Washington Corrections Officer Job Description

Correctional officers working in Washington earn some of the highest entry-level salaries among these professionals nationwide, and work in one of the fastest growing law enforcement fields in the state. Recently the average salary in Washington was calculated at $47,270. Not only are correctional officer jobs financially attractive, they also provide officers with a sense of accomplishment and camaraderie while serving a vital societal need.

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Federal correctional officers may work at two facilities in Washington.  The Federal Detention Center in Seattle-Tacoma is a facility holding 734 males and females, at latest count, who are awaiting trial, permanent incarceration or deportation.  The Community Corrections Management Field Office in Seattle offers correctional officers opportunities to assist re-entering offenders, juveniles and probationers.

Qualifications

Federal Correctional Officers

The minimum qualifications for federal correctional officers are

  • U.S. citizenship
  • Have no felony or serious misdemeanor convictions
  • Have no major financial delinquencies
  • Be at least 21 years of age but younger than 37
  • Be physically able to
    • Drag a 75 pound dummy for three minutes across at least 694 feet
    • Climb 108 steps in 45 seconds burdened with a 20 pound weight
    • Climb a ladder and grasp an object within seven seconds
    • Finish an obstacle course in 58 seconds
    • Cross a quarter mile and apply handcuffs to a target within two minutes and 35 seconds
  • Have a bachelor’s degree; or
  • Have three years of experience in
    • Management
    • Emergency response
    • Sales
    • Teaching
    • Security

More qualified applicants may join the Bureau of Prisons at an elevated salary if they meet these criteria:

  • Have completed at least nine semester hours of graduate courses in law, social science or criminal justice; or
  • Have one year of full time experience in corrections, law enforcement, detentions, or mental health care

Washington Department of Corrections

Candidates interested in learning how to become a correctional officer in Washington are expected to meet the minimum requirements for the career:

  • No significant criminal history
  • Able to work legally in the U.S. with a valid driver’s license
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Very good communication skills
  • Ability to maintain a controlled and structured environment

Candidates may be able to increase their chances of a successful application by having competitive attributes such as:

  • Higher education coursework or degree
  • The ability to speak Spanish
  • Good employment history and references
  • Prior experience in law enforcement, military service, or a related field

Submitting an Application

Before officers begin their training they will need to successfully complete the application process as follows:

Once candidates have demonstrated to the hiring manager they have what it takes to be a skillful and adept officer, they will be recruited and scheduled to attend an officer training program.

Corrections Training in Washington

Federal Correctional Officers

Federal corrections officers must receive 80 hours of orientation at their assigned facility.  Within six months of hiring, new officers must attend the 120 hour training program held at the Staff Training Academy in Glynco, GA.  This program will teach officers about firearms, self-defense, and correctional procedures.

Washington Department of Corrections

New hires will receive their training in subject-block areas that have been identified as critical for corrections officers. These include:

  • Gangs
  • Security management and proper use of force
  • Intake and booking
  • Critical incident and hostage survival
  • Inmate mental problems and interpersonal communication

What to Expect

Corrections officers strive to strike a balance between the supervision and regulation of inmates while providing a rehabilitative and healthy environment. The range of total inmates in Washington State custody in a recent year’s span varied between 17,473 and 18,004. Working as a correctional officer can be dangerous, but this is minimized when all officers follow the correct procedures.

In one recent case a correctional officer did not follow the protocol of handcuffing a particular inmate in the hopes the inmate would behave better. Instead he attacked another corrections officer and tried to grab the keys to a fellow inmate’s cell.

There are 12 main State corrections institutions located across Washington:

  • Airway Heights Corrections Center
  • Cedar Creek Corrections Center in Littlerock
  • Clallam Bay Corrections Center
  • Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell
  • Larch Corrections Center in Yacolt near Vancouver
  • Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women in Belfair
  • Monroe Correctional Complex
  • Olympic Corrections Center in Forks
  • Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen
  • Washington Corrections Center in Shelton
  • Washington Corrections Center for Women in Gig Harbor
  • Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla

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