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Georgia Corrections Officer Job Description

Georgia is home to a large number of federal and state correctional facilities.  The Federal Bureau of Prisons operates the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta as well as the Federal Correctional Institution in Jesup.  The BOP also has two private facilities in McRae and Folkston that are managed by private contractors.  The total number of federal inmates in Georgia was 8,189 in 2013.

The Georgia Department of Corrections operates 38 prisons, which include several facilities operated by private companies.  The DOC supervised 38,369 inmates at state prisons in 2011, with 5,346 at private facilities.  The total costs for GDOC to operate in 2011 exceeded $1.133 billion.

Prerequisites to Become a Correctional Officer in Georgia

Federal Bureau of Prisons

To join the Federal Bureau of Prisons at the GS-5 level, candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree in any field; or
  • Have at least three years of work experience in one of these areas:
    • Teaching
    • Management
    • Commissioned sales
    • Emergency response
    • Counseling
    • Security

GS-5 employees receive salaries between $31,315 and $40,706. More qualified candidates may enter at the GS-6 pay grade but must possess one or more of these qualifications:

  • 14 quarter hours or nine semester hours of graduate coursework in one of these fields
    • Law
    • Criminal justice
    • Criminology
    • Social science
  • One year of full time experience in one of these areas
    • Corrections
    • Mental health facility work
    • Law enforcement
    • Detentions

In some cases, volunteer or unpaid work may satisfy these requirements.  GS-6 employees receive salaries between $34,907 and $45,376.

All federal correctional officers must also possess these  qualifications:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be between 20 and 37 years of age
  • Ability to pass a background investigation
  • Possess no serious financial discrepancies including poor credit history
  • Ability to successfully complete a physical abilities test composed of
    • Obstacle course
    • Dummy drag
    • Climb and grasp
    • Run and cuff
    • Stair climb

Georgia Department of Corrections

The Georgia Department of Corrections requires that correctional officers meet the following educational and experience requirements:

  • Have a high school diploma or GED certificate
  • Preferred:  GDOC prefers applicants with
    • One year of experience in a correctional setting; or
    • At least an associate’s degree in psychology, sociology, criminal justice or a related field

Applicants for correctional officer jobs in Georgia must also possess the following qualifications:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have no physical condition that would limit essential job functions
  • Have at least 20/40 vision in both eyes, with or without correction
  • Possess normal color vision
  • Have near normal hearing
  • Possess the physical conditioning to perform these timed tasks
    • One mile run
    • Sit ups
    • Push ups

Correctional officer job applicants in Georgia must also take the Peace Officer Standards and Training Entrance Exam prior to application.  In Georgia, the ASSET and COMPASS tests serve as the official POST exams.  These exams are offered through the Technical College System of Georgia.  The required scores on these exams to apply to a POST position are:

  • ASSET
    • Reading:  38
    • Writing:  35
    • Numerical:  35
  • COMPASS
    • Reading:  70
    • Writing:  23
    • Numerical:  26

The salary for state correctional officers is between $24,322 and $42,643.  The Georgia Department of Corrections also provides incentives for highly qualified applicants:

  • Educational incentives
    • Associate’s degree:  3 percent lump sum payment
    • Bachelor’s degree:  5 percent lump sum payment
    • Master’s degree:  5 percent lump sum payment
    • Military service incentives
      • 1 year of service:  2.5 percent salary increase
      • 2 years of service:  5.0 percent salary increase
      • 3 years of servic:  7.5 percent salary increase
      • 4+ years of service:  10.0 percent salary increase

Training to Become a Correctional Officer in Georgia

Federal

The Federal Bureau of Prisons mandates that all new correctional officers receive at least 200 hours of formal training to learn how to become correctional officers in Georgia.  The first 80 hours of training are entitled Introduction to Correctional Techniques Phase I and are conducted at the correctional facility the officer is assigned to, and includes an introduction to the major features of the facility, the most important policies and security procedures.  During this portion of training, officers also become acquainted with the prison population.

The following 120 hours of training are conducted at the Staff Training Academy in Glynco, GA.  The four components of this training program entitled Introduction to Correctional Techniques Phase II include:

  • Firearms training
  • Physical abilities
  • Self-defense
  • Policies and procedures

Following this three-week program, new officers are closely supervised during the first year of service.  In subsequent years, correctional officers must complete 16 to 40 hours of additional training each year.

State

The four-week training program for state correctional officers is conducted through Basic Correctional Officer Training.  This program includes courses on:

  • Health and human services
  • Legal procedures
  • Use of force
  • Security and supervision
  • Emergency procedures

Corrections Officer Salary in Georgia

In 2012, it was found by the U.S. Department of Labor and published in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition that the median correctional officer salary in Georgia was $28,480.

Here are the starting and maximum salaries of corrections officers and sergeants in Georgia:

Correctional Officer:

  • Entry Salary: $24,322.01
  • Pay Grade Maximum: $42,643.98

Corrections Sergeant:

  • Entry Salary: $29,399.50
  • Pay Grade Maximum: $51,405.73

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has identified the following salaries among correctional officers throughout Georgia’s cities:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Albany GA
550
28340
Athens-Clarke County GA
120
28420
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta GA
3690
33360
Brunswick GA
140
26730
Columbus GA-AL
510
30270
Gainesville GA
160
33050
Savannah GA
580
28580
Warner Robins GA
140
30530
North Georgia nonmetropolitan area
1160
28480
Middle Georgia nonmetropolitan area
2190
27630
East Georgia nonmetropolitan area
2210
28300
South Georgia nonmetropolitan area
2650
29460

Atlanta, Georgia Corrections Officer Job Description

The Georgia Department of Corrections, Corrections Division, is responsible for overseeing 30 state prisons, 23 county prisons, and 4 private prisons. In addition, the Department of Corrections operates 14 transitional centers and one offender boot camp.

Overall, about 13,000 corrections professionals supervise nearly 60,000 inmates through the Corrections Division. Each year about 20,000 new offenders enter the system, while about 18,000 offenders complete their sentences and return to the community.

Corrections Officer Job Requirements in Atlanta, Georgia

Individuals interested in pursuing correctional officer jobs in Atlanta, Georgia, must first learn of the minimum employment requirements through a corrections officer job description.

Candidates for corrections officer jobs must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Possess a high school diploma or GED
  • Be a United States citizen
  • Have no felony convictions

All applicants for correctional officer jobs in Atlanta must be able to pass the POST Entrance exam to be eligible for employment. The official POST entrance exams include the ASSET exam and the COMPASS exams, both of which are designed to assess a candidate’s reading, writing, and numerical skills.

Upon being hired by the Department of Corrections as a correctional officer, individuals must complete four weeks of basic correctional officer training. Some of the coursework covered during the initial training period includes:

  • Use of Force
  • Health and Human Services
  • Security and Supervision
  • Legal Procedures
  • Emergency Procedures

How to Become a Federal Correctional Officer in Atlanta

Individuals interested in learning how to become a correctional officer may decide to pursue a career at one of the federal correctional institutions throughout the state.

Atlanta is part of the Northern Georgia Judicial District, which is home to the following federal correctional institution:

  • USP (United States Penitentiary) Atlanta:
    • Location: Southeast Atlanta
    • Medium-security facility for male inmates; also includes a detention center and a satellite camp
    • Inmate population: 1,961 (USP, as of May 2013) and 562 (camp, as of May 2013)

Before applying for a federal correctional officer job, individuals must ensure they meet the minimum employment requirements set forth by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Candidates must:

  • No older than 37 years old (unless the applicant has previous civil service federal experience)
  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university

Candidates without the necessary college or university experience may be able to meet the employment requirements by having at least 3 years of experience providing one of the following services:

  • Guidance or counseling
  • Teaching or instructing
  • Selling products or services
  • Managing or supervising
  • Responding to emergency situations

State and County Correctional Facilities in and Around Atlanta

The following state correctional facilities are located near Atlanta, in the Northern Georgia Judicial District:

State Prisons

  • Whitworth
  • Walker
  • Rutledge
  • Phillips
  • Hays
  • GDCP
  • Arrendale

County Prisons

  • Troup County
  • Muscogee County
  • Jackson County
  • Harris County
  • Hall County
  • Gwinnett County
  • Floyd County
  • Coweta County
  • Clarke County
  • Carroll County

Augusta, Georgia Corrections Officer Job Description

Augusta, Georgia, is the third largest city and the second largest metropolitan area in Georgia, with a population of nearly 557,000, as of 2010. It is home to the Augusta State Medical Prison, which is managed by the Georgia Department of Corrections.

The Augusta State Medical Prison is located in Grovetown, which is part of the Augusta metropolitan area. This close-security correctional facility, which was constructed in 1982, has an inmate capacity of 1,326.

The Augusta State Medical Prison provides specialized services to inmates, including centralized acute and specialized medical services, as well as Level 4 mental health services for both male and female offenders. It is also a Sex Offender Release Site and a host facility for the Augusta Transitional Center.

This Georgia State correctional facility features an open dorm of 519 beds, as well as seven nursing units with a security control room, an acute care unit, a crisis stabilization unit, and a fast-track building with 256 beds.

Minimum Requirements for Becoming a State Correctional Officer in Augusta

Individuals who want to become a Georgia State correctional officer at the Augusta State Medical Prison must meet the minimum requirements as set forth by the Georgia Department of Corrections. These include:

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must possess a high school diploma or GED
  • Must be a United States citizen
  • Must have no felony convictions
  • Must successfully meet vision, hearing, and physical ability requirements
  • Must successfully complete the POST Entrance Exam

Candidates must take the POST Entrance Exam prior to applying for a State correctional officer job.

Pre-employment requirements for becoming a Georgia State corrections officer in Augusta State Medical Prison include successfully completing a:

  • Criminal background investigation
  • Pre-employment drug screening
  • Medical examination

All new State correctional officers must complete a Basic Correctional Officer Training program upon being hired by the Georgia Department of Corrections. Subject matter in this basic training program includes:

  • Legal procedures
  • Use of force
  • Health and human services
  • Security and supervision
  • Emergency procedures

Incentive Pay Programs at the Augusta State Medical Prison

The Georgia Department of Corrections encourages its corrections officers to pursue higher education. As such, their education initiative, which is designed for officers without a college degree, is as follows:

  • Corrections officers who complete an associate’s degree within 5 years receive a 3 percent, one-time payment.
  • Corrections officers who complete a bachelor’s degree within 10 years receive a 5 percent, one-time payment.
  • Corrections officers who complete a master’s degree receive a 5 percent, one-time payment.

The DOC also offers the following initiatives:

  • Spanish Initiative: Individuals who speak fluent Spanish may receive a salary that is 10 percent above minimum pay.
  • Military Hiring Initiative: Individuals with a U.S. Armed Forces background (active duty) may be eligible to receive additional pay above the minimum pay.

Jackson, Georgia Corrections Officer Job Description

The Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison (GDCP), which is located in Butts County, Georgia, near Jackson, is the largest prison under the management of the Georgia Department of Corrections. It is also the final home of the state’s capitol offenders on death row.

There are currently 92 men and one woman under death sentence in Georgia, all of which are housed at the GDCP. Since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1973, the State of Georgia executed 54 men at GDCP. All Georgia State court-ordered executions are carried out at the GDCD. Therefore, it holds the Georgia’s only execution chamber. (Georgia carries out its executions by lethal injection.)

How to Become a Georgia State Correctional Officer at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison

Minimum and Education Requirements

Those working to become a Georgia State correctional officer so as to work at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison (GDCP) must meet the minimum requirements for employment and pass the POST Entrance Exam to be considered for employment.

Candidates for corrections officer jobs in Georgia must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a United States citizen
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Possess a high school diploma or GED

Many candidates possess a post-secondary college education to achieve a competitive edge over other candidates. Popular college majors for individuals pursuing Georgia State corrections officer jobs include:

  • Criminal justice
  • Criminology
  • Sociology
  • Public safety
  • Justice administration

Further, the Georgia Department of Corrections has an Education Initiative in place that is designed to provide opportunities for higher education. Individuals without a college degree who meet the following goals receive lump sum payments:

  • Individuals who attain a two-year associate’s degree within 5 years receive a 3 percent lump sum payment.
  • Individuals who attain a four-year bachelor’s degree within 10 years receive a 5 percent lump sum payment.
  • Individuals who achieve a master’s degree (no time limit) receive a 5 percent lump sum payment.

Additional Requirements for Employment

All candidates for correctional officer jobs in Georgia must pass the POST Entrance Exam prior to applying for a correctional officer position.

In addition to meeting the minimum requirements for employment and passing the POST Entrance Exam, candidates for State correctional officer jobs must be able to successfully complete:

  • A criminal background investigation
  • A pre-employment drug screening
  • A complete medical examination

All new recruits must complete a four-week Basic Correctional Officer Training course and another five weeks of job-relevant training. Subject matters covered in basic training include:

  • Health and human services
  • Emergency procedures
  • Security and supervision
  • Use of force
  • Legal procedures

Upon the completion of training, all Georgia State correctional officers are certified as peace officers.

About the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison (GDCP)

The GDCP was constructed in 1968 as a close-security facility. It can house up to 2,487 inmates within its eight cellblocks, eight dormitories, a fast-track unit, and one medical unit. In addition to its death row inmates, the GDCP houses some of the most dangerous inmates in Georgia’s correctional system.

All male offenders in the State are processed through GDCP. Within any given week, this facility processed about 500 offenders and transferred another 400 offenders. The GDCP’s processing is designed to determine the medical, psychological, and educational needs of offenders, as well as their security level. The process, which takes about two weeks, also includes the parole review.

Inmate programs at the GDCP include:

  • Academic (general education diploma, literacy, remedial, adult basic education)
  • Counseling (family violence, programs for mental health offenders, and motivation for change)
  • Recreation
  • Religious activities, services, and pastoral counseling

Macon, Georgia Corrections Officer Job Description

The Georgia Department of Corrections oversees the State’s 30 state prisons, 23 county prisons, and 4 private prisons through its Corrections Division.

The Corrections Division, through its team of 12,097 correctional officers (as of June 2010), is responsible for housing nearly 60,000 inmates through its prisons, 14 transitional centers, and one offender boot camp.

In addition to state, county and private correctional facilities, correctional officers in Georgia may also work through one of the two federal correctional facilities located in the state:

  • Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Jesup
    • Northern Georgia
    • Inmate population (as of May 2013): 1,333
  • United States Penitentiary (USP) Atlanta
    • Southern Georgia
    • Inmate population (as of May 2013): 2,523

How to Become a Correctional Officer in Macon through Training

Individuals who want to attain correctional officer jobs in Macon should first study the corrections officer job requirements, as it likely differs based on whether the position is at the state or federal level:

Federal Corrections Officer Jobs

Individuals interested in learning how to become a federal correctional officer must first determine if they meet the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ minimum employment requirements. Candidates must:

  • Be under the age of 37, unless they have previous experience working for the federal government in a civil service capacity; AND
  • Possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university; OR
  • At least 3 years of experience working in one of the following capacities:
    • Providing guidance or counseling to individuals
    • Managing or supervision individuals
    • Teaching or instructing individuals
    • Selling goods or services to individuals on a commission basis
    • Responding to emergency situations

Individuals may meet the above experience requirements if they worked in one of the following positions: teacher/instructor; counselor; welfare or social worker; probation or parole worker; and manager or supervisor, among others.

State Correctional Officer Jobs

State correctional officer jobs in Macon demand a different set of requirements than federal positions. In particular, candidates must:

  • Be a United States citizen
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Hold a high school diploma or a GED certificate
    • Be able to pass a written exam (POST exam), which assesses an individual’s reading, writing, and numerical comprehension skills (Individuals who have taken the SAT or ACT may be able to use their scores in place of the POST exam.)

Further, all new corrections officers must expect to undergo four weeks of basic officer training in subject matter such as:

  • Health and Human Services
  • Security and Supervision
  • Emergency Procedures
  • Use of Force
  • Legal Procedures

State Corrections in Macon, Georgia

Macon, Georgia, is part of the Central Judicial Region of Georgia, which also encompasses the following state and county correctional facilities:

State Prisons

  • Pulaski
  • Macon
  • Lee
  • Hancock
  • Dooly
  • Central
  • Calhoun
  • Burruss CTC
  • ASMP

County Prisons

  • Terrell County
  • Sumter County
  • Spalding County
  • Richmond County
  • Clayton County

Savannah, Georgia Corrections Officer Job Description

The Georgia Department of Corrections is responsible for overseeing 30 state prisons, throughout which more than 60,000 offenders are housed. Although Georgia is ranked the ninth largest state in the nation, according to population, its prison population is ranked fifth.

For example, as of FY2012, there were 38,940 inmates in Georgia state prisons. The capacity of prisons during this time was just 36,100, thereby making the prison system at 108 percent capacity during FY2012.

As of June 2010, there were 12,669 employees in the Corrections Division, with correctional officers making up 95 percent (12,097) of the workforce.

How to Become a Correctional Officer in Savannah, Georgia

Individuals may seek either state or federal correctional officer jobs in Savannah; however, they must be aware that state correctional officer job requirements are distinctly different from federal correctional officer job requirements:

Federal Correctional Officer Jobs

Individuals who want to learn how to become a federal corrections officer in Savannah must meet the following requirements for employment, as set forth by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Individuals without previous federal civil service experience must be no older than 37 and must possess ONE of the following:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university; OR
  • At least 3 years of experience doing one of the following:
    • Selling in a commissioned-based environment
    • Instructing or teaching individuals
    • Managing or supervising individuals
    • Counseling individuals
    • Responding to emergency situations

State Correctional Officer Jobs

Individuals must meet minimum requirements for state corrections officer jobs as required by the Georgia Department of Corrections. Candidates must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have no prior felony convictions
  • Possess a high school diploma or GED
  • Take and pass the POST Entrance Exam (an assessment of a candidate’s writing, reading, and numerical skills)

Training requirements for new correctional officers include four weeks of basic correctional officer training in such areas as:

  • Security and Supervision
  • Legal Procedures
  • Use of Force
  • Health and Human Services
  • Emergency Procedures

Advanced correctional officer job opportunities, such as warden lieutenants, deputy warden sergeants, and chief of security canine handlers, may be achieved by individuals with more experience or with specialized education or training.

Correctional Facilities in Savannah, Georgia

Savannah is part of the Southern Georgia Judicial System, which encompasses the following federal, state, and county correctional facilities:

Federal Correctional Institution: FCI Jesup

  • Southeast Georgia, 65 miles southwest of Savannah
  • Medium security facility for male inmates
  • Two adjacent satellite facilities: low security institution and a minimum security prison camp
  • Jesup FCI: Inmate population (as of May 2013): 1,168
  • Jesup Camp: Inmates population (as of May 2013): 165

State Correctional Institutions

  • Wilcox
  • Washington
  • Ware
  • Valdosta
  • Telfair
  • Smith
  • Rogers
  • Montgomery
  • Long
  • Johnson
  • GSP
  • Emanuel
  • Dodge
  • Coastal
  • Baldwin
  • Autry

County Correctional Facilities

  • Thomas County
  • Screven County
  • Mitchell County
  • Jefferson County
  • Effingham County
  • Decatur County
  • Colquitt County
  • Bulloch County

Private Correctional Facilities

  • Jenkins
  • Riverbend
  • Coffee
  • Wheeler

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