconds, candidates must run a quarter of a mile and handcuff a target
  • Stair climb—while carrying a 20 pound weight, candidates must climb 108 stairs within 45 seconds

If these steps are successfully completed, an interview will be scheduled with BOP personnel.  A medical evaluation and background check will also be conducted along with a drug test.

Correctional Officer Training Academy

The Correctional Officer Training Academy is held in Tucson. This is a nine-week live-in program that imparts the knowledge, abilities, and skills needed for a solid foundation to advance in corrections careers. Trainees will receive college credit for their physically and academically challenging courses, learning how to become a qualified officer. These include:

  • Modern technology and correctional management
  • Self-defense and firearm training
  • Inmate policy, procedures, and management
  • Arizona law and state code
  • Safety procedures, first aid, and CPR
  • Control, security, and custody
  • Mental health and medical awareness

Officers will also receive two weeks of on-the-job training at their home corrections facility, split between a week in the mid-cycle of the training academy and a week after graduation.

New federal correctional officers will receive 200 hours of pre-employment training through Introduction to Correctional Techniques Phases I & II. Phase I will consist of 80 hours of orientation held at the officer’s assigned federal correctional facility.  Phase II will be conducted at the Staff Training Academy in Glynco, GA. This three week, 120 hour program will include firearms training, self-defense, and correctional policies and procedures.  In subsequent years, officers must receive between 16 and 40 hours of additional training annually.

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