The Federal Bureau of Prisons operates numerous federal correctional facilities in Illinois. In addition to the Metropolitan Correctional Center and Community Corrections Management Field Office in Chicago, the BOP also manages two medium security Federal Correctional Institutions in Pekin and Greenville. The U.S. Penitentiary found in Marion also houses medium security inmates. The Federal Bureau of Prisons supervised a total of 5,097 inmates in Illinois during the latest population count in 2013.
The Illinois Department of Corrections, headquartered in Springfield, oversees a total of 51 correctional facilities, including 29 correctional centers, nine work camps, seven adult transition centers, four reception/classification centers and two impact incarceration programs (IIPs). The IIPs, highly structured intervention programs implemented in 2000, focus on developing inmate responsibility and self-esteem as well as addressing issues underlying criminal behavior and substance abuse. As of 2003, the program’s recidivism rate was 23.3 percent, compared to 32.9 percent for traditional correctional centers. IIPs are seen as a hopeful way to relieve prison overcrowding. Illinois currently has over 49,000 inmates living in facilities designed to hold 33,700.
Minimum Requirements to Become a Correctional Officer in Illinois
Federal Correctional Officer
In order to join the Federal Bureau of Prisons as a correctional officer in Illinois, applicants should meet these basic requirements:
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Be at least 21 years old and no older than 36
- Have a criminal history without any felony or serious misdemeanor convictions
- Have a financial history without significant delinquencies
Applicants who wish to join the BOP at the GS-5 pay grade should have these educational or experience qualifications:
- Possess a bachelor’s degree; or
- Have three years of full time experience in
- Emergency response
The GS-6 pay grade is available to applicants who possess one or more of these qualifications:
- Have at least nine semester hours of graduate classes in
- Social science
- Criminal justice; or
- One year of full time experience in
- Law enforcement
- Mental health facility work
Illinois Department of Corrections
- Illinois resident
- At least 18 years old
- High school diploma or GED certificate
- Valid Illinois driver’s license
- U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Speak, read and write English
Individuals who meet these requirements must submit an online Applicant Data Form found at the Illinois Department of Corrections/Career Opportunities website. Applicants will receive a response indicating the place and time to begin the job screening process.
Screening Process for the Job of Illinois Correctional Officer
Candidates for correctional officer jobs in Illinois must complete each of the following components in the order given. Point values are assigned to each component and job offers are given to those with the highest total scores.
- Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE). Tests reading comprehension and vocabulary. Applicants scoring below 10th grade reading level are eliminated from the screening process.
- Inmate Disciplinary Report IDR). Candidates are shown a videotape of an incident and must answer 30 multiple-choice questions about it. This written test measures a person’s ability to observe and interpret situations.
- Physical Agility Test. Involves four exercises designed to measure one’s ability to perform duties required of correctional officers. Persons failing this test cannot continue the screening process.
- Two-Stage Interview. Completion of a multiple-choice questionnaire is followed by an oral interview with two correctional officials.
- Educational Achievement. Two points are given for every 15 semester hours of college completed up to a maximum of 16 points. One additional point is given for an associate’s degree, two for a bachelor’s and four for a master’s.
- Work Experience. Between one and five points are awarded for job experience in law enforcement, corrections or security. Some points may be given for work in other fields depending upon things like supervisory experience.
- Military Service. Veterans earn between 1 and 10 points depending on length of service, promotions and supervisory experience.
Correctional Officer Training in Illinois
Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy
Pre-employment training for new federal correctional officers at the facility the officer is assigned to and at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy in Glynco, GA. This instruction includes firearms training, defensive tactics, policies and procedures. Following the first year, federal correctional officers must obtain between 16 and 40 hours of additional training each year.
Illinois Department of Corrections Training
New recruits are required to attend the Department of Corrections Training Academy in Springfield where they are housed in dormitories. The relevant, realistic and current training teaches new recruits in Illinois how to become a correctional officer in the real world by covering such topics as:
- Control Tactics
- Crisis Intervention
- Hostage Negotiations
- Prevention of Prison Rape
- Use of Restraints
- Administration of Discipline
- Report writing
Illinois Correctional Officer Salaries and Benefits
Annual starting salaries range between $27,113 and $33,110 and go up to $41,631 to $50,839, depending on location. Benefits include paid holidays/vacations; health/life insurance, an excellent retirement plan and free uniforms.
Corrections Officer Salary in Illinois
In Illinois, correctional officers are assigned a pay grade and code to determine their salary. Code Q represents salaries inclusive of the negotiated alternative pension formula rate. Code S represents salaries inclusive of the negotiated maximum-security institution rate.
Correctional Officer – Code Q:
- Step 1: $45,072
- Step 2: $46,728
- Step 3: $48,432
- Step 4: $50,352
- Step 5: $52,104
- Step 8 (Maximum): $59,244
Correctional Officer – Code S:
- Step 1: $45,948
- Step 2: $47,616
- Step 3: $49,392
- Step 4: $51,264
- Step 5: $53,076
- Step 8 (Maximum): $60,204
Correctional Sergeant – Code Q:
- Step 1: $51,072
- Step 2: $53,208
- Step 3: $55,524
- Step 4: $57,816
- Step 5: $60,084
- Step 8 (Maximum): $68,568
Correctional Sergeant – Code S:
- Step 1: $51,984
- Step 2: $54,180
- Step 3: $56,508
- Step 4: $58,752
- Step 5: $61,080
- Step 8 (Maximum): $69,564
The median correctional officer salary in Illinois during 2012 was $52,860. The salary figures given here are taken from the U.S. Department of Labor and include corrections officers in various cities across Illinois:
Chicago, Illinois Corrections Officer Job Description
The entire prison system around the Chicago area is bustling. A prime example is the Metropolitan Correctional Center: 75 percent over capacity by a recent count, a phenomenon not witnessed by veteran correctional officers since an inmate population crisis in the 1980s. In response to that crisis three additional prisons were constructed creating hundreds of additional correctional officer jobs, and the federal government’s recent purchase of Thomson prison may be a sign of a similar solution to the current overcrowding.
There are several state, federal, and county corrections facilities located in Chicago’s proximity:
- The federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago
- The CCM Chicago Community Corrections Office located on Adams Street, a federal facility
- Sheridan Correctional Facility located in LaSalle County, part of the Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC)
- The DOC’s Stateville Correctional Facility located in Joliet
- Cook County Jail in the Little Village district of Chicago- the largest jail in the country
- DuPage County Jail in Wheaton
Correctional Officer Education
Correctional officers in state prisons and local jails need to have a high school diploma or GED. In addition to this prerequisite, college or university education may be a necessity or give prospective officers a preferential status, depending on the requirements of the correctional agency.
Correctional officers in federal prisons are required to have either work experience or post-secondary education. For these positions, candidates choosing the education route will need to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in any field, and can enter on a higher pay-grade if they possess at least 9 semester hours or 14 quarter hours of graduate study in the fields of criminology, criminal justice, social science, or a related subject area such as law. Higher education may also be beneficial for candidates at the state and county levels.
The three principal employers for correctional officers in the Chicago vicinity are the State of Illinois, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and local counties. Each agency has its own specific hiring requirements for correctional officers depending on their job descriptions, but candidates who can meet the following conditions will be positioned well in the application process:
- U.S. citizen, with non-federal agencies also accepting authorized permanent residents
- Fluency in the English language
- High school diploma or GED
- Upstanding citizen without an extensive criminal records
State and Federal Correctional Officer Training
The Illinois DOC operates state-of-the-art training academies in Springfield, Joliet, and Marion, with additional mobile training units being available to conduct on-site training at any corrections facility across the state. The core of a Chicago DOC correctional officer’s training will take place on the main Springfield campus for six weeks, to which cadets will be transported to and from at the beginning and end of each week, respectively. During this time trainees will live in dormitory buildings and follow a structured schedule, with free weekends.
Newly-hired federal correctional officers will begin by attending the three-week course, Introduction to Correctional Techniques, in Glynco, Georgia, to be followed by an orientation and on-the-job training at their home facility. Training for federal, state, and county correctional officers will include topics such as:
- Agency procedures and policies
- Report writing
- Firearms training
- How to become proficient in self-defense, first aid, and CPR
- Inmate search, restraint, and control
Applying for Chicago Corrections Jobs
Candidates interested in applying at the county level to become correctional officers should check with their local sheriff’s department or county human resources department for any correctional officer vacancies or open application opportunities.
Those interested in being hired in one of the state DOC facilities in the Chicago vicinity can begin the application process by filling out an Electronic Applicant Data Form and will be notified when they can report for a screening. They will also be required to take the Adult Basic Education TABE Test that must be passed at the 10th grade level, evaluating a candidate’s abilities in vocabulary and reading comprehension.
Federal candidates can begin the application process on the government’s USAJobs website.
Joliet, Illinois Corrections Officer Job Description
Joliet, Illinois, is home to the Stateville Correctional Center, one of the largest maximum-security prisons in the United States. It includes the following three facilities:
- Stateville Correctional Center
- Northern Reception and Classification Center
- Stateville Minimum Security Unit
This State facility is managed by the Illinois Department of Corrections and has an operating capacity of 1,611 mate inmates. It also serves as the parent institution for the Northern Reception and Classification Center, which has a population of 2,182, and the Stateville Minimum Security Unit, which has a population of about 162.
As of July 2013, the entire complex had an operational capacity of 4,053 and a population of 3,955.
Requirements to Become an Illinois State Correctional Officer in Joliet
Minimum Employment Requirements
Individuals who want to work in Joliet as an Illinois State correctional officer at the Stateville Correctional Center must ensure they meet the minimum employment requirements, as set forth by the Illinois Department of Corrections. They include:
- Must be a United States citizen
- Must be at least 18 years old
- Must possess a valid driver’s license
- Must possess a high school diploma or GED
- Must be able to effectively speak, read, and write English
The Employment Process
The employment process for becoming a State correctional officer in Joliet includes the completion of three examinations:
- Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE)
- Inmate Disciplinary Report Written Exam (IDR)
- Physical Agility Test (PAT)
Candidates must be able to successfully meet the minimum standards on all examinations to be eligible for hire. Upon completion of the examinations, candidates must then complete an oral interview. Candidates have the opportunity to score a total of 100 screening points during this process. All candidates are ranked, according to their screening points, and placed on an eligibility list.
The Benefits of Achieving a Formal College Education
In addition to the completion of the exams and oral interview, candidates also have the opportunity to achieve more screening points based on their education, work experience, and military experience.
For example, 2 screening points are awarded for the completion of every 15 college-level semester hours, for a maximum of 16 points:
- Individuals who have achieved an associated degree are awarded an additional 1 point
- Individuals who have achieved a bachelor’s degree are awarded an additional 2 points
- Individuals who have achieved a master’s degree are awarded an additional 4 points
Popular degree programs studied by candidates for Illinois State correctional officer jobs include:
- Criminal justice
- Justice administration
- Public administration
- Police science
About the Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois
The Stateville Correctional Center sits on more than 2,200 acres of land, which is surrounded by a 33-foot wall. The perimeter wall makes the Stateville Correctional Center the largest walled state prison in the country.
The Stateville Correctional Facility consists of three living units in which the general population and inmates in segregation and protective custody are housed.
The Northern Reception and Classification Center (NRC), which contains 18,000 beds within 24 housing units, serves as the intake and processing unit for all male inmates in the State of Illinois. The Stateville Minimum Security Unit, which is located inside the NRC, features two units that are capable of holding up to 384 inmates.
Marion, Illinois Corrections Officer Job Description
United State Penitentiary, Marion, more commonly referred to as USP Marion, is a medium-security federal correctional institution overseen by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. This facility also includes an adjacent satellite prison camp for minimum-security male inmates.
USP Marion, which is located just 9 miles from Marion, has a long and infamous history, as it served as a “supermax” prison until its renovations and designation change in 2006. As a result, Marion’s inmate population surged from 300 to 1,511 inmates, as of FY2012.
When it opened its doors in 1963, USP Marion soon became one of the highest-security prisons in the U.S. It earned a name for itself over the years, largely due to the high-profile individuals who served time here. Just a few of USP Marion’s inmates included Pete Rose, John Gotti, and Thomas Silverstein.
Although USP Marion is no longer a “supermax” facility, it still operates one of two Communication Management Units in in the federal prison system (the other being the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana). A Communication Management Unit is designed to severely restrict communication between inmates and outside individuals.
How to Become a Federal Correctional Officer in Marion, Illinois
Individuals interested in becoming a federal correctional officer in Marion and work for the Bureau of Prisons must be able to meet the requirements of the GS-5 level. The requirements of this federal level may be met through either education or experience, or a combination of the two:
To qualify for the GS-5 level through education, individuals must possess a bachelor’s degree in any field. Although a specific degree is not required, individuals interested in a career in federal corrections still choose to complete a degree in a related field. Typical degree programs include:
- Criminal justice
- Justice administration
To qualify for the GS-5 level through experience, individuals must possess at least three years of general work experience, during which time they performed duties such as:
- Counseling individuals
- Teaching or instructing individuals
- Selling in a commissioned/persuasive sales setting
- Responding to emergency situations
- Supervising or managing individuals
It is common to satisfy the above experience requirements if the work was accomplished in the following professions:
- Parole/probation officer
- Emergency medical technicians
- Security guard
- Air traffic controller
- Children’s daycare worker
All new federal correctional officers, following a training program through the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia, are expected to be able to:
- Provide supervision and care for inmates
- Maintain institution security through the enforcement of rules and regulations
- Oversee inmate accountability and inmate conduct
- Carry firearms and properly use physical force, including deadly force, as to maintain control of inmates
- Work long and/or unusual hours, particularly during emergencies or during periods of heavy workload or limited staff
- Use their own initiative to resolve problem situations
Peoria, Illinois Corrections Officer Job Description
Those interested in working as correctional officers in the Peoria area have a wide variety of facilities to choose from. There are several state correctional facilities in the region, along with county jails and a federal institution. Government agencies are looking for responsible and reliable officers to work in the jails and prisons in the Peoria area- providing a structured environment for inmates while at the same time encouraging innovative ideas for reform.
Correctional officer jobs in Peoria may involve working with inmates in the nearby federal facility training dogs from a local animal shelter in basic behavior to prepare them for adoption for people with disabilities or terminal illness.
Nearby facilities include:
- The Federal Correctional Institution in Pekin
- Illinois State Department of Corrections (DOC) facilities:
- Hill Correctional Center in Galesburg
- Illinois River Correctional Facility in Canton
- Lincoln Correctional Center
- Pontiac Correctional Center and Medium Security Unit
- Logan Correctional Center
- Peoria County Jail
Required Education for Correctional Officers
The education requirements for correctional officer jobs depend on the hiring agency. The Pekin Federal Correctional Institute requires its officers to have at least a year of full-time work experience in a field relevant to corrections or a bachelor’s degree, with new officers being eligible to enter at a higher pay level for graduate studies in the fields of criminal justice, criminology, law, social science, or a related area.
Although the state DOC only requires its correctional officers to have a high school diploma or GED, candidates with a master’s degree can potentially receive a 20 percent boost in their rating when being considered for hire, with points also awarded to applicants with a bachelor’s degree, associate’s degree or college/university credit.
The Peoria County Sheriff’s Office requires its correctional officers to have a high school diploma or equivalent.
Corrections Officer Training Academies
Each governmental agency provides its own training academy for its correctional officers. Peoria County requires its officers to undergo 200 hours of training in their Basic Correctional Officer Course.
The State of Illinois provides an intensive six-week Correctional Officer Training Academy in Springfield for its cadets, who will live in dormitories five days a week throughout the course.
The federal government’s Bureau of Prisons provides its newly hired correctional officers with a three-week course in Glynco, Georgia in an Introduction to Correctional Techniques.
All three agencies provide training that logically instructs new hires on how to become capable officers in their new careers and meet every requirement of a corrections job description. Common subjects of instruction are:
- Medical treatment, procedures, and first aid
- Population control and sociological studies
- Prisoner psychology and manipulation techniques
- Facility rules, regulations, and procedures
- Firearms and non-lethal weapons training
Beginning the Application Process
Candidates can apply for federal correctional officer jobs by creating an account on the USAJobs website. Filling out a simple Electronic Applicant Data Form is the beginning of the application process for state correctional jobs. And correctional officer jobs with Peoria County are advertised on the sheriff’s employment postings webpage, although applications are accepted at the main office/jail on Maxwell Road.
Rockford, Illinois Corrections Officer Job Description
Correctional officers working in the vicinity of Rockford carry out their duties with pride and precision. Officers have the choice of seeking corrections employment with the state, county, or federal government in positions at:
- The Federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago
- The Illinois Department of Correction’s (DOC) Dixon Correctional Center
- The Winnebago County Jail in downtown Rockford
In a recent year the average population at the Dixon Correctional Center reached 2,259 and although the major crime rate was down by 8.83 percent in Rockford’s recent statistics, there were still nearly 22,000 reports filed by the municipal police department for Group A offenses, many resulting in felony convictions and jail or prison time.
Education for Correctional Officer Careers
Federal, state, and county agencies each have certain specific requirements and hiring procedures for their correctional officers. Federal correctional positions require candidates to qualify in one of two ways: either by having three years of general – or one year of specific – full-time work experience that provides key correctional skills. The other way to qualify is through education:
- A bachelor’s degree in any subject field
- Graduate work in criminology, law, social sciences, criminal justice, or a related field can earn a candidate entry at a higher pay-grade and allow for more promotion opportunities
State DOC correctional officer jobs in Rockford also require a minimum level of education- a high school diploma or GED. However during the hiring process candidates can receive an extra 20 points out of a total 100 raw application points according to the following rubric for higher education scoring:
- Two points for every 15 semester hours, not to exceed 16 points
- One point for an associate’s degree
- Two points for a bachelor’s degree
- Four points for a master’s degree
Correctional officer positions with Winnebago County require candidates to have at least a high school diploma or GED.
New Officer Training
Different agencies have their own training academies lasting varying lengths of time and with their own specific emphases. However much of the training is similar across agency lines, and focuses on:
- Firearms and non-lethal weapons
- Prisoner control, search, and restraint
- Facility policies, procedures, and laws
- Riot training
- First aid and self-defense
Federal Correctional Officer Positions Near Rockford
Candidates interested in federal positions at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago should be aware of the basics of the application, hiring, and training process. If applicants are U.S. citizens and have no felony or domestic violence convictions they can apply online through the federal government’s employment portal, USAJobs. Candidates should include the following attachments with their application:
- DD-214 if claiming a military preference
- Statement of service from command if active duty
- If qualifying through work experience, a candidate should include employment history with start and end dates in month/year format (mm/yyyy) as well as the average number of hours worked per week
- A copy of college transcripts if qualifying based on education
Applicants will be notified by email if they are eligible to proceed to the next step in the hiring process. Those who are successfully hired will attend the training course, Introduction to Correctional Techniques in Glynco, Georgia for three weeks. The entry level salary for federal correctional officers ranges between $38,619 to $51,193 per year depending on education and experience.
State Correctional Positions in Rockford
Located about 40 miles southwest of Rockford, the state’s Dixon Correctional Center is a large provider of jobs in the area with a Level 3 facility, psychiatric unit, special treatment center, and a $55,828,832 budget as of 2011. Candidates can begin the application process by filling out an Electronic Applicant Data Form and will be contacted with further instructions to begin the application process, which proceeds along the following steps:
- Basic education TABE Test, to be passed at a 10th grade level
- Written examination based on a 30-minute video of a hypothetical incident
- Physical agility test
- Preference calculated for work, education, and military experience
New recruits will attend a six-week training academy in Springfield where they will learn how to become professional DOC correctional officers. Cadets will be provided with transportation to and from the training facility and will spend weekdays living on-campus in dormitory-style accommodation.
County Correctional Officers
Winnebago County correctional officers are responsible for maintaining the peace and order in the county jail. Candidates for these positions can check the county human resources employment listing website for vacant correctional officer positions that noted a recent starting wage of $17.12 per hour. Candidates will need to:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Fill out an online county job application
- Pass a series of tests covering:
- Physical abilities
- Psychological health and disposition
Upon hire new officers will attend the county’s Police Training Institute for five weeks of skills development courses, preparing officers to meet all the requirements posted in their job description.
Springfield, Illinois Corrections Officer Job Description
Correctional officers working in the Springfield area use their employment, education, and training experience every day in the successful and professional execution of their duties. There has been a recent spike in hiring in correctional officers in Springfield and across the rest of the state, with the Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC) recently welcoming 135 new officers into their ranks, bringing the total to 6,669 DOC correctional officers along with nearly 5,000 additional officers employed at the federal and county level.
Officers work to maintain order and security among the various federal, state, and county corrections facilities located in the region of Springfield, Illinos:
- Federal Corrections Institute in Greenville, about 70 miles south of Springfield
- United States Federal Penitentiary in Marion, approximately 174 miles south of Springfield
- State DOC Facilities:
- Decatur Correctional Center
- Graham Correctional Center
- Jacksonville Correctional Center
- Lincoln Correctional Center
- Sangamon County Jail
Getting the Right Education
Each governmental agency has its own education requirements for correctional positions. At the federal level, candidates for correctional officer jobs in Springfield are required to have either of the following when filling out an application:
- Qualifying work history that includes three years of general, or one year of specialized, work experience relevant to the job description and duties of a correctional officer
- A bachelor’s degree in any area with additional preference and pay given for applicants with graduate studies of at least 9 semester- or 14 quarter-hours of credit in the social sciences, criminal justice, criminology, law, or other related fields.
At the county level, correctional officer job candidates in Springfield need to have either a high school diploma or GED and meet one of the following additional requirements:
- 30 semester-hours of college credit
- Two years of full-time experience in:
- Military service
- Working as a correctional officer
- Law enforcement
At the state level, applicants are also only required to have a high school diploma or GED. However, candidates have the potential to increase their application’s competitiveness by up to 20 percent with higher education. State-level applicants are evaluated on the following 100-point system:
- Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE): this exam is graded as pass/fail, with applicants required to pass at the tenth grade level or higher
- Written Exam: 30 multiple choice questions on a video scenario, worth 20 points
- Physical Agility Test: candidates must complete four physical agility events, graded as pass/fail
- Interview: a candidate may earn up to 30 points in the interview process
- Education background: candidates have the potential to earn up to 20 points, awarded as follows:
- Two points for every 15 college semester hours, not to exceed 16 points
- One point for an associate’s degree
- Two points for a bachelor’s degree
- Four points for a master’s degree
- Work experience: 20 points are possible depending on a candidate’s work experience
- Military experience: up to 10 points may be awarded to veterans with a good service record
Although corrections training for Springfield officers is not exactly identical across agency levels, there are many similarities in the academies for federal, state, and county correctional officers:
- Self-defense, use of non-lethal weapons, and firearms training
- Facility procedures and policies
- Extreme situations:
- CPR, first aid, and emergency medical procedures
- Prisoner search and restraint
Each governmental jurisdiction has its own correctional training academies where new officers will learn the fundamentals of how to become competent and professional employees:
- Federal officers will attend a three-week course in Glynco, Georgia called Introduction to Correctional Techniques, followed by a home-facility orientation and continued on-the-job training
- State officers will attend the Correctional Officer Training Academy for six weeks in Springfield
- Sangamon County officers will attend a five-week basic training course, followed by one-on-one instruction with an experienced correctional officer in the county jail