Corrections Officer Jobs in Pennsylvania

Correctional officers in the employ of the Federal Bureau of Prisons serve in the many federal facilities found in Pennsylvania.  These include:

  • Federal Correctional Institution at Loretto—low security facility housing 1,466 males
  • Federal Correctional Institution at Schuylkill—medium security facility housing 1,565 male inmates
  • Federal Correctional Institution at McKean—medium security facility housing 1,478 male inmates
  • U.S. Penitentiary at Lewisburg—high security facility that currently holds 1,206 males
  • U.S. Penitentiary at Canaan—high security facility with a population of 1,329 males
  • Federal Correctional Complex at Allenwood is comprised of
    • Federal Correctional Institution Low with 1,291 male inmates
    • Federal Correctional Institution Medium with 1,310 male inmates
    • U.S. Penitentiary—high security custody of 1,066 male prisoners
  • Federal Detention Center at Philadelphia—houses males and females awaiting trial; last count was 1,076

It is the responsibility of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to supervise the operations of 26 correctional facilities in the state, which house more than 17,000 inmates as of 2011. The largest correctional facilities are located in Philadelphia (more than 4,000 inmates,) Allegheny (more than 1,300 inmates,) and Dauphin (more than 700 inmates.)

All correctional officer job applicants in Pennsylvania are hired on as trainees during the first year of employment, and then become full-time employees of the Department of Corrections after successfully completing the training period. During this time, corrections officer trainees attend classes and workshops and perform on-the-job training with correctional officer veterans in order to learn the skills necessary to do the job properly.

Aspects of the job that require training include how to perform searches of inmates and their living spaces, how to conduct video surveillance, how to defuse dangerous situations and how to operate firearms in close quarters.

Education Requirements and Special Considerations During the Hiring Process

Federal Correctional Officer Requirements

Federal correctional officers must possess these pre-requisites to serve as GS-5 pay level employees:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have a bachelor’s degree or three years of experience in teaching, counseling, management, emergency response or sales
  • Have no disqualifying criminal convictions
  • Have a good financial history
  • Be between 20 and 37 years of age

Federal correctional officers who begin their careers at the GS-6 pay level must also satisfy these requirements:

  • Have completed at least 9 semester hours of graduate study in law, criminal justice or social science; or
  • Have at least one year of experience in local, state or federal law enforcement, mental health care, or corrections

Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

All applicants must have a high school diploma or a state-issued GED certificate from Pennsylvania. Those who have a GED from another state must seek certification from the state of Pennsylvania upon being hired by the Department of Corrections. All applicants must also be at least 19 years of age when hired on to be a corrections officer.

The state of Pennsylvania has a special program in place that gives veterans preference over other applicants during the hiring process. Also, females are given special preference when applying for positions with one of the two female correctional facilities in the state, although males can also apply and work at theses facilities and females can apply and work at the all-male facilities as well.

Training Academy

Federal Correctional Officer Training

New federal correctional officers must undergo 80 hours of orientation at their assigned correctional facility.  They must also attend a 120 hour training program held at the Staff Training Academy in Glynco, GA.  This program will teach recruits about

  • Firearms
  • Marksmanship
  • Self-defense
  • Procedures and policies
  • Bus operations
  • Witness security

Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

Once being offered a conditional offer of employment, corrections officers are required to attend the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Training Academy located in Elizabethtown. The training academy consists of a 4-week long basic course section followed by a Corrections Officer Examination administered by the State Civil Service Administration.

The tests is a written exam that consists of questions concerning judgment and problem solving skills; observation; the ability to follow oral instructions, rules and regulations; following written instructions and being able to express oneself clearly and succinctly in stressful situations.

After the training academy, corrections officers must then complete a medical examination, a physical agility test, a criminal background check, a psychological exam and a drug screen before beginning on-the-job training at a correctional institution in the state.

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