During a typical month, there are between 19,000 and 20,000 inmates in Tennessee prisons. It is the responsibility of corrections officers to supervise the inmates in order to ensure the safety of employees, inmates and the public in general. General tasks include the following:
- Conduct video and first hand surveillance of inmates
- Conduct searches of inmates’ cells
- Give CPR and other basic medical procedures when needed
- Issue clothing and other accommodations to inmates
- Perform basic counseling for inmates and families of inmates
- Attend staff meetings in regards to riot control procedures, first aid training and other special circumstances
- Utilize security cameras, firearms, mace, electric gates and other equipment that may be used while on duty
- Stop violent confrontations
- Perform paperwork in regards to the admittance and release of inmates from the prison
Basic Requirements and Qualifications
Federal Corrections Officer Requirements – There is one federal corrections facility in Tennessee, the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Memphis. In order to become a correctional officer in Tennessee at the federal level, applicants must meet different criteria, which includes the following:
- Must be younger than 37 years of age, unless the applicant has previously worked in federal civilian law enforcement
- Must have a bachelor’s degree or three years of experience in a related career field
State Corrections Officer Requirements – In order to obtain correctional officer jobs in Tennessee, applicants must first meet the minimum qualifications and requirements for the position. Requirements include, but are not limited, to the following:
- Must be at least 18 years of age
- Must have a high school diploma or GED
- Must be able to carry a firearm
- Must be of good moral character
- Must have no criminal record
- Must have a valid drivers license
Applicants who possess an associates degree or a bachelors degree from an accredited university are given preference during the initial hiring process.
Examinations and Other Pre-Training Requirements
In order to be accepted into the correctional officer training academy, potential employees must complete a series of examinations. There is a physical examination and a psychological examination that is performed by a licensed professional in accordance with standards defined by the Americans With Disabilities Act. Applicants must also complete a written examination that is required of all people seeking employment with the state of Tennessee.
Federal Training – Recruits working at FCI- Memphis are required to complete 200 total hours of training, which includes 120 hours of specialized training at a regional Federal Bureau of Prisons training academy.
State Training – Once hired, a recruit must enroll in the Tennessee Correction Academy and graduate before beginning an official correctional officer career in the state. The training consists of 240 hours of training and classes, ranging from CPR certification, to communication techniques and firearms and special weapons handling. The Basic Correction Officer training schedule is six weeks long and should be completed within two weeks of the date of hire.
After the first year of employment, all corrections officers are required to complete 40 hours of additional training and recertification each year that they are employed by the Tennessee Department of Corrections. The additional training varies depending on the correctional institution, but all training criteria is approved by the corrections academy and is fairly consistent throughout all of the state and federal penitentiaries in Tennessee.
State Corrections Officer Salary – Entry level corrections officers in Tennessee are paid around $2,000 per month on average, although it can vary depending on qualifications, previous experience and performance during the hiring and training periods. Employment includes a comprehensive health and life insurance plan, as well as paid leave, vacation and other benefits.
Federal Corrections Officer Salary – Federal officers get paid $39,020 annually on average. Federal employees receive the same benefits and incentives as correctional officers working for state-level correctional institutions.