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Alaska’s correctional officers work in one of the fastest growing fields in law enforcement in a state that offers some of the highest salaries in the field. The most recent reports show the average annual salary for correctional officers and jailers in Alaska was $57,640. Correctional officers complete an extensive training program after having successfully navigated a highly-selective application process. The Alaska Department of Corrections only chooses the most qualified officers to work in the state’s 13 correctional facilities.
Meeting the Minimum Requirements
The State of Alaska requires its correctional officers to meet certain basic requirements before being hired. These include:
- Being a U.S. citizen or having the demonstrated intent to become one
- At least 21 years old with a good moral character and a high school diploma or GED
- Able to pass a medical examination including a drug test
- Pass a psychological evaluation
- Not having:
- Felony or domestic violence convictions
- More than two DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) convictions in the past 10 years
- Used, transported, or produced illegal drugs other than marijuana since being 21 years of age, or in the past 10 years
Applications may only be made for correctional officer jobs when there is a posted announcement. Candidates will need to complete a State Application, an F3C Personal History Statement, and a job qualification summary, turning these documents in to the Division of Personnel Office in Juneau by the closing date as indicated on the job announcement. Applications may be made by mail or online by creating an Applicant Profile. Vacant corrections positions are posted on the State’s employment website and in local advertising and news sources.
Basic Training Academy
Newly hired correctional officers must be issued a Correctional Officer Certificate by the Alaska Police Standards Council within their first year of employment. To obtain this certification, officers will need to graduate from the Basic Correctional Officer Academy, a six-week program held in Palmer with hotel lodging provided for residents commuting from outside the Palmer-Anchorage area.
Candidates should be aware that as part of their training they will be shocked by an Electronic Immobilization Device and sprayed with oleoresin capsicum, also known as pepper spray. The more enjoyable parts of training include instruction in how to become a qualified officer in areas such as:
- Department policies and civil law
- Firearms training including shotguns
- First aid, CPR, and officer survival
- Non-lethal force and prisoner restraint
What to Expect
Correctional officers receive training that prepares them for worst case scenarios, but that also hones the skills needed for everyday experience. By the time they graduate from the training academy, officers will be able to:
- Inspect units, buildings, yards, as well as prisoners and their property
- Observe prisoners directly in person, through their cell, and via closed-circuit cameras for any abnormal or suspicious activity
- Provide security and escort for visitors
- Know and comply with all facility procedures for their own safety and the benefit of inmates
Corrections Officer Salary in Alaska
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition, published by the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2012 the median correctional officer salary in Alaska was $57,620.
Below are the starting correctional officer salaries in Alaska by city as provided by the Alaska Department of Corrections:
Correctional Officer I:
- Anchorage: $40,996.80
- Nome: $54,953.60
- Fairbanks: $43,472
- Juneau: $43,056
- Ketchikan: $46,342.40
- Seward: $45,115.20
- Bethel: $56,596.80
Correctional Officer II:
- Anchorage: $46,467.20
- Nome: $62,275.20
- Fairbanks: $49,254.40
- Juneau: $48,796.80
- Ketchikan: $52,499.20
- Seward: $51,105.60
- Bethel: $64,126.40
The U.S. Department of Labor found the following salaries among correctional officers in Alaska:
Anchorage, Alaska Corrections Officer Job Description
The Anchorage, Alaska Police Department maintains a map listing crimes each day in the city. As of June 2013, the most common crimes that Anchorage police responded to included vandalism, theft and disturbances.
Alaska has 13 state prisons housing 5344 inmates under the Alaska Department of Correction’s supervision. The average age of Alaskan prison inmates is 36.41 years, and the average prison sentence is just over two years. Correctional officer jobs in Anchorage may be found within state prisons located in the city and surrounding area.
What it Takes to Become a Correctional Officer in Anchorage
The minimum educational requirement to become a correctional officer in Anchorage is a high school diploma, although a bachelor’s degree is preferable and can make a candidate very competitive in the hiring process. Correctional officers who are part of the Alaska Correctional Officers Association and have a bachelor’s degree are eligible for a one-time step increase. A certified copy of the bachelor’s degree must be produced.
In addition to education and experience, correctional officers in Anchorage must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Have no recorded felony convictions
- Have no more than three misdemeanor convictions in the past 10 years
- Have no more than two DUI offenses within the past 10 years
- Have no convictions for crimes of moral turpitude in the past 10 years
- No current or past use of illegal substances
- No use of marijuana in the past two years
The Hiring Process to Become a Correctional Officer in Anchorage
Available correctional officer positions in Anchorage are advertised at GovernmentJobs.com, where a link to apply for the job is also provided. Applications are reviewed and those who are qualified may be called for an interview. The Alaska Department of Corrections website lists required reading before interviewing for a correctional officer job.
After receiving a conditional job offer, applicants must pass a thorough background investigation, medical exam, drug test and psychological exam. Upon passing these tests, a firm offer of a job as a correctional officer in Anchorage will be made.
Training for Correctional Officers in Anchorage
New correctional officers in Anchorage must attend the Basic Correctional Officer Academy training at the Alaska Department of Corrections Training Academy in Palmer. This six-week program includes classes on self-defense, first aid and CPR, communications, policies and procedures, civil law, searches, restraints, firearms, and officer survival. After the first year of employment, Anchorage correctional officers are expected to complete 40 hours of continuing education training annually.
Anchorage Corrections Officer Job Locations
Although Anchorage does not house any federal penitentiaries, there are many state incarceration facilities run by the Alaska Department of Corrections that employ corrections officers in Anchorage or within the general area. They include:
- Anchorage Correctional Complex, Anchorage
- Anchorage Correctional Complex East
- Anchorage Correctional Complex West
- Wildwood Pretrial Facility, Kenai
- Wildwood Correctional Center, Kenai
- Palmer Correctional Center, Palmer
- Palmer Medium Correctional Center
- Palmer Minimum Correctional Center
- Mat-Su Pretrial Facility, Palmer
- Hiland Mountain Correctional Center, Anchorage
- Goose Creek Correctional Center, Point MacKenzie
Fairbanks, Alaska Corrections Officer Job Description
Fairbanks, Alaska has a high rate of crimes against women, according to FBI data. As of 2011, the rate of rape in the Fairbanks area was 193 per 100,000 residents – a rate that is more than double the average rate for cities across the U.S. Thirty-seven percent of Alaskan women report being sexually assaulted at some time during their lives.
The population of Fairbanks as of 2011 was 208,388. The city reports 783 violent crimes per 100,000. The Fairbanks Correctional Center is the likely recipient of those committing crimes in Fairbanks, as it is the main intake facility for Northern Alaska.
Becoming a Correctional Officer in Fairbanks
- Education: While the Alaska Department of Corrections requires just a high school diploma or GED for new corrections officers in Fairbanks, they prefer those who have a bachelor’s degree. In fact, applicants with a bachelor’s degree are eligible for a step increase, thereby earning more money.
- Experience:Although the Alaska Department of Corrections does not require work experience to become a correctional officer in Fairbanks, sometimes specific correctional officer job postings will indicate preference for applicants with experience working with a specific group of people.
- Other Prerequisites: Additionally, all correctional officers in Fairbanks have to beat least 21 years of age, be a citizen of the U.S., have a driver’s license, have no usage of marijuana in the past two years, have no current or past use of other illegal substances, have no more than two DUI offenses within the past decade, have no more than three misdemeanors in the past decade, have no crimes of moral turpitude convictions in the past decade, and have no felony convictions on record.
The Application Process
When a job for a Fairbanks correctional officer is open, it will be posted at GovernmentJobs.com. This website will also have al link to apply for the position. Qualified applicants may be contacted for an interview. Those who are contacted should review important information on the Alaska Department of Corrections website prior to attending the interview.
Once a conditional job offer is made, applicants must still pass criminal background investigations, a physical exam, drug-screening test and psychological exam. A firm offer to become a correctional officer in Fairbanks is only made after all tests are passed.
Correctional Officer Training in Fairbanks
The Basic Correctional Officer Academy training at the Alaska Department of Corrections Training Academy in Palmer provides six weeks of mandatory training for new hires as correctional officers in Fairbanks. The curriculum includes policies, procedures, self-defense, civil law, first aid/CPR, seizures and searches, firearms, officer survival and restraints. All correctional officers in Fairbanks must take 40 hours of continuing education each year to maintain their jobs.
Fairbanks Corrections Officer Jobs
Alaska has a combined jail/prison system, with the Alaska Department of Corrections operating both. There are 15 locally operated community jails across the state, although none exist near Fairbanks. No federal penitentiaries or incarceration facilities exist in or near Fairbanks either.
The main option for those seeking correctional officer jobs in Fairbanks is the Fairbanks Correctional Center, operated by the Alaska Department of Corrections. In addition to housing male and female inmates, the Fairbanks Correctional Center is an intake facility for Northern Alaska. Pre-trial and sentenced prisoners are housed at Fairbanks Correctional Center, at all levels of security (minimum, medium and maximum). In 1992, inmates ranked the prison as the best incarceration facility in the United States, due to the quality of the food and the variety of recreational activities available to prisoners.
Juneau, Alaska Corrections Officer Job Description
Alaska’s capital, Juneau, serves as the site of the Lemon Creek Correctional Center, a State-run correctional facility overseen by the Alaska Department of Corrections. This multi-function facility, which houses both male and female inmates, has a maximum capacity of 222 inmates and a staff of 80.
The Lemon Creek Correctional Center serves as a long-term facility for male inmates, as well as an intake facility for both male and female inmates. Between 20 and 30 percent of the inmates are pre-trial, while about 80 percent of the inmate population consists of sentenced inmates.
Lemon Creek is home to a number of counseling, work, and educational programs and amenities, including:
- Five outdoor recreation yards
- Full-size gymnasium
- Psychological counseling
- Sex offender program
- Substance abuse treatment program
- Anger management program
- Prison Industries employment
- Culture groups
- Religious activities
The Road to Becoming a Correctional Officer in Juneau, Alaska
Individuals who want to become Alaska correctional officers and serve at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center in Juneau must first ensure they meet the minimum requirements for employment, which include:
- Must be a United States citizen
- Must be at least 19 years old
- Must have no felony convictions
- Must have no misdemeanor convictions related to domestic abuse
- Must be able to read and understand Department policies
- Must be medically certified (by a licensed medical provider) to successfully perform the job duties of a correctional officer
Many with their sights set on becoming a correctional officer in Juneau choose to complete an associate or bachelor’s degree to gain a competitive edge and enjoy additional professional opportunities. Just a few of the majors sought by individuals in this profession include:
- Criminal justice
- Criminal justice administration
Training Requirements for Correctional Officers in Juneau
New recruits must complete the Alaska Department of Corrections’ Basic Correctional Officer Academy, a six-week training program that is held in Palmer, Alaska.
Recruits that successfully complete the training program are certified as correctional officers under the Alaska Police Standards Council regulations. Academy training provides new recruits with the skills and knowledge needed to effectively and safely perform the duties of an Alaska correctional officer. Some of the topics covered during this period of training include:
- Civil law
- First aid/CPR
- Department policies
- Defensive tactics
- Officer survival
Much of the training process includes practical, hands-on training, including scenario-based role play that takes place in actual correctional facilities. All phases of the Academy must be successfully completed in order to graduate.
Ketchikan, Alaska Corrections Officer Job Description
Ketchikan in the far-southeastern region of Alaska, is the fifth most populous city in the State and is the site of the Ketchikan Correctional Center. This State correctional center, which is managed by the Alaska Department of Corrections, is a 58-bed facility that primary serves pre-trial offenders.
Some of the programs and activities for inmates of the Ketchikan Correctional Center include:
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- Core Chaplaincy Services
- Narcotics Anonymous
- Adult Basic Education
- Computer Lab
- Criminal Attitude Program
- General Equivalency Diploma (GED)
- Parenting Classes
- Post-Secondary Academic Services (post-secondary computer courses and distance education courses through the University of Alaska)
- Contracted Clinical Services
- Telepsychiatry (psychological assessment and evaluation services)
Qualifying to Become an Alaska State Correctional Officer in Ketchikan
Becoming a correctional officer with the Alaska Department of Corrections starts with meeting the minimum requirements for employment and successfully completing the employment process:
Minimum Requirements for Employment
Candidates for Alaska State corrections officer jobs must:
- Be a United States citizen or resident alien
- Be at least 19 years old
- Must be certified by a licensed medical provider to complete the essential functions of a correctional officer
- Be able to mentally and emotionally handle the essential functions of an Alaska correctional officer
- Have a good, moral character
- Have no felony convictions
- Must have no misdemeanor convictions related to domestic abuse
- Must have no misdemeanor convictions related to crimes of turpitude, dishonesty, or physical injury to another person within the last three years (from the date of hire)
- Must not have two or more DWI offenses within the last three years (from the date of hire)
Although the completion of a post-secondary education is not a requirement to become an Alaska State correctional officer, many individuals pursuing careers in corrections nevertheless choose to complete an associate or bachelor’s degree program related to law, the behavioral sciences, or the social sciences.
Completing the Employment Process
To qualify for Alaska State correctional officer jobs, individuals must successfully:
- Complete a job application, including an applicant profile, which outlines the applicant’s demographic, education and experience information
- Pass a thorough personal history background investigation, which includes a check of the applicant’s
- Criminal history
- Personal references
- Job references
- Complete a medical examination form, health questionnaire, and personal history statement
- Begin working on the Department of Corrections Municipal Correctional Officer Field Training Manual immediately upon being hired and successfully complete it within 6 months of being hired
Completing the Basic Correctional Officer Academy
All new correctional officer recruits with the Alaska Department of Corrections must complete a six-week Basic Correctional Officer Academy training program in Palmer, Alaska, as to become certified as a correctional officer under the Alaska Police Standards Council regulations.
Just a few of the topics covered during this initial training period include:
- Department policies
- Civil law
- First aid/CPR
- Defensive tactics
- Officer survival
The training program ends with a number of scenario-based role playing activities that take place in actual correctional facilities. Recruits must pass each stage of the Academy to be eligible for certification as a correctional officer.
Wasilla, Alaska Corrections Officer Job Description
Wasilla, which is located on the northernmost point of Cook Inlet, is the sixth largest city in Alaska and part of the Anchorage Metropolitan area. This picturesque Alaska city is also home to two Alaska State prisons:
Goose Creek Correctional Center: The Goose Creek Correctional Center is the newest prison within the Alaska Department of Corrections. This correctional institution, which opened its doors in 2012, is a medium-security facility that consists of 5 buildings, 435,000 square feet, and a 330-acre site. When fully staffed, Goose Creek Correctional Center has 345 employees.
There are 1,536 beds at Goose Creek Correctional Center, 1,280 of which are general housing beds. The remaining beds are broken down as follows:
- 16 medical segregation beds
- 56 punitive segregation beds
- 128 special management beds
Point Mackenzie Correctional Farm: Point Mackenzie Correctional Farm, which was established in 1993, was founded on the belief (originally developed by Rep. Ramona Barnes) that low-security inmates should have the opportunity to build their self-esteem by working the land and constructing and maintaining their living environment. Since it opened its doors, Point Mackenzie Correctional Farm has expanded as to accommodate up to 112 offenders, who are housed between modular trailers, a newly constructed dormitory, and remodeled farm houses.
How to Qualify for Correctional Officer Jobs in Wasilla
Before applying, candidates must ensure they meet the minimum requirements for employment with the Alaska Department of Corrections, which include:
- Must be a United States citizen (or resident alien)
- Must be at least 19 years old
- Must have a good moral character
- Must be able to effectively read and understand operational rules and policies
- Must be able to effectively perform the essential functions of the job of Alaska State correctional officer (as certified by a licensed physician, physician’s assistant or advanced nurse practitioner)
- Must have no felony crimes or misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence
- Must have not been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude, physical injury to another person or dishonesty within three years of the date of hire
- Must have not been convicted of a two or more DWI offenses
- Must have not used a controlled substance (other than marijuana) within three years of the date of hire
- Must be able to complete the 6-week Basic Correctional Officer Academy upon being hired
- Must be able to complete the required field training for corrections officers upon completion of the Basic Correctional Officer Academy
The pursuit of college degrees are commonplace among individuals pursuing careers in corrections. Many individuals recognize the benefits of a post-secondary degree at the associate’s or bachelor’s level, particularly for advancement opportunities. Popular degree programs for individuals interested in corrections include:
- Criminal justice
- Justice administration
The Duties of State Correctional Officers in Wasilla, Alaska
The Alaska Department of Corrections employs correctional officers who are responsible for providing security, prisoner management, and emergency response services. Job duties for Alaska State corrections officers therefore include:
- Maintaining security within the correctional institution
- Overseeing the health and safety of both staff and prisoners
- Patrolling and inspecting buildings, yards, prisoners, units, etc. as to ensure the safety and security of the prisoners
- Escorting and providing security for prisoners
- Receiving prisoners into custody
- Conducting searches and making assessments of prisoners
- Directing prisoners to work assignments, meals, and recreation
- Maintaining order and discipline in all areas of the institution
- Performing head counts and confirming prisoner identities