South Carolina has 28 correctional facilities located throughout the state that are classified under three categories. All of theses institutions operate under the supervision of the South Carolina Department of Corrections:
- The first classification is Level 1, of which there are 11 institutions, which are reserved for offenders that are low-risk, minimum-security threats. Most new corrections officers and cadets will receive on the job training at these types of facilities at the beginning of their correctional officer career.
- The second type of institution is Level 2, which is reserved for medium security offenders. There are 11 Level 2 institutions in South Carolina.
- The highest security institutions are Level 3 and there are six of them in the state.
In addition to the state prisons, there are four federal correctional institutions (FCI) in the state:
- FCI- Edgeville
- FCI- Estill
- FCI- Bennettsville
- FCI- Williamsburg
There are specific training and applicant requirements for federal correctional officer jobs in South Carolina.
Minimum Requirements and Qualifications
Federal Requirements – Those looking at how to become correctional officers with one of the four federal correctional institutions in South Carolina must meet a separate set of requirements and qualifications, including the following:
- Education- Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, or must have at least three years of experience in counseling, supervision, teaching, management or a related field. In order to receive a higher pay level, applicants must have nine semester hours, or 14 quarter hours, of college credit in criminology, criminal justice, the social sciences or a related field of study; or one year of experience in a related career field.
- Age- Applicants may not be older than 37 years of age unless they have previous work experience in federal civilian law enforcement.
State-Level Requirements – In South Carolina, there are two types of positions available to people that wish to become a correctional officer: corrections officer and corrections cadet. Both positions have the same set of requirements and qualifications, the only difference being cadets are between the ages of 18 and 20, while entry level corrections officers are 20 years of age or older. The minimum requirements and qualifications are as follows:
- Must be a United States citizen
- Must have a valid drivers license
- Must have a clean criminal record
- Must have a high school diploma or a GED
The Hiring Process
If an applicant is deemed to be qualified for the correctional officer position, they will then be required to complete the hiring process. The process involves a series of interviews with representatives from the Department of Corrections, a physical agility test, a drug screen, a medical and physical examination and a multiple choice and short written answer exam that is used to judge decision making skills and the ability to handle stress.
Federal Training – Recruits employed by one of the four federal facilities must complete 200 hours of training, 120 of which is specialized training that takes place at the Federal Bureau of Prisons regional training academy in Glynco, Georgia. After the first year of employment, federal officers must complete between 16 and 40 hours of additional training each year.
State Training – In South Carolina, those who are offered a corrections officer job, are required to complete 200 hours of on the job training during their first year of employment. The training is hands on and includes surveillance, search operations and learning how to communicate with offenders that can sometimes be mentally unstable or dangerous. Cadets are required to begin work at a Level 1 facility, while entry-level corrections officers will typically begin at a Level 1 facility and then move on to a higher level corrections institution.
After the first year of employment, both cadets and corrections officers are required to complete an additional 40 hours of training each year that they are employed by the South Carolina Department of Corrections. All employees are required to work 12-hour shifts each day that they work and receive two weekends off each month. In total, corrections officers in South Carolina work 14 days a month.