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Utah Corrections Officer Job Description

Federal correctional officers in Utah may serve at the Community Corrections Management Field Office in Salt Lake City. The responsibilities for correctional officers at this facility may include re-entry services, home detention, adult corrections, juvenile detention or electronic monitoring.

Correctional officers are employed at either one of Utah’s two correctional facilities: the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison and the Utah State Prison in Draper. The State also contracts with 21 counties to house its inmates in spare county jail cells, giving correctional officers the additional chance to be stationed at these participating facilities. After completing a multi-step hiring process and making it through the correctional officer training academy, officers will be prepared to begin their new careers.

The total incarcerated population in state custody in May of 2013 numbered 7,073 inmates, the highest figure reached in the past year, which will continue to grow if the current trend is maintained. In May 2012 there were 2,460 employees working as correctional officers and jailers in Utah, making an average salary of $39,430 annually.

Requirements for Correctional Officer Jobs

Federal Bureau of Prisons

Federal correctional officers who serve in the Federal Bureau of Prisons must meet these basic requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be at least 21 years old but no older than 36
  • Have good moral character without a history of serious criminal infractions
  • Have a financial history without major delinquencies
  • Physically capable of
    • Dragging a 75 pound dummy continuously across 694 feet in under three minutes
    • Climb a ladder and grab an object in seven seconds
    • Run an obstacle course in 58 seconds
    • Climb 108 steps while holding a 20 pound weight belt in under 46 seconds
    • Run a quarter mile and handcuff a target within two minutes and 35 seconds
 

Federal correctional officers may begin their careers at the GS-5 or GS-6 pay levels.  GS-5 eligibility requirements include:

  • Have at least three years of experience in
    • Management
    • Sales
    • Teaching
    • Counseling
    • Emergency response
    • Security; or
  • Have a bachelor’s degree

The requirements for GS-6 pay grade are:

  • Have at least one year of experience in
    • Corrections
    • Detentions
    • Police work
    • Mental illness treatment; or
  • Nine semester hours of graduate study in social science, law or criminology

Utah Department of Corrections

Before filling out an application, candidates interested in learning how to become a correctional officer must meet the position’s minimum qualifications:

  • U.S. citizen with a valid driver’s license
  • Be willing to work any shift from 8-12 hours, at any time, on short notice
  • Have exceptional communication skills and the ability to maintain a controlled, humane environment
  • Have graduated from high school or obtained a GED

Hiring Process

To apply for correctional officer jobs in Utah, candidates should monitor the State’s job vacancy postings for any correctional positions. Applications can be made online through a Department of Workforce Services account or with a candidate’s existing Google, Yahoo, or Facebook account.

After completing an application, candidates who are chosen for further scrutiny will be invited for an interview and may continue in the hiring process with a criminal history and background check, psychological test, and finally corrections training in association with the Police Officers Standards and Training (POST) association.

Corrections Training

Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy

New federal correctional officers must complete 200 hours of pre-service training.  An 80 hour orientation held at the assigned facility is followed by a three week program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy in Glynco, GA.  There new officers will learn

  • Witness security
  • Self-defense
  • Firearms
  • Bus operations
  • Policies and procedures

The Corrections Training Division works with the Department of Public Safety’s POST agency to develop a comprehensive and thorough training program for all new corrections trainees. Before being admitted to the training program, correctional officer trainees must pass an entrance exam that costs $25.00 and is offered at several approved locations throughout the state. Officers must also pass a physical fitness test that includes events in:

  • Vertical jump
  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • 1.5-mile run

After graduating from the corrections academy, officers will be ready to begin their new careers under supervision in a facility-specific on-the-job training program that varies in length depending on the corrections institution.

Corrections Officer Salary in Utah

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics found the average Utah – UT correctional officer salary to be $39,430. For those in the top ten percent, the average was almost 20% higher at $49,130.

The Utah Department of Human Resource Management details these salaries among the various corrections occupations in Utah:

Correctional Officer, POST:

  • Minimum: $26,894.40
  • Maximum: $47,528

Correctional Sergeant, POST:

  • Minimum: $33,425.60
  • Maximum: $52,977.60

Correctional Lieutenant, POST:

  • Minimum: $37,211.20
  • Maximum: $59,051.20

Correctional Captain, POST:

  • Minimum: $41,496
  • Maximum: $65,832

Here are some of the salaries of corrections officers in Utah, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Ogden-Clearfield UT
290
41860
Provo-Orem UT
180
40780
Salt Lake City UT
1300
39540
West Central Utah nonmetropolitan area
380
38970
South Western Utah nonmetropolitan area
100
37440
Eastern Utah nonmetropolitan area
80
36480

Gunnison , Texas Corrections Officer Job Description

Gunnison, Utah is home to the second of two Utah state prisons, Gunnison Prison (Central Utah Correctional Facility (CUCF)).  Founded in 1990, Gunnison Prison can hold up to 1,600 male inmates.  In 2011, CUCF held 1,544 inmates.  This prison is comprised of eight facilities:

  • Aspen—This unit holds up to 192 inmates, and includes a recreation yard, school and treatment programs.
  • Birch—A 192 inmate unit, Birch is reserved for older inmates.
  • Cedar—There is a mixed population of well-behaved inmates and maximum security prisoners seeking transition to medium security in this 192 capacity unit
  • Dogwood—This 89 offender unit is reserved for inmates with mental health issues
  • Elm—This unit houses up to 192 inmates from general population as well as gang affiliated prisoners
  • Fir—This substance abuse treatment unit holds up to 48 inmates
  • Gale—This 288 bed unit houses the Success Through Responsibility, Integrity, Values and Effort program, which provides educational and vocational training
  • Hickory—This unit may hold up to 192 maximum security inmates

The CUCF hosts the Wild Horse and Burro Program, which is a collaborative effort between the Utah Department of Corrections and the Bureau of Land Management.  This program uses prison labor to train wild horses that are then adopted by local residents.

In 2011, CUCF held 1,544 inmates.  Nearly 67 percent of this population were Caucasian, while 19.13 percent were Hispanic.  African Americans constituted 6.24 percent of the prison population, while Native Americans were 4.11 percent of the population.

Requirements and Training for Correctional Officers in Gunnison, Utah

Basic Requirements – The Utah Department of Corrections only hires applicants for correctional officer jobs who meet the following requirements:

  • Must have a high school diploma or GED
  • Must be 21 years of age or older
  • Must be U.S. citizen
  • Must have valid driver’s license
  • Possession of good moral character
  • No felony convictions

POST Certification – All correctional officers are peace officers in Utah, and must therefore meet the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training requirements, including ability to own and carry firearms.  Prior to enrolling in the POST Training Academy, applicants must successfully pass a written basic skills test that assesses reading, writing, and math skills, as well as a physical fitness test that includes the following components:

  • Vertical jump
  • Sit ups
  • Push ups
  • 1.5 mile run

Training – New officers must enroll in a five week Special Function Officer training program followed by a ten week Basic Correctional Officer program.  Instruction that will teach new hires how to become correctional officers in Gunnison will be provided in the following topics:

  • Human behavior in corrections settings
  • Introduction to criminal justice, law enforcement and corrections
  • Procedural legal issues
  • Written and oral communication
  • Human relations and special populations
  • Investigative issues
  • Advanced security tactics

Following academy training, Utah correctional officers must serve for 18 months as probationary correctional officers, during which they will be closely supervised by senior officers.  After the first year, officers must obtain at least 40 hours of training annually, to maintain POST certification.

Salt Lake City, Utah Corrections Officer Job Description

Corrections officers may also work in the Salt Lake County Jail, which is operated by the Sheriff’s office.  There is some housing of county prisoners in the Utah State Prison, in an effort to limit vacant cells at the state facility. This metro jail facility has a maximum capacity of 311 offenders.

The Salt Lake County Jail has been instrumental in rehabilitating offenders. In 2010, the Adult Education programs at the jail awarded 74 participants with high school diplomas and 44 participants with GEDs.  The Alcoholics Anonymous program offered 936 sessions with almost 6,500 participants.  The Life Skills program had 195 participants with 53 job referrals leading to 31 placements.

How to Become a Correctional Officer in Salt Lake City, Utah

Utah Department of Corrections

In order to serve as a correctional officer with the Utah Department of Corrections, candidates should meet the following requirements:

  • Be a high school graduate or equivalent
  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Possess a valid driver’s license

New correctional officers must attend the Basic Training program at the Utah Corrections Academy.  The curriculum utilized at the academy is derived from the Peace Officer Standards and Training Council.

Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office

The Salt Lake County Sheriff’s office hires correctional officers. Applicants should have similar qualifications as state correctional officers.  Once hired, new officers must complete a 12 week training program at the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Academy.  This training will include instruction in

  • Ethical leadership skills
  • Federal and state laws
  • Physical fitness
  • Defensive tactics
  • Verbal communication skills

Following academy training, new officers must enroll in Corrections Training Officer program, which partners new officers with veteran correctional officials.  POST certification must be renewed annually through additional training and firearms re-qualification.

Utah Department of Corrections

The Utah Department of Corrections operates the Utah State Prison in Draper.  This prison has a maximum capacity of 4,500 males and consists of eight units:

  • Wasatch—The oldest unit can house 800 medium security prisoners, the infirmary, chapel and gymnasium.
  • Oquirrh—This unit can house 850 prisoners.  There is a chapel, Native American sweat lodge, outdoor recreation yard and geriatric housing unit for aging, infirm or physically challenged inmates.
  • Timpanogos—This female unit may house up to 570 inmates. There is a Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program available to inmates.  There is a gymnasium, outdoor recreation yard and cafeteria in this unit.
  • Olympus—This unit is reserved for inmates with serious psychiatric issues and may house up to 230 inmates.
  • Uinta—This is a maximum security facility and can house up to 800 inmates.
  • Promontory—This unit houses inmates participating in the Substance Abuse Treatment program.
  • Lone Peak—This unit is the other geriatric unit and can house up to 55 inmates.
  • Special Services Dormitory—This unit houses sex offenders who are restricted from some types of materials and services.

Utah County, Utah Corrections Officer Job Description

Located in Spanish Fork, the Utah County Jail serves as a temporary home for those convicted of crimes in Provo, Orem, or any other localities within the Utah County limits. The Utah County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Bureau is tasked with the responsibility of maintaining a safe and humane incarceration experience at the county jail, while also providing a structured and rehabilitative environment for the inmates.

Known specifically as Corrections Specialists, correctional officers at the jail are the backbone of security and structure that allow programs such as these to operate:

  • GED and high school diploma classes
  • Life skills improvement classes
  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • County Health Department’s drug treatment program
  • LDS 12-step drug rehab program
  • Jail Industries Program

Candidates interested in learning how to become a correctional officer in Utah County will find that corrections can provide a stable income with opportunities for promotion.

Planning for Success with Corrections in Utah County

When considering the minimum qualifications for correctional officer jobs in Utah County, candidates can benefit from looking at the bigger picture at the same time. Education can be instrumental in long-term job growth and stability, not to mention a strong attribute during initial consideration for hire. Applicants can qualify for advanced correctional officer jobs with a bachelor degree in areas including or related to:

  • Sociology
  • Criminal Justice
  • Communications
  • Social Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Education

An associate degree in any of these fields combined with two years of certified work experience in the corrections field is also qualifying for advanced positions.

Minimum Requirements – The minimum hiring requirements for entry-level correctional officer jobs at the Utah County Jail are:

  • High school diploma or its equivalent
  • Candidates must have passed the Police Officer Selection Test (POST Entrance Exam)
  • Be a US citizen at least 21 years of age
  • Be in good shape and able to complete a physical agility test that consists of:
    • Vertical jump
    • Sit-ups
    • Push-ups
    • 1.5-mile run

CO Training in Utah County – Correctional officer training in Utah County takes place in two segments. Once a new correctional officer has been hired by the sheriff’s department, he or she will begin a probationary period. During this time the new CO will need to complete a Utah POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training)-approved training academy. All correctional officers in Utah must be POST-certified. Training will include:

  • Inmate searches
  • Cell searches
  • Prison psychology
  • Emergency situations and evacuations
  • Lockdown and hostage situations
  • Special response teams
  • Emergency medical procedures

New COs will also have an extensive orientation process and on-the-job training once they begin working at Utah County Jail. This will ensure that the new CO can prudently apply general POST training to specific situations at the Utah County Jail.

Applying with Utah County – Prospective correctional officer candidates will need to monitor UtahCounty.gov for any openings for Corrections Specialist I positions. Applicants should follow the instructions in the job announcement, and will need to fill out a Utah County Employment Application. Completed applications are only accepted by email or fax, and must be sent to the Utah County Personnel Office by the closing date.

Weber County, Utah Corrections Officer Job Description

Acting as part of one of the fastest growing law enforcement sectors in the country, the Weber County Sheriff’s Office maintains two correctional facilities in Ogden which house inmates sentenced for crimes committed throughout the county:

  • 12th Street facility, which houses inmates convicted for more serious offenses
  • Kiesel Avenue Facility, which houses:
    • Community service inmates
    • Weekenders
    • Work release inmates

Altogether the Weber County Correctional Facility has 2,076 beds and currently houses around 900 inmates. 220 corrections staff members – including correctional officers – manage this facility, which sees approximately 15,000 bookings every year.

Prospective applicants who would like to learn more about how to become a correctional officer in Weber County can begin by taking a look at the hiring qualifications.

Initial Qualifications to Work as a Weber County Corrections Officer

Because all correctional officers in Utah must be POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training)-certified, applicants with the Weber County Sheriff’s Office must meet both POST and sheriff office requirements:

  • US citizen
  • At least 21 years of age
  • High school graduate or equivalent
  • No criminal convictions which could warrant imprisonment anywhere in the United States
  • Be able to pass a drug screening
  • Have some knowledge of modern law enforcement

A strong way of demonstrating knowledge of modern law enforcement is through a degree in a related area, such as Criminal Justice or Law Enforcement. A degree can do several things for a correctional officer candidate:

  • Demonstrate commitment and follow-through
  • Improve career mobility and promotional opportunities
  • Provide a sturdy foundation on which to build

Applying with the Weber County Sheriff’s Office

Although correctional officer jobs in Weber County are under the sheriff’s office, initial applications are made through the Weber County Human Resources Office. This involves filling out an application when there is an opening for a correctional officer position, which will be posted on the HR job vacancy website. Applicants should follow all the instructions contained within the job announcement and return completed applications to the HR office in Ogden in person or by fax or mail.

Training for Jobs at Weber County Correctional Facility

Correctional officer training takes place in two segments- first a general correctional officer training academy which is managed by the Utah Department of Safety for POST certification. This will take 12 weeks, with all attendance arrangements being made by Weber County on behalf of the new correctional officer. This will introduce the basics in corrections, including:

  • Inmate and cell search
  • Prison psychology
  • Accurate paperwork completion
  • Emergency procedures:
    • Natural disaster
    • Medical emergency
    • Inmate population control
    • Terrorist event
    • Hostage situation

Following POST certification will be a field training and probationary period at the Weber County Correctional Facility. This will introduce new correctional officers to the specifics of their new duties as part of Utah’s criminal justice system.

Impact at the Weber County Correctional Facility

Correctional officers who are a part of the Weber County Correctional Facility Team provide a stable and controlled environment which allows inmates the greatest opportunities for rehabilitation through programs such as:

  • Work programs
  • Structured recreation programs
  • Inmate library
  • GED and high school graduation program
  • Computer classes
  • Abuse prevention classes
  • Religious classes
  • Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous
  • English as a Second Language instruction

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