Iowa Corrections Officer Jobs Description

Iowa Workforce Development projects that between the years of 2010 and 2020, 55 corrections officer jobs will be available annually statewide. Iowa Workforce Development lists active listening, social perceptiveness, speaking, critical thinking and monitoring among the top skills necessary for correctional officers. As of May 2013, Iowa’s nine correctional facilities housed 8145 prisoners, at 12.98 percent above their capacity. Just 640 of these inmates were female. To learn how to become a correctional officer in Iowa, read on.

How to Qualify for Correctional Officer Jobs in Iowa

Education and Experience

In order to become a correctional officer in Iowa, candidates must have a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent. No specific experience is necessary to become a correctional officer in Iowa. All correctional officer candidates in Iowa must possess a valid driver’s license

Transferring from Another State

For candidates who have worked as a correctional officer in another state or jurisdiction for at least one year within the past two years, some of the regular hiring requirements may be waived if:

  • The candidate passed a four-week correctional officer training academy
  • The candidate was not disciplined on the job in the past year

Becoming a Correctional Officer in Iowa

Application Process

  • Search for open correctional officer jobs in Iowa at the State of Iowa Jobs page
  • Apply online at the above-referenced website, stating the preferred institution, if any
  • If contacted to continue in the hiring process, pass a thorough background investigation, psychological testing, and drug test
  • Pass an observation test, which consists of watching a video of a mock scenario and answering questions that will test a candidate’s judgment and powers of observation
  • Pass an interview with members of the Iowa Department of Corrections staff
  • Pass a medical examination to ensure that the candidate can handle the physical aspects of the job
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If hired, a new correctional officer in Iowa must complete five weeks of pre-service training. This is held at the Iowa Corrections Learning Center at the Department of Corrections Central Office in Des Moines. Courses will include:

  • Searches
  • Substance abuse
  • Fire safety
  • Rules and regulations
  • Report writing
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Firearms
  • Offender victimization
  • Offender supervision
  • Interpersonal communication
  • First aid
  • Professional issues/ethics/codes of conduct
  • Hands-on personal safety
  • Suicide prevention
  • Mental health

Once on the job, a new correctional officer in Iowa will receive an additional 80 hours of training with an assigned mentor. New Iowa correctional officers are considered to be on probation for the first six months of employment.

In-service trainings are conducted each year for professional development of correctional officers in Iowa. Depending upon a correctional officer’s job site and requirements, professional development training may vary from one job to another.

Iowa’s Department of Corrections

As of 2010, Iowa Department of Corrections statistics states that its staff of 2800 served 8800 inmates statewide. Once hired, correctional officer jobs in Iowa may be based at any of the nine correctional institutions in Iowa and prison farms and industries.

These facilities and the number of correctional officers working at each as of 2010 are listed below:

  • Prison industries farms – 9
  • Prison industries – 81
  • Fort Dodge Correctional Facility, Fort Dodge – 287
  • Correctional Institution for Women, Mitchellville – 182
  • Clarinda Correctional Facility, Page County – 277
  • North Central Correctional Facility, Rockwell City – 102
  • Mt. Pleasant Correctional Facility, Mt. Pleasant – 291
  • Newton Correctional Facility, Newton – 278
  • Iowa Medical and Classification Center, Oakdale – 538
  • Anamosa State Penitentiary, Anamosa – 318
  • Iowa State Penitentiary, Fort Madison – 451

Correctional officers in Iowa are hired on an ongoing basis each year, with about 250 new correctional officers being hired annually.

Corrections Officer Salary in Iowa

It was reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics in its Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition, that in 2012 the median Iowa correctional officer salary was $45,150.

Listed below are some of the annual correctional officer salaries as provided by the Iowa Department of Administrative Services:

Correctional Officer:

  • Minimum: $37,481.60
  • Maximum: $55,536

Senior Correctional Officer:

  • Minimum: $40,809.60
  • Maximum: $61,048

Correctional Supervisor 1:

  • Minimum: $42,931.20
  • Maximum: $65,062.40

Correctional Supervisor 2:

  • Minimum: $47,091.20
  • Maximum: $71,656

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following were among the salaries for correctional officers throughout Iowa:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Cedar Rapids IA
Estimate Not Released
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island IA-IL
Omaha-Council Bluffs NE-IA
Sioux City IA-NE-SD
Northeast Iowa nonmetropolitan area
Northwest Iowa nonmetropolitan area
Southwest Iowa nonmetropolitan area
Southeast Iowa nonmetropolitan area

Ames, Iowa Corrections Officer Job Description

Ames, located in the central part of the Iowa about 30 miles north of Des Moines, is the principal city of Iowa’s Second Judicial District and was home to about 59,000 residents, as of 2010. The Second Judicial District encompasses both the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility and the North Central Correctional Facility.

Qualifying to Become a Correctional Officer in Ames, Iowa

The Iowa Department of Corrections hires correctional officers throughout the year on a continuous basis, many of which serve at the two facilities in the Ames area. Each year, the Department hires about 250 new correctional officers throughout the State.

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To become a correctional officer in Ames at Fort Dodge Correctional Facility or the North Central Correctional Facility, individuals must meet the requirements set forth by the Iowa Department of Corrections. In addition to possessing a high school diploma or GED certification, individuals must successfully complete the employment process, which includes:

  • A background investigation
  • A psychological examination
  • A video-taped observation and judgment test
  • A drug screening
  • An in-person interview
  • A medical examination

Further, all new recruits must successfully complete a Department’s 5-week pre-service training program and a six-month probationary period to become a correctional officer in Iowa.

For some positions, the Iowa Department of Corrections may request that candidates possess a minimum of 12 semester hours of college-level study, 6 months of experience, or a combination of the two. As such, it is quite common for candidates pursuing correctional officer jobs in Iowa to complete an associate or bachelor’s degree in areas such as:

  • Criminal justice
  • Criminology
  • Sociology
  • Justice administration

At full performance level, all Iowa State correctional officers must be able to maintain security and manage offenders in an adult correctional institution. Examples of work-related duties include:

  • Patrolling the facility and making security checks
  • Inspecting all areas of the institution for safety/security deficiencies
  • Escorting inmates, visitors and staff throughout the institution
  • Interacting with the general public, visitors, and victims as to provide information, security, and assistance

Individuals interested in becoming correctional officers in Iowa must apply for a specific facility. Openings are posted on the Iowa Department of Administrative Services.

About the Correctional Facilities Located in Ames, Iowa

Fort Dodge Correctional Facility: As of April 2014, there are currently 1,306 inmates at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility, 144 over the facility’s capacity of 1,162. The Fort Dodge Correctional Facility is a medium-security institution that was opened in 1998.

Situated on more than 60 acres of land, the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility is located in southern Fort Dodge, Illinois. This facility consists of seven housing units and a number of different inmates programs, including New Frontiers Substance Abuse Program, the Young Offender Program, and the RIVERS (Redirecting Individuals Values, Energy, Relationships, and Skills), a five-month voluntary, intensive program.

North Central Correctional Facility: The North Central Correctional Facility, which is located in Rockwell City, Iowa, has an inmate population of 494 and 107 employees. This Iowa correctional facility houses both medium- and minimum-custody inmates.

With a focus on preparing inmates for the successful return to the community, the North Central Correctional Facility offers a number of educational programs, all of which are grant-funded and contracted through the local area community college. Inmates may also participate in a number of self-help programs, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Jaycees.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa Corrections Officer Job Description

A new budget was recently passed by Iowa lawmakers that included over $374 million for prison and community corrections, with funds to hire more correctional officers. The State Department of Corrections (DOC) hires hundreds of new officers each year, providing up-to-date training and equipping officers with the latest advances in technology to enable them to carry out their job duties safely and effectively.

Officers in the Cedar Rapids area will learn how to become skilled professionals in the 6th Judicial District, which includes the following facilities:

  • Anamosa State Penitentiary, with a recent slightly-over-capacity inmate population of 966
  • Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville where inmates are evaluated for their security level classification and any medical needs

Career Advancement and Promotions

A career as a correctional officer in the Cedar Rapids area provides not only a good starting salary between $34,278 and $50,793; there are also many opportunities for promotion within the DOC. These depend on an officer’s previous experience, education, skills, abilities, and performance reviews. Examples of valued assets are:

  • 12 or more semester hours of higher education in Spanish language classes and possibly other areas such as:
    • Psychology
    • Criminology
    • Social work
  • Commercial driver’s license with endorsements
  • State driver’s license
  • Veterans or other military or guard personnel are entitled to preference points upon proof of eligibility

Corrections Training

Correctional officers working in the Cedar Rapids area can expect to get the best training the state has to offer. This begins with an orientation at an officer’s home facility, and is followed by four weeks of pre-service training located in Des Moines. New officers will then receive instruction and supervised work experience back in their home institution for an additional amount of time. During their first six months correctional officers will be on probation, beginning with their initial orientation. Training will be tailored so officers can fulfill the specific duties listed in their job description, and includes:

  • Improvised weapon identification and precautions
  • Prisoner and cell search procedures and contraband detection
  • Riots, disasters, and emergency medical situations
  • Inmate restraint/control and self-defense maneuvers
  • Firearms training

Application Procedures and Process

Pursuing Cedar Rapids correctional officer jobs begins with an application. Vacant job postings can be found on the Iowa Human Resources Department’s website. HR will make an initial screening of a candidate’s application to ensure he or she meets the minimum requirements of no felony convictions and a high school diploma or GED, and if these are in order candidates will receive a notice informing them of the details for taking a video-based scenario test on reasoning and judgment. Passing this test makes candidates eligible to continue in the applications process, which includes:

  • Background check and investigation
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Drug test
  • Departmental interview
  • Medical exam to verify ability to perform essential job functions

Human resources recommends candidates to include a current resume with working character- and employer-reference phone numbers with other contact information, along with the dates and hours worked per week at previous jobs.

Des Moines, Iowa Corrections Officer Job Description

The Iowa legislature recently passed a $547.3 million appropriation to fund justice system functions, with $374.3 million appropriated for prisons and community corrections. A significant amount of the sum will go towards managing the two state correctional facilities in Des Moines’ 5th judicial district – the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville and the Newton Correctional Facility – and is expected to include the cost of hiring and training of more correctional officers. In a May, 2013 count these facilities were holding 512 and 1,323 inmates, respectively. Correctional officers in Des Moines were recently hired at a starting salary between $37,481 and $55,536.

Designated Positions and Selective Certification

Candidates interested in receiving higher salaries and having better chances of promotion should have experience or consider obtaining training and/or at least 12 semester hours of college education for the following:

  • Ability to speak Spanish fluently
  • Other specified skills that may include psychology and criminal justice
  • Commercial driver’s license and other endorsements

Training Programs

Officers working at the Mitchellville and Newton corrections facilities will need to complete a training process to kick off their six months of initial probation as new correctional officers. This begins with a local orientation lasting about a week, followed by about four weeks of pre-service training in how to become a qualified and prepared officer, including:

  • Firearms and use-of-force policy
  • Inmate restraint and self-defense
  • Non-lethal weapons
  • Emergency preparedness for events such as:
    • Natural or man-made disasters
    • Prison riots
    • Medical situations

Correctional officers will receive additional training at their home institutions that covers specific items of their job description:

  • Facility procedures, policies, and rules
  • Dealing with common inmate problems and solutions
  • Specialized training for designated positions

Des Moines Corrections Requirements and Hiring Process

Applicants for correctional officer jobs in Des Moines will need to meet some basic requirements to have their applications considered by the human resources department. These include:

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Good observational and intuitive senses
  • No significant criminal record, especially felony or domestic violence convictions

Applicants who make it past an initial screening will also have to navigate the hiring process in order to become a correctional officer in Des Moines:

  • Video-based judgment and observation test
  • Background investigation
  • Psychological examination that may include a personality test
  • Staff interview
  • Urinalysis drug test

Important Application Details

Candidates can begin their application process by finding an available corrections job on the Iowa State Human Resources Department’s online listings of position vacancies. Electronic applications are preferred, though candidates may also choose to submit applications by mail. Approximately 250 new corrections officers are hired each year across Iowa on a continual basis. After a candidate’s application has been received it will be vetted to see if it meets the minimum requirements and, if so, the applicant will be notified of his or her initial testing date for the video judgment test. Honorably discharged qualifying veterans, reserve, and National Guard forces may receive preferential points by submitting a DD 214 form or other official documents.

Fairfield, Iowa Corrections Officer Job Description

Fairfield, which serves as the county seat of Jefferson County, has a population of about 10,000 and a thriving economy, thanks to the presence of a large number of start-up companies and its two State correctional facilities.

Fairfield is the principal city of the Iowa’s Eighth Judicial District, which encompasses Mt. Pleasant Correctional Facility, located in Mt. Pleasant, and the Iowa State Penitentiary, located in Fort Madison:

The Mt. Pleasant Correctional Facility is a medium-security institution that is home to 982 inmates and 340 employees, along with a separate unit that houses 100 female inmates with special programming needs.

The Iowa State Penitentiary is a maximum-security facility that houses about 934 inmates and includes 510 employees.

Correctional Officer Jobs in Fairfield, Iowa: How to Become a Correctional Officer

Individuals applying for Iowa State correctional officer jobs in Fairfield may have numerous opportunities, as the Iowa Department of Corrections is one of the state government’s largest employers, hiring about 250 new correctional officers every year on a continuous basis. For job openings at specific institutions, such as the Mt. Pleasant Correctional Facility and the Iowa State Penitentiary, candidates should keep an eye out for openings on the Iowa Department of Administrative Services website.

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Candidates for Fairfield correctional officer jobs must possess, at a minimum, a high school diploma or GED. However, at times, the Iowa Department of Corrections may request that applicants possess at least 12 semester hours of college-level education, 6 months of experience, or a combination of the two.

Job candidates that choose to complete a formal college degree program may enjoy more opportunities than those without a post-secondary degree. Popular areas of study for individuals pursuing careers in Iowa State corrections often include:

  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Criminal justice
  • Criminology
  • Justice administration
  • Public administration

Training is also an important part of becoming a correctional officer through the Iowa Department of Corrections. All new recruits must complete the Departments’ five-week, pre-service training program, as well as a six-month probationary period to become a correctional officer in Iowa.

About the State Correctional Facilities in Fairfield, Iowa

Iowa’s Mt. Pleasant Correctional Facility was designed specifically to treat male offenders who had treatable character disorders (sex offenders) and substance abuse problems. As such, a number of State Department of Public Health programs here focus on preparing inmates to transition back into the community. The Mt. Pleasant Correctional Facility also provides inmates with educational and vocational programs, as well as social classes, all of which are designed to prepare them to return to the community setting.

The Iowa State Penitentiary was established in 1839 and completely renovated in 1982. It now serves as Iowa’s only maximum-security institution that houses primarily repeat and violent male offenders. The Iowa State Penitentiary Complex also includes the John Bennett Correctional Center, a medium-security facility, which features a dormitory setting that can accommodate up to 169 inmates. It also serves as the parent institution to two, minimum-security farms just a few miles away, a 10-bed, multiple-care unit, and a Special Needs Unit, which is designed for inmates with severe mental health/clinical care needs. The Special Needs Unit, which opened in 2002, houses 40 inmates and will continue to increase in stages up to an inmate population of 120.

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