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Colorado Corrections Officer Job Description

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has made Colorado an important location in its network of correctional facilities.  In addition to a community corrections management office as well as the National Corrections Academy in Denver, the BOP also operates the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, which houses 1,001 male inmates in a medium security facility and 169 males in a minimum security prison camp.  Of greatest importance, however, is the Federal Correctional Complex in Florence which consists of a medium security FCI which houses 1,060 inmates, a U.S. Penitentiary which holds 886 male offenders in high security and the Administrative Maximum facility that holds 439 inmates currently.  The AdMax facility in Florence is the only federal supermax correctional institution and uses the tightest controls on inmates  This facility currently holds some of the most notorious criminals and terrorists in the country including Eric Rudolph, Zacarias Moussaoui and Richard Reid.

Although the crime rate in Colorado dropped 6% between 2008 and 2009, there were 169 murders reported in 2009 along with 2,097 forcible rapes.  In total, 186,030 adults were arrested in Colorado in 2009.  As of April 2013, the prison population in the state was 20,087.  The Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) employs some 8,000 correctional officers to oversee these inmates as of last count in 2012.

Qualifications to Apply for Correctional Officer Jobs in Colorado

Federal Correctional Officer Jobs

The Federal Bureau of Prisons will hire correctional officers at the GS-5 or GS-6 pay grades.  All correctional officers must meet these minimum requirements.

  • U.S. citizen (Some facilities may hire non-citizens if the need is intense)
  • Between the ages of 20 and 37
  • No serious criminal history
  • Clean credit history
  • Ability to complete these tasks
    • Dummy drag—drag a 75 pound dummy across 684 feet in under three minutes
    • Obstacle course
    • Climb and grasp—climb a ladder and retrieve object within seven seconds
    • Stair climb—carry a 20 pound weight up 108 steps in under 45 seconds
    • Run and cuff—run a quarter mile and apply handcuffs to a target within two minutes and 35 seconds
 

Applicants seeking a GS-5 position should possess these qualifications:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree; or
  • Have at least three years of experience in
    • Counseling
    • Sales
    • Management
    • Emergency response
    • Security

GS-6 entry level jobs require candidates to meet at least one of these requirements:

  • Completion of nine semester hours or 14 quarter hours of graduate classes in
    • Social science
    • Law
    • Criminology
  • At least one year of paid, unpaid or volunteer work in
    • Law enforcement
    • Clinical mentally ill patient care
    • Corrections

GS-5 jobs provide salaries ranging from $31,315 up to $40,706, while GS-6 positions offer salaries from $34,907 to $45,376.

State Correctional Officer Jobs

There are a number of requirements to be able to apply for correctional officer jobs in Colorado.  They include:

  • Being at least 21 years old
  • Having a high school diploma or a GED certificate
    • May be waived for those with 2 years experience managing inmates
  • Being a resident of Colorado
  • Having an unrestricted, valid driver’s license
  • Not having a domestic violence or felony conviction

How to Apply to be a Correctional Officer in Colorado

Federal Bureau of Prisons

Prospective federal correctional officers must visit www.USAJobs.gov and follow the link from a job posting.  After completing the pre-employment questionnaire, applicants may file their application electronically along with supporting documentation.

If approved, candidates must interview with BOP hiring personnel and submit to a background investigation.  A urinalysis drug test and medical evaluation will also be performed.

Colorado Department of Corrections

Those seeking to become correctional officers in Colorado must apply online.  Part of the application involves choosing the desired geographic location for work.  It is extremely important to give an e-mail address on the application and to regularly check e-mail after applying.

Applicants who appear to be promising candidates will be contacted and notified of the date of the Phase I examination.  This test takes approximately three hours and includes:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Performance test based on video situations

The tests will be scored immediately.  Those who pass move on to Phase II testing.  This involves an oral exam in front of three people that will take about half an hour.  The applicant’s performance on the oral exam will then be scored.

The department will soon be including a physical agility test as part of the screening process.  It will involve:

  • Push-ups:  25 within 2 minutes
  • Sit-ups:  30 within 2 minutes
  • Wall ball exercise:  Crouching, then going from the floor to an overhead surface at 3 minutes while carrying a weighted ball
  • High stepping
  • Repetitive lifting and carrying:  75 pounds for men; 50 pounds for women
  • Grip strength:  50 inch minimum pounds of pressure
  • Hopping on one foot for 30 feet performed twice
  • Braiding/grape vine running:  running 30 feet sideways with a weighted ball twice
  • Blood pressure and oximeter screen

Those who passed all of these phases will be notified by e-mail.  The next step in being hired is to undergo a background investigation.  After passing the background check and drug screening, candidates will be notified when there is a vacancy in their geographic area.

Training to Become a Correctional Officer in Colorado

Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy

New federal correctional officers must complete Introduction to Correctional Techniques Phases I and II. The first phase is an orientation conducted at the assigned correctional facility.  Phase II is a three week program held at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy in Glynco, GA, which includes firearms training, self-defense, and policies and procedures regarding federal corrections. After the first year, officers must obtain between 16 and 40 hours of training annually.

CDOC Training Academy

Before they can start work, new employees learn how to become correctional officers through a month of basic training at the CDOC Training Academy in Canon City.  The American Correctional Association recognized the excellence of this program in May 2013 by awarding it accreditation.

Training goes from 8 AM to 5 PM, and tobacco, weapons, alcohol, cell phones, and pagers are not allowed on the grounds.  A professional appearance is required, and men cannot have goatees or beards.  Lodging will be provided for those who live and are assigned a work location that is outside of a fifty mile radius of the Academy.

The coursework at the Training Academy involves both academics and practical measures.  Topics include:

  • Federal laws
  • State laws
  • American Correctional Association standards
  • Policies
  • Firearms training
    • Shotgun
    • AR-15

Established correctional officers in Colorado undergo refresher training each year.

Corrections Officer Salary in Colorado

The following are the salary ranges of correctional officers in Colorado as published by the Colorado Department of Corrections. These salary figures are organized by rank:

Correctional Security Intern:

  • Minimum:  $31,608
  • Maximum: $44,976

Correctional Security Officer I:

  • Minimum:  $39,276
  • Maximum: $55,812

Correctional Security Officer II:

  • Minimum:  $43,284
  • Maximum: $61,536

Correctional Security Specialist III:

  • Minimum:  $47,724
  • Maximum: $67,836

Correctional Security Supervisor III:

  • Minimum:  $47,724
  • Maximum: $67,836

The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the following corrections officer salaries in Colorado:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Denver-Aurora-Broomfield CO
2400
50350
Pueblo CO
620
44250
East and South Colorado nonmetropolitan area
1630
40040
West Colorado nonmetropolitan area
320
41730
Northcentral Colorado nonmetropolitan area
100
46550
Central Colorado nonmetropolitan area
1980
47590

Colorado Springs, Colorado Corrections Officer Job Description

As of May 2013, there were 17,491 inmates housed in Colorado’s 19 state correctional facilities and 5 private correctional facilities. There are more than 6,000 correctional professionals who work through the Colorado Department of Corrections, which supports the state-operated facilities and monitors the privately owned facilities.

As of 2012, there were 8,006 new admissions into Colorado correctional facilities. Of those, 4,316 were new court commitments, 2,851 were technical parole violators, and 725 were a result of new felony convictions among parolees.

There are also two federal correctional institutions in Colorado — FCI Englewood and FCI Florence — both of which provide career opportunities for correctional officers.

How to Pursue Corrections Officer Jobs in Colorado Springs, Colorado

State Correctional Requirements

Individuals interested in pursuing correctional officer jobs in Colorado Springs must meet the minimum employment requirements, as set forth by the Colorado Department of Corrections. Candidates must:

  • Be a Colorado resident
  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have no felony convictions or domestic violence convictions
  • Possess a high school diploma or GED
  • Possess a valid and unrestricted driver’s license

Candidates for Colorado Springs corrections officer jobs must complete two phases of testing to be considered for employment with the Department of Corrections. Candidates must meet the Department’s minimum requirements to qualify for Phase I testing and must successfully complete Phase I testing to qualify for Phase II testing.

  • Phase I testing includes a reading comprehension exam and a video situational performance exam.
  • Phase II testing includes an oral assessment, which occurs before a panel of subject matter experts.

Individuals who successfully complete both phases of pre-employment testing are required to undergo a background investigation and then, if hired, complete a month-long basic training course through the Colorado Department of Corrections. Individuals who want to learn how to become a correctional officer in Colorado Springs must also expect to complete training in:

  • CDOC firearms (candidates must qualify with both a shotgun and an AR-15)
  • Pressure Point Tactics (PPCT)

It is expected that, in the near future, the CDOC will require candidates for correctional officer jobs to complete a Functional Capacity/Physical Agility as a condition for hire. The following will be assessed:

  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Crouching
  • High stepping
  • Repetitive lift and carry

Federal Correctional Requirements

Corrections officers working for the federal government must meet a different set of minimum qualifications:

  • Applicants must be no older than 37 at the time of hire, unless they have previous experience working in a civil service position for the federal government.
  • Individuals must have, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university; OR
  • At least 3  years of experience in one of the following areas:
    • Teaching
    • Counseling
    • Providing emergency response services
    • Supervising/managing
    • Selling in a commission-based environment

Individuals for federal correctional officer jobs in Colorado Springs may meet the experience requirements if they have worked in one of the following capacities:

  • Salesperson
  • Parole/probation worker
  • Teacher/Instructor
  • Guidance counselor
  • Social worker or welfare worker

Federal and State Corrections Officer Jobs in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Individuals may work as a federal correctional officer in one of the State’s two federal correctional facilities: FCI Englewood or FCI Florence.  Both institutions are medium-level security facilities, with Englewood capable of housing 485 inmates and Florence capable of housing 744 inmates at any given time.

The state correctional facilities located near Colorado Springs including the following:

  • Skyline Correctional Center – Canon City, CO
  • San Carlos Correctional Facility – Pueblo, CO
  • La Vista Correctional Facility – Pueblo, CO
  • Fremont Correctional Facility – Canon City, CO
  • Four-Mile Correctional Center – Canon City, CO
  • Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility – Canon City, CO
  • Colorado State Penitentiary – Canon City, CO
  • Centennial Correctional Facility – Canon City, CO
  • Arrowhead Correctional Center – Canon City, CO

Denver, Colorado Corrections Officer Job Description

The Colorado Department of Corrections oversees the operation and management of the 19 state-operated prisons, as well as 5 privately owned facilities. The more than 6,000 correctional professionals employed through the Colorado Department of Corrections are responsible for providing supervision to 17,491 offenders (as of May 2013) throughout the State’s public (13,591) and private (3,897) correctional facilities.

In addition to state facilities, correctional officers in Denver, Colorado, may also work at one of the two federal correctional facilities located in the state: SCI Florence and FCI Englewood.

The Hiring Process for Federal Correctional Officers

Individuals with aspirations of working at one of Colorado’s two federal correctional facilities – FCI Englewood and FCI Florence – must meet a distinctly different set of employment qualifications to attain federal corrections officer jobs in Denver.

Minimum requirements for federal correctional officers include:

  • Candidates must be no older than 37, unless they have previous experience working for the federal government in a civil service position.
  • Candidates must possess either:
    • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university; OR
    • At least 3 years of experience doing one of the following:
      • Counseling
      • Selling in a commission-based setting
      • Teaching/instructing
      • Supervising/managing
      • Responding to emergency situations

Further, individuals who want to apply for corrections officers jobs in Denver at a more advanced level can expect to have either extensive experience in one of the social sciences or criminal justice or have educational experience at the graduate level.

The Hiring Process for State Correctional Officers

Individuals interested in pursuing CO correctional officer jobs must take and pass a Phase I examination. Only those individuals who pass Phase I testing may be invited to move onto Phase II of the employment process, which includes an oral assessment.

Individuals who pass both phases of testing must then undergo a comprehensive background investigation with the Background Investigations Unit. Upon passing the background investigation, candidates for correctional officer jobs in Denver are ranked and considered for employment with the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Before applying for a job as a corrections officer in Denver, Colorado, however, individuals must ensure they meet the Department’s minimum requirements for employment. Individuals must:

  • Possess a high school diploma or GED
  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Possess a valid and unrestricted driver’s license
  • Have no felony convictions or domestic violence convictions
  • Be a Colorado resident

Upon being hired by the Department, all new correctional officers in Denver must successfully complete Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) Basic Training and undergo initial drug screening and random drug screening throughout their employment.  Further, individuals interested in learning how to become a correctional officer in Denver through training must be able to successfully complete firearms training and qualify with both a shotgun and an AR-15.

All corrections officers can expect to complete annual in-service training in such topics as: armed transport training; drug identification; and staff supervision, among others.

Working in Denver’s Correctional Facilities

Federal Correctional Facilities

  • FCI Englewood: The Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) of Englewood, which is located about 15 miles southwest of Denver, is a medium-level security facility that has a staff of 350 and a capacity of 485 inmates.
  • FCI Florence: The FCI of Florence is located in Florence, CO, about 90 miles south of Denver. This medium-level security facility has a capacity of 744 inmates and a staff of 364.

State Correctional Facilities

The state correctional facilities located near Denver, CO, include the following:

  • Colorado Correctional Center (Camp George West) – Golden, CO: The Colorado Correctional Center is a medium-level security facility that houses about 150 offenders.
  • Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center – Denver, CO: The Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center is the first place offenders are sent upon being sentenced to the Department of Corrections. Correctional officers of this maximum security facility are tasked with processing and classifying offenders.  It houses about 542 inmates, including a 14-bed special medical needs unit.
  • Denver Women’s Correctional Facility – Denver, CO: The Denver Women’s Correctional Facility houses 976 inmates.

Florence, Colorado Corrections Officer Job Description

The Florence Federal Correctional Complex, a federal correctional complex that is overseen by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), is located in Florence, Colorado, and consists of the following correctional facilities:

  • USP Florence ADMAX: A maximum security U.S. penitentiary and an adjacent, minimum security satellite camp; currently houses 909 inmates
  • FCI Florence: A medium-security federal correctional institution; currently houses 1,013 inmates
  • USP Florence – High: A high-security U.S. penitentiary; currently houses 629 inmates

How to Become a Federal Correctional Officer in Florence, Colorado

Aspiring correctional officers who would like to work in Florence, Colorado, at one of the three facilities located within the Florence Federal Correctional Complex must be hired at the GS-5 level through the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). To qualify at the GS-5 level, candidates must first meet the federal agency’s minimum requirements:

  • Must be a United States citizen
  • Must be between the ages of 21 and 36 at the time of appointment
  • Must have no felony convictions

Further, candidates must be able to meet job requirements through education and/or experience:

  • Must possess a four-year course of study resulting in a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university

OR

  • Must possess at least three years of full-time, general experience, with duties such as:
    • Counseling and/or providing guidance to individuals
    • Teaching/instructing individuals
    • Responding to emergency situations
    • Providing assistance or direction to individuals
    • Selling products or services in a commissioned sales position; OR
  • A combination of education and experience

Candidates may satisfy the education requirements by pursuing a formal bachelor’s degree program in subjects related to the profession, such as: criminology, criminal justice, sociology, public administration, and police science, just to name a few.

Candidates may satisfy the experience requirements at the GS-5 level working as a counselor, teacher, nurse, firefighter, clergyman, air traffic controller, security guard, parole/probation officer, welfare/social workers, etc.

USP Florence ADMAX: An American Federal Supermax Prison

USP Florence ADMAX is an American supermax prison that is located in Florence (Fremont County), Colorado. It is also frequently referred to as ADX Florence, Supermax, and even the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.” There are 31 supermax prisons in the U.S., all of which are known as being the most secure places on earth. USP Florence ADMAX, however, is the only federal supermax prison in the country; the others are state prisons.

Today, USP Florence ADMAX is home to some of the most dangerous criminals in the country, and almost all of the inmates here have been transferred from other facilities, where they were deemed a serious lethal threat or a high-risk escape. This federal prison, in fact, is so secure that not one person has managed to escape since it was built in 1994.

The inmates of USP Florence ADMAX are primarily housed in solitude, spending about 22 hours a day in their cells. This prison has been home to such infamous criminals as Ted Kaczynski (a.k.a. the Unabomber) and Richard Reid (a.k.a. the Shoe Bomber). Currently, Ramzi Yousef, the criminal mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center attack, and Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park bomber, are also housed here.

Fremont County, Colorado Corrections Officer Job Description

According to Fremont County officials, nearly half of the jobs in the county are connected to the Colorado Department of Corrections. Considering that there are no less than seven state correctional institutions in this county, it is no secret why correctional jobs are so abundant here.

The Colorado State correctional facilities in Fremont County and the Cañon City area include:

  • East Cañon Correctional Complex:
    • Arrowhead Correctional Center: A minimum-security facility; 494 beds
    • Four-Mile Correctional Center: A minimum-security facility; 499 beds
    • Skyline Correctional Center: A working camp; 249 beds
  • Centennial Correctional Facility: A high-security facility; 604 close custody and administrative segregation officers and a staff of 392
  • Colorado State Penitentiary: A maximum-security prison for the most violent and disruptive inmates; 756 beds and staff of 426
  • Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility: A medium-security facility; 936 beds
  • Fremont Correctional Facility: A minimum- to maximum-security prison; 1,661 beds and a line staff of 431

Qualifying for Correctional Officer Jobs in Fremont County

Individuals interested in becoming Colorado State correctional officers through the Colorado Department of Corrections should expect to engage in activities related to:

  • Guiding, directing, and referring
  • Reducing violence
  • Controlling contraband
  • The safety, security and sanitation of living areas

As such, general job duties for Colorado State correctional officers include:

  • Monitoring and inspecting offenders and property
  • Documenting incidents and making reports
  • Participating in effective communication and crisis intervention
  • Inspecting and using equipment
  • Physically restraining inmates, when appropriate

To qualify for Colorado State correctional officer jobs in Fremont County, candidates must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Possess a high school diploma or GED or two years of experience managing incarcerated populations in a criminal justice, law enforcement or correctional environment
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Be a Colorado resident
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Have no history of domestic violence

It is common for candidates pursuing a career in Colorado State corrections to complete a degree program (associate or bachelor’s degree) in a related field, such as:

  • Criminal justice
  • Criminology
  • Sociology
  • Public administration
  • Police science

The Employment and Training Process for COs in Fremont County

Candidates for State correctional officer jobs in Fremont County must be able to pass a number of pre-employment requirements, which include an initial drug screening, a background investigation, and a physical ability test, also known as Pressure Point Control Tactics (PPCT). Candidates must successfully complete all aspects of the PPCT, which include:

  • Lifting arms above the head and kicking as high as the waist
  • Stabilizing another person with a controlled takedown
  • Delivering blows with the shins, feet, and palms of hands
  • Withstanding the impact of own body from strikes/blows
  • Swinging a baton in a striking technique
  • Delivering a defensive tactic by rotating the body 90 degrees with planted feet
  • Transitioning from a standing position to a kneeling position multiple times

All new cadets must complete the Colorado Department of Corrections Basic Training course upon being hired.

Littleton, Colorado Corrections Officer Job Description

Littleton, Colorado (15 miles southwest of Denver) is the site of FCI Englewood, a Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility that serves as a low-security federal correctional institution. It also includes an adjacent, minimum-security satellite camp and detention center. Its inmate population currently stands at 1,152 inmates, with 985 of those inmates at the main facility and an additional 167 inmates at the satellite camp.

This federal correctional institution sits on nearly 320 acres and has a staff of 350. Like correctional officers throughout the nation’s federal correctional facilities, FCI Englewood correctional officers are responsible for:

  • Providing supervision, care and correctional treatment to inmates
  • Maintaining the security of the facility
  • Contributing to the health and welfare of the institution’s inmates
  • Promoting good public relations
  • Enforcing rules and regulations related to inmate accountability, facility security, and inmate conduct

Federal correctional officers in Littleton, Colorado may be required to carry firearms and work long or irregular hours, including unexpected overtime.

Education and/or Experience Requirements to Become a BOP Correctional Officer in Littleton

In addition to being a United States citizen and being between the ages of 21 and 36 (at the time of appointment), individuals must meet the minimum hiring requirement of the GS-5 level, which include possessing either a bachelor’s degree in any field or at least three years of general work experience, including one year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-4 level.

This specialized experience should demonstrate that the candidate possesses the personal attributes of a successful correctional officer. Just a few of the jobs that may fulfill this requirement include:

  • Social work in a welfare agency
  • Counseling work
  • Classroom teaching or instructing
  • Rehabilitative work
  • Supervising planned recreational activities (e.g., a community program)
  • Managing or supervising that involves directing the flow of work or the supervision of others
  • Persuasive sales or commissioned sales work

Other professions where this experience may be obtained include:

  • Firefighter
  • Nurse
  • Security guard
  • Daycare worker
  • Clergyman
  • Air traffic controller
  • Emergency medical technician

Individuals may also qualify for the GS-6 level if they possess at least 9 semester hours of graduate-level study in one of the following fields:

  • Criminology
  • Criminal justice
  • Social science
  • Another closely related field

They may also qualify at the GS-6 level if they possess at least one year of specialized experience performing duties related to:

  • A supervisory position in a correctional or mental health facility
  • Responding to domestic disturbances
  • Apprehending and arresting individuals who violate the law

This may include work as a correctional officer, police officer, detention officer, border patrol agent, sheriff, park ranger, among others. New BOP recruits must complete 200 hours of formal training within their first year of employment. They must then complete an additional 120 hours of specialized training at the BOP’s residential training center.

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