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California Corrections Officer Job Description

Correctional Officer is an entry-level-class job in California. Candidates who are accepted for the position attend a 16-week training program followed by a two-year apprenticeship at a correctional institution. Candidates must be willing to relocate to work at any of the more than 30 correctional facilities located throughout the state.

Correctional officers in California earn a monthly salary of $3,050 while at the academy and $3,774 and up after the academy with a top pay of $6,144 per month.

California is also home to a large number of federal correctional facilities, community corrections centers and administrative offices. The federal correctional facilities include

  • Federal Correctional Institution Herlong—houses 1,715 males in medium and minimum facilities
  • Federal Correctional Institution Dublin—houses 1,425 males and females in low and minimum  security
  • U.S. Penitentiary Atwater—Houses 1,604 males in high security prison and a low security camp
  • Federal Correctional Institution Mendota—houses 757 male inmates in medium and minimum custody
  • Federal Correctional Complex—includes U.S. Penitentiary Lompoc which holds 1,479 male inmates in medium security, and 512 males in a minimum security camp, as well as FCI Lompoc which houses 1,481 males in low security
  • Metropolitan Detention Center Los Angeles—houses 913 males and females in detention
  • Federal Correctional Institution Terminal Island—houses 1,166 males in low security
  • Metropolitan Correctional Center San Diego—holds 964 males and females awaiting trial or transition
  • Federal Correctional Complex—Includes a 1,490 population high security U.S. penitentiary, and two medium security facilities housing 3,515 males

Job Description of Correctional Officer in California

A correctional officer’s responsibilities differ with the facility design, geographic location, number of inmates, security level of inmates and assignment area, such as inmate housing units, kitchen, yard, towers, reception areas, gun ports or control booths. An officer’s duties may include any of the following:

  • Subdue/restrain inmates
  • Escort inmates to and from work assignments or activities
  • Stand guard at armed posts
  • Oversee inmate work
  • Inspect inmate quarters for contraband
  • Conduct body searches
  • Handle emergency situations
  • Do surveillance from towers
  • Examine incoming/outgoing mail
  • Write reports and memoranda

Minimum Requirements for Correctional Officer Jobs in California

Federal Correctional Officers 

Federal correctional officers may join the Federal Bureau of Prisons at the GS-5 level with these qualifications:

  • U.S. citizen (Some hard to fill positions may permit non-citizen hiring)
  • At least 21 years of age and younger than 37
  • No serious criminal history
  • No history of financial delinquency
  • Bachelor’s degree; or
  • At least three years of full time experience in
    • Supervision or management
    • Sales of services or products
    • Teaching
    • Child care
    • Security
    • Counseling
    • Religious instruction
    • Emergency response

More qualified applicants have the option of entering the BOP at the GS-6 if they meet one or both of these requirements:

  • Have completed at least 14 quarter hours or nine semester hours of graduate coursework in
    • Social science
    • Law
    • Criminal justice
  • Have at least one year of full time experience in
    • Law enforcement
    • Mental health treatment
    • Corrections

The salary for GS-5 employees is between $31,315 and $40,706, while GS-6 employees earn salaries ranging from $34,907 toi $45,376.

State Correctional Officers

  • U.S. citizen (or applicant) at least 21 years old
  • High school graduate (GED acceptable)
  • No felony convictions
  • Good physical condition
  • Eligible to possess/use firearms
  • Knowledge of the purposes and methods of custodial discipline
  • Ability to do basic arithmetic
  • Competence in English grammar and spelling
  • Capable of remembering names and faces
  • Ability to control and instruct inmates
  • Be Emotionally stable
  • Possess a sympathetic and objective understanding of persons in custody

Hiring Process for Correctional Officer in California

Federal Bureau of Prisons

The hiring process for federal correctional officer jobs in California begins by searching for open positions on www.USAJobs.gov.  Applicants must complete a questionnaire verifying they are eligible for correctional officer jobs.  An application may be submitted online, along with digital uploads of supporting documents like transcripts, resumes and military veteran documents.

Following approval, candidates will be asked to interview with hiring personnel and submit to an intensive background investigation.  A medical officer will also conduct a urinalysis drug screen as well as a medical checkup.

California Department of Corrections

The hiring process for those interested in learning how to become a California correctional officer may take as long as a year. Candidates who meet the basic requirements must progress through the following steps to be eligible for correctional officer jobs in California. Each component must be successfully completed before moving on to the next.

  • Written general knowledge examination
  • Vision test
  • Physical fitness test
  • Fingerprinting
  • Pre-investigation interview and background investigation
  • Written psychological test and oral psychological evaluation
  • Medical exam
  • Job offer


Training Academy

Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy

The 200 hour training program for federal correctional officers includes 80 hours of orientation held at the officer’s assigned facility.  This is followed by a three week training program held at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy in Glynco, GA.  This program will include

  • Physical Abilities Test
  • Correctional policies and procedures
  • Firearms training
  • Self-defense

After the first year, federal correctional officers are required to receive between 16 and 40 hours of additional training each year.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Academy

All new hires attend a 16-week training program at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Academy in Gail, a suburb of Sacramento. Cadets at the para-military-style academy are physically, mentally and emotionally challenged each and very day. Classroom and field classes are given in such courses as:

  • Physical fitness
  • Firearms, expandable baton and impact weapons training
  • Arrest/control tactics
  • Chemical agents
  • Restraint devices
  • Laws of arrest/rules of evidence
  • Report writing
  • Sociology of prison gangs
  • Constitutional rights and rights of the confined
  • The effect and use of force

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