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Corrections Officer Job Description in South Carolina

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.

Training

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.

Corrections Officer Salary in South Carolina

The Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition, which is published by the Department of Labor, reported that the average South Carolina correctional officer salary was $31,870, an average of $15.32 per hour.

In the Rock Hill area, nearby Charlotte and Gastonia, the average among corrections officers was $34,970, almost 9% above the statewide average.

In South Carolina, the salary structure for correctional officers is based on the type of correctional facility in which they work and its level of security:

Correctional Officer – Level I Institutions:

  • Starting: $25,060
  • After 6 Months: $26,068
  • After 12 Months: $26,850
  • After 18 Months: $27,387

Correctional Officer – Level II Institutions:

  • Starting: $26,062
  • After 6 Months: $27,070
  • After 12 Months: $28,106
  • After 18 Months: $28,919
  • After 24 Months: $29,477

Correctional Officer – Level III Institutions:

  • Starting: $27,064
  • After 6 Months: $28,072
  • After 12 Months: $29,108
  • After 18 Months: $29,921
  • After 24 Months: $30,479

The following data represents correctional officer salaries throughout South Carolina, as provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville SC
800
31800
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill NC-SC
2230
34970
Columbia SC
2010
29830
Florence SC
170
28710
Greenville-Mauldin-Easley SC
530
32330
Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach SC
190
27700
Upper Savannah South Carolina nonmetropolitan area
680
29310
Pee Dee South Carolina nonmetropolitan area
1010
31660
Lower Savannah South Carolina nonmetropolitan area
320
28250

Columbia, South Carolina Corrections Officer Job Description

As the largest city in the state, Columbia serves as the main headquarters for all correctional facility operations in South Carolina. The Department of Corrections’ main office is located in Columbia, as is the following eight correctional facilities:

  • Broad River Correctional Institution
  • Campbell Pre- Release Center
  • Manning Correctional Institution
  • Goodman Correctional Institution
  • Graham (Camille Griffin) Correctional Institution
  • Stevenson Correctional Institution
  • Kirkland Reception and Evaluation Center
  • Walden Correctional Institution

As of 2012, there were more than 2,000 inmates housed in the state corrections facilities located in Columbia, which includes both men and women in all security levels (minimum, medium and maximum.) The South Carolina Department of Corrections supports jobs for more than 500 correctional officers who supervise the inmates in the eight facilities combined.

Minimum Requirements and Qualifications

In order to be considered for a corrections officer job in South Carolina, applicants must meet the following minimum requirements and qualifications:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age (for cadets) and 21 years of age (for officers)
  • Must have at least a high school diploma, GED or equivalent level of education
  • Must have a clean criminal record
  • Must possess a valid drivers license
  • Must be a United States citizen
  • Must be in good physical and mental condition

Applicants with a bachelor’s degree in a related field of study, volunteer, work or internship experience or military experience are given preference during the application and hiring process. Also, applicants that are fluent in Spanish are also given special consideration during the initial stages of hiring.

Hiring Process

During the hiring process, applicants must complete a Civil Service Examination, which is a written test that consists of multiple choice, true/ false, short answer and essay questions. The exam is used to determine basic comprehension of language, communication skills and the ability to follow directions accurately.

Applicants are then required to complete a physical fitness test, a medical and psychological examination, a drug screen, an interview with the Department of Corrections Board of Directors and a criminal background check.

Training Academy

Recruits in South Carolina are required to attend and complete a one-week long, 40 hour orientation program to learn how to become correctional officers. The orientation introduces cadets and recruits to the basic procedures practiced by the state’s correctional institutions. After the orientation, the entry-level employees must complete 172 hours of training at the academy within the first year of being hired.

Through training, officers will learn defensive tactics, safety procedures, riot control, weapons and chemical agents handling, CPR, First Aid, emergency crisis management and a host of other techniques and procedures as recognized by the American Correctional Association.

After completion of the five-week long training academy, officers will receive their Correctional Officer Certification, in accordance with the requirements set forth by the Certified Law Enforcement Executive (CLEE) department.

After the first year of employment, officers are required to complete 40 hours of training every year that they are employed with the Department of Corrections.

Edgefield County, South Carolina Corrections Officer Job Description

South Carolina has four federal correctional facilities, one of which is the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Edgefield. FCI- Edgefield is located about 25 miles north of the state border between South Carolina and Georgia and is a medium security facility for male inmates only. The correctional institution is one of the largest in the state, with an inmate population of 1,152, and is one of the few facilities that is operating at full capacity.

The facility also has an adjacent camp, which is for minimum security inmates, that has a total population of 512 inmates. In total, the FCI- Edgefield facility supports 333 correctional officer and administrative staff jobs in the county, which makes it one of the largest employers of correctional officers in the state.

Hiring Process for Corrections Officers in Edgefield County

In order to obtain a correctional officer position in Edgefield County, applicants must complete the following steps:

Education Requirements – In order to become a correctional officer eligible for an entry-level position in Edgefield County, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. The education requirement can be bypassed if an applicant has three years or more experience if the experience relates to one of the following skill sets:

  • Assistance, guidance and direction of individuals
  • Counseling
  • Emergency response
  • Supervisory or managerial experience
  • Teaching and instructing
  • Persuasive commissioned sales

Other fields closely related to the above skill sets can also qualify for experience requirements.

Special Qualifications – Applicants with 9 semester hours, or 14 quarterly hours, of college education in the criminology, criminal justice, the social sciences or a related field of study are eligible to receive a pay upgrade upon completion of the training academy. Also, those with at least one year of work experience in a related field, or military experience, are eligible for the pay upgrade and are given preference over other applicants during the initial hiring steps.

Age Requirement – All applicants must be at least 18 years of age, and no older than 37 to apply for a corrections officer job at FCI- Edgefield, unless they have previously worked in federal civilian law enforcement.

Training – All federal corrections officers must complete 200 hours of training at a Federal Bureau of Prisons residential training academy. Through training, recruits will learn defensive tactics, communication skills, departmental procedures and a plethora of other skills needed in order to complete the job successfully. Corrections officers will also receive certification in a variety of fields, including First Aid, CPR and weapons handling. Additional training is required after the first year of employment as well in order to keep up with new procedures, regulations and practices on the federal and state levels.

Hampton County, South Carolina Corrections Officer Job Description

The small of town of Estill, tucked away in rural Hampton County, houses the southernmost federal penitentiary in the state: the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Estill. The main facility of the institution has an inmate population of 964 and is the only federal correctional facility (out of four in the state) that operates over capacity. The capacity is 763, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. There is also a satellite camp adjacent to the main facility, which houses an additional 256 low-security risk inmates. The total inmate population makes FCI- Estill the second-largest federal correctional facility in South Carolina in terms of employees, as it supports 313 correctional officer and administrative staff jobs.

Corrections officers make up the largest portion of the federal corrections workforce. These officers are responsible for supervising the day-to-day activities of inmates, which includes conducting surveillance of the inmates, searching jail cells, transporting inmates and ensuring the safety of those in jail, the employees and the public at large. According to the United State Bureau of Labor Statistics, corrections officer jobs are projected to increase by at least five percent through 2020, which means there will always be a demand for officers on both the state and federal levels.

Education, Experience and Age Requirements for Correctional Officer Jobs

In order to become a corrections officer in South Carolina, applicants must meet basic requirements and qualifications, as outlined by the American Correctional Association:

  • Applicants are required to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, or have at least three years of related work experience in management, emergency crisis handling, counseling, teaching, security or a similar career field.
  • Applicants must also be at least 18 years of age and no older than 37 years of age, unless they have been working in the federal civilian law enforcement field prior to applying for the correctional officer position.

Training Academy

Upon completing the application and hiring process, new hires are required to enroll in the Federal Bureau of Prisons Training Academy to learn how to become correctional officers. On the federal level, officers are required to complete 200 hours of training.

Through training, correctional officer recruits will learn:

  • Defensive tactics
  • Weapons handling
  • Emergency crisis management
  • Communication skills
  • A host of other procedures, practices and techniques

After completion of the training academy, entry level correctional officers will receive on-the-job training under the supervision of a veteran corrections officer. The in-service training will focus on the day-to-day activities required of an officer and will acquaint the officer with the FCI- Estill facility and adjacent camp.

Safety is a big priority, as the federal facility has experienced inmate riots over the years, including an incident in 2011 in which nearly 60 inmates were treated for injuries due to a large-scale fight that broke out in the work yard area of the facility.

Marlboro County, South Carolina Corrections Officer Job Description

In South Carolina there are four federal penitentiaries and 23 state correctional facilities. One of the four federal correctional facilities is the Federal Correctional Institute in Bennettsville (also known as FCI- Bennettsville,) and is located in Marlboro County in the southeastern corner of the state. FCI Bennettsville has an inmate population of 1,620 and operates as a medium security facility. There are no state correctional facilities in Marlboro County. FCI Bennettsville operates under the supervision of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, correctional officer positions in the country are projected to grow by five percent through the year 2020. While the projection is considered lower than average when compared to other industries around the country, the fact that it is growing at all in a tough economic climate can bode well for anyone looking to join the field.

Steps To Becoming a Correctional Officer in Marlboro County

Education Requirements – Applicants must have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university in order to be considered for federal correctional officer jobs in Marlboro County. Three years of applicable work experience in a related field can be substituted for educational requirements. It is preferred that the work experience be in a field related to assisting others, counseling or supervision.

In order to qualify for the higher GS-06 pay grade, an applicant must have at least nine semester, or 14 quarter, hours of graduate study in criminal justice, criminology, social science or a closely related field; or one year of full-time work, volunteer or internship experience in a field closely related to the skills necessary to work as a correctional officer.

Age Requirements – Applicants must be under 37 years of age by the time of employment, unless they have worked in federal civilian law enforcement prior to applying for the federal corrections officer position.

Training – All federal officer training is done according to the guidelines of the American Correctional Association (ACA.) Entry-level federal recruits must complete 200 hours of comprehensive training to learn how to become correctional officers, which includes 120 hours of training at the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons Residential Training Center.

During training, corrections officers will learn crisis management skills, defensive tactics, departmental procedures, report writing, firearms and chemical agents handling, communication skills and surveillance and search techniques. During training at the academy, corrections officers will also receive certification in firearms and chemical agents handling, First Aid and CPR, among other certifications and skills.

Once placed at the FCI Bennettsville correctional facility, entry-level officers will complete intensive on-the-job training and may be required to complete additional training after the first year of employment in South Carolina.

Williamsburg, South Carolina Corrections Officer Job Description

Williamsburg County is a largely rural area in the eastern-central area of the state. All of the correctional officer positions in the county are located at the Federal Correctional Institution Williamsburg (also known as FCI-Williamsburg), which is located in the small town of Salters. The inmate population at the correctional institution is 1,614 as of 2012, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. All operations at FCI-Williamsburg operate under the supervision of the United States Department of Justice.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, correctional officer job are expected to grow by about five percent through the year 2020. While the projected growth is considered slower than average, it is still promising that demand is still growing throughout a harsh economic climate. As one of of four federal correctional institutions in the state, FCI-Williamsburg has a higher availability of corrections officer jobs than many other areas in the country.

Minimum Requirements and Qualifications for Correctional Officer Positions

In order to obtain a job at FCI-Williamsburg, applicants must meet a set of standard requirements and qualifications, as addressed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Some of the requirements are as follows:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age and no older than 37 years of age (unless the applicant has prior experience in federal civilian law enforcement)
  • Must have a bachelor’s degree or three years of equivalent work, volunteer, internship or military experience
  • Must be a United States citizen
  • Must have a valid drivers license
  • Must have a clean criminal background free of charges related to violence, obstruction of justice or drug use

Other Requirements: In order to qualify for a higher pay grade, an applicant should have at least nine semester hours, or 14 quarter hours of college study in criminal justice, criminology, the social sciences or other related fields of study; or 1 year of work experience related to assisting others, supervision or other related career, volunteer, military or internship experience.

Training Academy

Those seeking a federal corrections position in Salters, South Carolina at FCI-Williamsburg, are required to complete 200 hours of training. One hundred and twenty of the training hours must be completed at the residential Federal Bureau of Prisons Training Academy. The rest of the training will be completed at the South Carolina Department of Corrections training facility. Training includes communication skills, defensive tactics, weapons and special chemical agent handling, emergency crisis management, riot control, search and seizure procedures, surveillance and departmental procedures and report writing, among many other skills, procedures and techniques. Corrections officers will also receive various certifications, including First Aid, CPR and firearms certification. Officers must also complete on-the-job training at FCI-Williamsburg, and may also be required to complete additional training each and every year that they are employed with the department.

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