New Jersey Corrections Officer Job Description

New Jersey is home to two federal correctional facilities; Federal Correctional Institution Fairton is a medium security facility with a minimum security prison camp adjacent to it, and the Federal Correctional Institution at Fort Dix is a low security male facility also with an attached minimum security male prison camp. In the latest population count, FCI Fairton held 1,504 inmates, and FCI Fort Dix housed 4,755 inmates.

The crime rate in New Jersey increased three percent in 2011 as compared to 2010.  In 2011, a non-violent crime occurred every 2 minutes and 46 seconds on average, while violent crimes occurred every 19 minutes and 21 seconds.  Because of this, the New Jersey Department of Corrections supports about 10,000 employees, mostly in correctional officer jobs.

New Jersey has the highest average salary for correctional officers in the country.  It was $69,310 in 2012.

Requirements to Become a Correctional Officer in New Jersey

Federal Bureau of Prisons

The Federal Bureau of Prisons only hires candidates who meet these basic requirements:

  • Are U.S. citizens (some high need facilities may waive this requirement)
  • Are between 20 and 37 years of age
  • Have no felony or serious misdemeanor convictions
  • Have no history of serious financial indebtedness

For candidates to obtain a correctional officer job at the GS-5 level, they must also satisfy these requirements:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree; or
  • Have at least three years of experience in teaching, counseling, management, sales, or emergency response

To enter the BOP at the GS-6 level candidates should possess these qualifications:

  • Have a year of experience in law enforcement, mental health treatment, or corrections; or
  • Have at least nine semester hours of graduate study in law, social science or criminal justice

New Jersey Department of Corrections

The first step to becoming a correctional officer in New Jersey is to apply to take the written examination for prospective correctional officers.  The minimum requirements to apply for correctional officer jobs in New Jersey include:

  • Having a high school or vocational diploma or a GED
  • Being able to read and write fluently in English
  • Being at least 18 years old
  • Having U.S. citizenship
  • Being a resident of New Jersey
  • Possessing a driver’s license that is valid in New Jersey
  • Being eligible to possess a firearm

Disqualifying factors include:

  • Having a poor driving record
    • DUI Convictions (Two or more)
    • Moving violations (Eight or more)
    • Driving while suspended convictions (Two or more within eight years)
    • Convictions for reckless driving (Two or more within eight years)
    • Failing to appear in court (Twice or more within eight years)
  • Having the following convictions:
    • Disorderly offense (within 10 years of application)
    • An offense involving dishonesty
    • Any offense resulting in crime of the 4th degree or higher
    • An offense involving lewdness
    • Domestic violence
    • Possession and/or sale of a controlled substance
    • Having been incarcerated for a conviction

Steps to Becoming a Correctional Officer in New Jersey

Applicants who have been found to be suitable will be contacted to take the written examination to become a correctional officer.  If there are vacancies available, candidates who scored and ranked well on the exam will be notified to report for pre-employment processing.  There are four phases to this process.

Phase 1 and 2:

  • Completing an employment application and paying a fee ($35 in 2013)
  • Undergoing a computer background check
  • Taking a written psychological examination
  • Being fingerprinted
  • Undergoing drug testing by urinalysis

Phase 3 involves a background check including personal interviews and visits to the applicant’s home and/or job.  When positions are available, candidates will be notified to report for Phase 4:  a complete medical exam and an interview with a psychologist.  Candidates who pass this process are appointed as a Correction Officer Apprentice.

Training to Become a Correctional Officer in New Jersey

Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy

Training for new federal correctional officers is a 200 hour program that is split between the assigned correctional facility and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy. The first 80 hours serve as an orientation to the prison, while the remaining 120 hours include classroom and practicum instruction in firearms, self-defense, bus operations, and federal correctional policies and procedures. Depending on location and job assignment, federal correctional officers must receive between 16 and 40 hours of additional training annually.

New Jersey Department of Corrections Training Academy

Correction Officer Apprentices undergo 14 weeks of live-in paid training at the Correctional Staff Training Academy in Sea Girt.  They must complete the 350 hour Basic Course for State Corrections Officers.  The courses taken include:

  • Introduction to:
    • Corrections
    • Criminal law
    • Criminal procedures
    • Firearms and defensive tactics
  • Human relations in the correctional setting
  • Health and wellness in the correction environment
  • Correctional security practices and procedures
  • Report writing

Trainees must score 70% on the written examinations in each of the areas.  They must achieve an 80% score on:

  • The handgun qualification course:  3 consecutive firings
  • Use of force
  • First aid and CPR/ADE

They must score 100% on the 22 performance objectives deemed critical to the position of correctional officer.  Those who succeed in completing this program will be appointed to be a Correction Office Recruit and serve a test period of a year.  After successfully completed this period, they will be designated a senior correction officer.

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