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Vermont Corrections Officer Job Description

The Vermont Department of Corrections offers a reform system that believes in human development and rehabilitation. The department is one of the largest in the state and offers many chances for promotions and career advancement. Job placement can land applicants in locations throughout the state in cities and facilities such as:

  • Burlington: Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility
  • Rutland: Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility
  • Swanton: Northwest State Correctional Facility
  • St. Johnsbury: Northeast Regional Correctional Facility
  • Windsor: Southeast State Correctional Facility
  • Newport: Northern State Correctional Facility
  • Springfield: Southern State Correctional Facility

Getting Started

Working as a correctional officer starts with an intensive training course and a selective application process. To start the ball rolling towards this goal, candidates can search the state human resources department’s vacancy postings for correctional officer positions and begin the application process by creating an online account. There is also an online application guide for candidates who need some additional assistance with the online process.

Candidates should also be aware of the minimum qualifications needed to become a correctional officer. These include:

  • Having a valid driver’s license and either a high school diploma or GED
  • Two years of at least one of the following:
    • Full-time work experience
    • College education
    • Military service
  • Have good basic senses and ambulatory abilities
    • No significant criminal or traffic violation records
  • Ability to wear protective gear and perform evacuation and search and rescue operations
  • No signification hearing, vision, or motor-skills problems

Correctional Officer Training in Vermont

After completing the hiring process that includes a medical check, psychological evaluation, and drug test, new recruits will be ready to begin their next step. Vermont correctional officers complete an extensive training program as part of their employment conditions. Lasting a total of eight weeks, it begins with one week of observation at the trainee’s home correctional facility, and examines an officer’s roles and duties.

This is followed by a five-week resident instructional program in Waterbury at the Department of Corrections Training Center, where officers will learn how to become proficient in:

  • Restraint and self-defense techniques
  • State law and correctional procedures
  • Inmate psychology and sociology
  • Facility emergency procedures
  • First aid and CPR

Officers will be evaluated throughout their training and must maintain an average test score of 80 percent or higher. Tests will cover classroom material as well as the physical ability to perform job-related tasks. After graduating, officers will complete 80 hours of supervised on-site training in their home correctional facility.

On a typical day in Vermont’s corrections facilities, about 55 percent of the inmate population are violent felons. However, correctional officers are well prepared thanks to their training and preparation. The annual average salary for a correctional officer and jailer in Vermont was $37,140 as of May 2012.

Corrections Officer Salary in Vermont

According to the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition, the average correctional officer salary in Vermont was $37,140 during 2012. Correctional officers in the 90th percentile were noted to average close to 19% more at $45,680.

In Vermont, correctional officers are paid on 15-step salary schedule, according to the Vermont Department of Human Resources:

Correctional Officer I:

  • Step 1: $32,739.20
  • Step 2: $34,153.60
  • Step 3: $35,360
  • Step 4: $36,524.80
  • Step 5: $37,731.20
  • Step 15 (Maximum): $50,585.60

Correctional Officer II:

  • Step 1: $36,296
  • Step 2: $37,918.40
  • Step 3: $39,312
  • Step 4: $40,580.80
  • Step 5: $42,016
  • Step 15 (Maximum): $56,409.60

Correctional Facility Shift Supervisor:

  • Step 1: $40,497.60
  • Step 2: $42,411.20
  • Step 3: $43,971.20
  • Step 4: $45,406.40
  • Step 5: $46,904
  • Step 15 (Maximum): $63,232

Correctional Security and Operations Supervisor:

  • Step 1: $45,448
  • Step 2: $47,652.80
  • Step 3: $49,379.20
  • Step 4: $50,980.80
  • Step 5: $52,707.20
  • Step 15 (Maximum): $71,094.40

Per the Department of Labor, the following are some of the correctional officer salaries within Vermont:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Burlington-South Burlington VT
100
35900
Southern Vermont nonmetropolitan area
210
37460
Northern Vermont nonmetropolitan area
230
37390

Burlington , Vermont Corrections Officer Job Description

Burlington is home to the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility, which houses almost 150 female prisoners.  Chittenden County Jail, also located in Burlington, manages detention of offenders under arrest and awaiting trial.  The Chittenden County Sheriff’s Department operates the Chittenden County Jail while the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility is run by the Vermont Department of Corrections.

Among Burlington residents, 112 were sentenced to incarceration within jails, while 30 were under detention in jail awaiting trial. Another 706 were incarcerated in state correctional facilities or in out-of-state prisons.  Of the seven state prisons in Vermont, none hold more than 400 inmates; Vermont usually transfers healthy inmates to out-of-state prisons, where it is cheaper. Only inmates with serious medical issues remain in Vermont facilities. Due to the small number of offenders housed in state facilities, the Vermont DOC employs only 600 correctional officers.

Requirements for Correctional Officers in Burlington, Vermont

Correctional officers jobs in Burlington with the Vermont Department of Corrections start at an annual salary of $29,120.  Applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Possession of high school diploma or GED and one of the following
    • Two years of college course work
    • Two years of military service
    • Two years of professional work experience
    • Possession of a valid driver’s license
    • Near normal vision and hearing
    • Ability to wear and use self-contained breathing apparatus
    • Ability to pass criminal record check

New officers must complete the eight-week training program to effectively learn how to become a correctional officer in Burlington.  The first week occurs at the assigned correctional facility and provides an introduction to role and responsibilities of correctional officers.  This is followed by five weeks of training at the Vermont Department of Corrections’ Training Center.  This portion of training provides core concepts, principles and skills utilized by corrections officers. Topics covered during academy training include

  • Medical and mental health
  • Legal issues
  • Key control
  • Radio procedures
  • Report writing
  • First aid
  • Blood borne pathogens
  • Interpersonal communication

Upon graduation from the academy, recruits must complete 80 hours of in-service training under the supervision of senior staff at their assigned prison facility.

Vermont’s Progressive Incarceration System

Vermont is one of the most progressive governments in the country with regards to prisoner rehabilitation.  The Vermont DOC offers a wide variety of rehabilitative programs including

  • Cognitive Self Change for aggression impulse training
  • Intensive Domestic Abuse Program
  • Batterers Intervention Program
  • Network Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program
  • Discover Program which treats substance abuse

In 2010, the Vermont allocated $102 million in prison expenditures to supervise an average daily population of 2,248 inmates.  The annual cost per inmate was $49,502.

Vermont prisons are also experiencing several emerging problems.  The rise of gang activities in prison populations has led to renewed focus on additional training for correctional officers throughout the state.  This strengthening presence of gangs is in part related to shipping Vermont offenders to out-of-state prisons, where gang affiliations are common.  Returning offenders maintain their gang identities and propagate gang ideologies to others in Vermont prisons.

Newport, Vermont Corrections Officer Job Description

Newport is home to the largest correctional facility in the state of Vermont, the Northern State Correctional Facility (NSCF).  NSCF is a medium security facility with a maximum capacity of 433 males. The cost of maintaining this prison has risen dramatically in recent years.  In 2008, the funds allocated to NSCF management totaled $10 million; by 2010 this had grown to $16.7 million.

The corrections population in Vermont has steadily grown in the past decade.  In 2002, the total state population of inmates was 1,759; by 2012, this had grown 2,102. In 2012, the total percentage of offenders in prison had grown to 20 percent.

Requirements and Training to Become a Correctional Officer In Newport, Vermont

Basic Requirements – The Vermont Department of Corrections requires that candidates meet the following qualifications in order to be eligible for correctional officer jobs in Newport:

  • Possession of a high school diploma or GED and at least two years of experience in military service, college studies or full-time occupation
  • Possession of a valid driver’s license
  • Near normal vision, hearing and speech
  • Ability to use a self-contained breathing apparatus for use in search and rescue
  • No serious criminal or motor vehicle offenses

The starting salary for Correctional Officer I is $29,120.

Formal Training – New officers must attend the eight-week training program held at the Vermont Correctional Academy to learn how to become correctional officers in Newport.  Training includes courses on the following topics:

  • Communication skills in correctional settings
  • Defensive tactics
  • Human relations and special populations
  • Emergency response training
  • Introduction to correctional procedures
  • Practicum in corrections
  • Rights and responsibilities of offenders
  • Medical and mental health
  • Security management
  • Sexual abuse or assault
  • Conflict and crisis management

The first week and final two weeks of the training program are held at the assigned correctional facility, where officers will be introduced to the duties and procedures of correctional officers.  In subsequent years, officers must obtain 40 hours of additional training annually.  Employees may receive from $1,000 up to $1,400 per year for training.  Training participation also may grant eligibility for the accelerated pay step increase program, which would speed promotion and salary increases.

The Success of Inmate Programs Available in Newport

Among the most successful programs currently utilized at the Northern State Correctional Facility is the Community High School of Vermont, which provides accredited and personal education to inmates.  By completing rigorous academic, vocational training and social skills courses, students may obtain a high school diploma.  In 2007, thirteen students graduated from CHSV with a diploma.

Another critical program for violent offenders is the Cognitive Self Change Program.  This two part program requires eight months of participation while incarcerated and 12 months after release.  Phase I focuses on thought management, recognizing violence triggers, behavior modification and new thinking in life situations.  Phase II involves the same four skills but with an emphasis on use in typical life scenarios.

Rutland, Vermont Corrections Officer Job Description

Correctional officers working in the Rutland area play a vital role in the criminal justice system by ensuring justice is carried out humanely and effectively for both the victims of crimes and the perpetrator.

Correctional officers living in the Rutland area have several choices for employment in facilities operated by the Vermont Department of Corrections (DOC):

  • Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility (MVRCF) in Rutland
  • Southeast State Correctional Facility (SESCF) in Windsor
  • Southern State Correctional Facility (SSCF) in Springfield

In Rutland, correctional officers must be ready for anything, as incidents can and do happen. Some of the more recent events include:

  • An inmate at the MVRCF was charged for a second time of assaulting a correctional officer
  • A teenager who was being transferred to the MVRCF was found to be in possession of heroin
  • A woman was arrested after she used her baby to smuggle drugs to an inmate she was visiting at the MVRCF

Qualifications to Become a Correctional Officer in Rutland

As the three facilities in the Rutland area are operated by the Vermont DOC, candidates will need to meet this agency’s minimum hiring qualifications:

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Two years of full-time employment
  • Good physical and medical health
  • Driver’s license
  • No major traffic or criminal violations

The Vermont DOC recognizes that a sturdy foundation in education will best prepare candidates for correctional officer jobs. For this reason college education may be substituted for the work experience requirement. Since the Vermont DOC allows candidates to substitute experience for education on a year-by-year basis, earning an associate’s degree is the most common way to substitute for the full two-year experience requirement.  Particularly relevant fields of study include:

  • Law Enforcement
  • Psychology
  • Communications
  • Criminal Justice
  • Law

A preference will be shown to applicants who have previous military experience or work experience in a corrections environment.

CO Training in the Rutland Area

Correctional officer training starts in a new CO’s home facility, in this case MVRCF, SESCF, or SSCF. During the first week, trainee COs will shadow their new colleagues as they carry out their duties at any of these three facilities. This will give trainees an idea of their basic duties and the operations which are unique to each individual prison.

After the first week, all CO trainees will move to the Vermont DOC’s training center in Waterbury where they will spend the next five weeks in a resident instruction program, learning essential tasks like:

  • Emergency procedures and evacuation
  • Prisoner search and restraint
  • Self-defense and emergency first aid
  • Searching for concealed improvised weapons and contraband
  • Procedures, standards, and report writing

After demonstrating competent performance in the resident instruction program, trainees will move back to their home facility, where they will receive supervised on-the-job training for two additional weeks.

Applications can be completed and submitted online once a vacancy notice is posted on the state’s Current Job Postings section. Applicants can consult a how-to guide compiled by the state human resources department.

St. Johnsbury, Vermont Corrections Officer Job Description

St. Johnsbury is the location of the Northeast Correctional Complex which is two facilities are located:

  • Northeast Regional Correctional Facility (NERCF)
  • Caledonia Community Work Camp (CCWC)

Correctional officers living in Barre and Montpelier commute less than 40 miles to the southwest of St. Johnsbury to work at this complex. Correctional officers ensure detention and rehabilitation services fall within the legal standards of the state, providing a secure environment that allows constructive activities and work programs to take place.

Prospective applicants researching how to become a correctional officer in St. Johnsbury can begin by reviewing the minimum hiring standards. The Vermont Department of Corrections (DOC), the employing agency at the Northeast Correctional Complex, determines these standards.

Hiring Requirements for the Northeast Correctional Complex in Vermont

Education and Experience – The Vermont DOC breaks up its hiring qualifications for correctional officer jobs in St. Johnsbury into two categories: minimum and preferred. Those who are considering a career in corrections should take into account both of these elements when evaluating how to become a competitive candidate.

Preferred qualifications:

  • Experience working in the field of corrections
  • Prior military experience with an honorable discharge

Candidates may also qualify to become a correctional officer by having two years of college education. This can be substituted for the requirement of having two years of work experience, on a year-by-year basis. Any field of study will satisfy this requirement, but relevant majors include:

  • Psychology
  • Criminal Justice
  • Homeland Security
  • Law Enforcement
  • Sociology

Minimum qualifications:

  • Two years of full-time work experience
  • High school diploma or an equivalent
  • Driver’s license with no serious driving violations
  • No serious criminal record
  • Good health

Training – Applications can be completed and submitted online through individual job announcements for correctional officer positions at the Northeast Correctional Complex, which are posted on the human resource department’s jobs website.

Upon hire, correctional officer training will take place at two locations over the course of eight weeks in total. Trainee correctional officers will begin by observing their coworkers as they conduct their jobs at both the NERCF and CCWC. Following this period of study, trainees will relocate to the Department of Corrections Training Center in Waterbury. During the next five weeks trainees will learn the essential skills they will use for the rest of their careers:

  • Inmate restraint
  • Cell and inmate search
  • Completion of paperwork and report writing
  • Emergency procedures in disaster or man-made events
  • Corrections law and procedures
  • Inmate psychology

Creative Programs at the Northeast Correctional Complex in Vermont

Because of the secure and rehabilitative environment created by correctional officers at the Northeast Correctional Complex in St. Johnsbury, inmates and social service organizations can provide programs such as:

  • Crop gleaning at area farms. Correctional officers guard prisoners who participate in this program to save farm produce for food banks that would otherwise go to waste in the fields.
  • Substance abuse programs, which bring counselors into the correctional facility to help inmates kick bad habits.
  • Domestic abuse prevention programs, which educate prisoners on strategies to prevent domestic violence and minimize abuse.

Besides fostering rehabilitation, correctional officers also always serve as authority figures in the prison. Recently correctional officers helped investigate the case of two inmates who escaped while on a work assignment outside the facility. The two absconders were arrested a few hours later thanks to the cooperative efforts of several law enforcement agencies.

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