Kentucky Corrections Officer Job Description

There are four major federal correctional facilities in Kentucky that are operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  There are two high security U.S. Penitentiaries at Big Sandy and McCreary, both with attached minimum security prison camps.  In Manchester the BOP operates a medium security Federal Correctional Institution for males. There is also a medical prison facility in Lexington which also has an adjacent minimum security prison camp for female inmates.  In 2013, the latest population count showed that the BOP supervised 6,821 inmates in Kentucky facilities.

There are 14 correctional institutions or camps throughout the commonwealth of Kentucky in which corrections officer jobs may be found. The Kentucky State Reformatory houses the most inmates in the state, at 1917, followed by the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex, with 1706 inmates.

The Kentucky Department of Corrections publishes a Daily Population Report. As of May 2013, this report indicates that 11,603 prisoners are male and 1318 female, for a total daily population of 12,921.

What it Takes to Become a Correctional Officer in Kentucky

Federal Bureau of Prisons

Correctional officers may join the BOP at the GS-5 or GS-6 pay levels.  The qualifications for GS-5 entry are:

  • Be at least 21 years of age and younger than 37
  • Be a U.S. citizen (may be waived for facilities with high demand)
  • Have no serious criminal infractions
  • Have a good financial history
  • Have a bachelor’s degree; or
  • Have at least three years of full time experience in
    • Teaching
    • Counseling
    • Emergency response
    • Security
    • Commissioned sales
    • Management
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The education and experience requirements are slightly elevated for GS-6 eligibility:

  • At least nine semester hours of graduate classes in
    • Law
    • Social science
    • Criminology; or
  • One year of full time experience in
    • Law enforcement
    • Corrections
    • Detentions
    • Mental health treatment

Kentucky Department of Corrections

Education and Experience

Anyone who applies to become a correctional officer in Kentucky must be a high school graduate, or equivalent. No experience is required for potential corrections officers in Kentucky.

Other Requirements

All who wish to become correctional officers in the commonwealth of Kentucky must be at least 21 years old. Additionally, correctional officers in Kentucky must possess the physical agility to perform the duties of the job – that is, they must be able to run, bend, lift, and secure an inmate.

The Process of Becoming a Correctional Officer in Kentucky

Submit an Application

Interested candidates for corrections officer jobs in Kentucky may search and apply at the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet website. Those whose qualifications meet the standards will be placed on a register of eligible candidates and may be contacted as positions become available in the counties in which the applicant specified a desire to work as a correctional officer.

Interview and Testing

Selected candidates from the Kentucky correctional officer register may be contacted to interview with the Kentucky Department of Corrections. Those who pass the interview are subject to a full background check, psychological evaluation, physical examination, and drug test prior to hire.


Federal Correctional Officer Training

New federal correctional officers receive 80 hours of orientation at their assigned facility which includes introduction to facility operations and prison population. The remaining 120 hours of training are conducted at the Staff Training Academy in Glynco, GA.  Officers will receive training in firearms, bus operations, witness security and self-defense.  In following years, officers must receive at least 16 hours of training annually.

State and County Correctional Officer Training

All new corrections officers in Kentucky must complete 160 hours of training in two phases. Phase I of training (orientation and computer-based training) is conducted at the job location, and Phase 2 at one of the following Kentucky Department of Corrections training centers:

  • Central Region Training Center – LaGrange- provides training for new employees at:
    • Roederer Correctional Complex
    • Northpoint Training Center
    • Luther Luckett Correctional Complex
    • Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women
    • Kentucky State Reformatory
    • Blackburn Correctional Complex
  • Eastern Region Training Center – Sandy Hook- provides training for new employees at:
    • Little Sandy Correctional Complex
    • Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex
    • Bell County Forestry Camp
  • Western Region Training Center  – Eddyville- provides training for new employees at:
    • Western Kentucky Correctional Complex
    • Kentucky State Penitentiary
    • Green River Correctional Complex

Phase II takes three weeks to complete and includes classes in Introduction to Corrections, Managing Problems in a Correctional Setting, Intro to Security and Firearms Qualification.

At least 40 continuing education training hours must be completed annually in order to keep corrections officer jobs in Kentucky. They must also re-qualify to keep using firearms on the job.

Kentucky Correctional Officer Jobs: Death Row

Currently, the commonwealth of Kentucky’s Department of Corrections has 33 inmates on Death Row. Just one Kentucky Death Row inmate is female. All of the men are housed at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville, while the woman is at the Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women in Pewee Valley. Kentucky could soon overturn its death penalty, however, as the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, state representatives and state prosecutors have recommended its abolition. If overturned, those currently with a death sentence would likely receive a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Corrections Officer Salary in Kentucky

In 2012, the average Kentucky correctional officer salary was reported by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics to be $30,160. The median salary was $27,130. The Lexington and Fayette areas of Kentucky were among the most lucrative for correctional officers where the average salary was $36,260.

The following correctional officer salaries are provided by the Kentucky Department of Corrections:

Correctional Officer Recruit:

  • Entry Level: $21,224.40
  • Midpoint: $28,115.52

Correctional Officer:

  • Entry Level: $23,346
  • Midpoint: $30,927.60

Correctional Sergeant:

  • Entry Level: $25,677.60
  • Midpoint: $34,018.56

Correctional Lieutenant:

  • Entry Level: $28,248.48
  • Midpoint: $37,419.36

Correctional Captain I:

  • Entry Level: $31,071.12
  • Midpoint: $41,161.20

Correctional Captain II:

  • Entry Level: $34,178.64
  • Midpoint: $45,500.16

Here are some of the corrections officer salaries in Kentucky’s cities as provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Bowling Green KY
Cincinnati-Middletown OH-KY-IN
Clarksville TN-KY
Evansville IN-KY
Huntington-Ashland WV-KY-OH
Lexington-Fayette KY
Louisville-Jefferson County KY-IN
West Kentucky nonmetropolitan area
South Central Kentucky nonmetropolitan area
West Central Kentucky nonmetropolitan area
East Kentucky nonmetropolitan area

Lexington, Kentucky Corrections Officer Job Description

Those interested in corrections careers in the Lexington area have 11 state and federal facilities within commuting distance to choose from. By a recent count there were 650 correctional officers living in Lexington, making an average yearly salary of $36,260. Kentucky is currently planning to build a new prison in the area to alleviate overcrowding at the facilities near Lexington, a move that will bring additional jobs in corrections to the region. Candidates hired into corrections positions will first have to navigate their way through an application process and then complete an intensive training program.

Education and Experience Requirements

Candidates learning about the process of how to become a correctional officer in and around Lexington should understand that federal and state jobs each have their own set of standards. Federal positions require all applicants to qualify in one of two ways:

  • Having a bachelor’s degree in any field from an accredited university. Candidates wishing to qualify at a higher pay-grade should have at least 9 semester hours or 14 quarter hours of graduate-level study in:
    • Social Science
    • Criminology
    • Criminal Justice
  • Having at least three full-time years of general work experience, or one year of specific specialized experience in any of the following fields. Candidates may also enter at a higher pay-grade if they have more than a year of specialized experience as a:
    • State trooper
    • Border patrol agent
    • Deputy sheriff
    • Police officer
    • Any related occupation

For state correctional officer jobs, the Department of Corrections (DOC) requires its officers to have at least a high school diploma or GED.

Correctional Officer Skills Development and Training

State DOC employees will participate in the Corrections Officer Basic Course that is divided into two phases:

  • Phase One: 40-hour new employee orientation at an officer’s home facility which includes training with computer simulations
  • Phase Two: Three-weeks of intensive training in a nearby regional corrections facility

Federal correctional officers will be shipped off to the Bureau of Prison’s Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia, a facility shared by over 75 federal law enforcement agencies. New officers will be trained in the Introduction to Correctional Techniques three-week course and learn the essential skills to carry out every aspect of their job description.

Training for both agencies includes:

  • Hostage rescue and other emergency procedures
  • Medical procedures
  • Firearms and non-lethal weapons
  • Cell and prisoner inspection
  • Self-defense and riot control

How and Where to Apply

Those interested in federal jobs can apply through the government’s USAJobs website for positions around the Lexington area.

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Candidates can search and apply for DOC correctional officer positions on the state’s employment website.

Facilities in the Lexington area include:

  • Kentucky Department of Corrections (DOC):
    • Northpoint Training Center in Burgin
    • Blackburn Correctional Complex in Lexington
    • Kentucky State Reformatory in La Grange
    • Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in La Grange
    • Roederer Correctional Complex in La Grange
    • Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women in Pewee Valley
    • Little Sandy Correctional Complex in Sandy Hook
    • Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex in West Liberty
  • Federal Bureau of Prisons:
    • Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Lexington
    • United State Penitentiary (USP) Big Sandy in Inez
    • Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) Ashland

Additional federal prisons in Lexington’s Eastern Kentucky Judicial District include:

  • Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) Manchester
  • United State Penitentiary (USP) McCreary in Pine Knot

Louisville, Kentucky Corrections Officer Job Description

Correctional officers in the Louisville area provide a vital public service and ensure justice for victims of crimes. As of May 2012 there were 1,880 employees in the field working in the greater metro area at all levels of government- federal, state, and local. Louisville Metro Jail, the largest correctional facility in the city, had an average daily population of just over 2,000 inmates in 2012 with nearly 42,000 bookings that year. Kentucky is planning to build additional correctional facilities in the area to ameliorate the region’s current prison overcrowding.

Education and Experience to Become a Correctional Officer in Louisville

The region’s three branches of government each have their own agency that oversees correctional operations in the Louisville area:

  • The Louisville Metro Department of Corrections
  • The Kentucky State Department of Corrections (DOC)
  • The Federal Bureau of Prisons

Each agency maintains its own policies for filling correctional officer jobs in Louisville. At the federal level, candidates are eligible to become correctional officers if they meet one of the following two requirements:

  • A bachelor’s degree in any subject, with higher pay considered for candidates possessing at least 9 semester hours or 14 quarter hours of graduate study in fields such as:
    • Criminology
    • Criminal justice
    • Law
    • Social sciences
  • Full-time general work experience totaling at least three years, or one year of specialized experience in a following field. Candidates may enter at a higher pay level if they possess more than one year of specialized experience in a following or related career:
    • Law enforcement
    • Border patrol
    • Detention/corrections
    • Park ranger

Candidates interested in applying at the state or city level for correctional officer jobs near Louisville need to have at least a high school diploma or GED.

Training for Correctional Officer Careers in Louisville

Correctional officer training is similar throughout the three agencies and includes specialized development of the following skills:

  • Firearms and non-lethal weapons
  • Natural and man-made disasters, prison riots, emergency medical situations, and hostage rescue
  • Self-defense and control of violent inmates
  • Prison psychology and sociology
  • Prisoners search and cell inspections
  • Improvised weapons detection

Federal – Federal correctional offices will attend the three-week Introduction to Correctional Techniques course at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia, where they will learn the essential skills to be capable of carrying out all aspects of their job description. In addition to the basics, some officers will receive specialized training in:

  • Marksmanship
  • Witness security
  • Prison transport and bus operations

State – At the state level correctional officers will be trained in a Corrections Officer Basic Training Course that is divided into a two phase process:

  • One week at the officer’s home institution going over rules, regulations, and simulated scenarios
  • Three weeks in a nearby correctional facility where new officers will receive hands-on training

Metro – The Louisville Metro Department of Corrections operates a nine-week full-time training academy class required for all new correctional officers, followed by three weeks of on-the-job field training.

Applying for Corrections Positions

The application process for how to become a correctional officer is similar throughout all three agencies and involves submitting some initial information online:

Correctional institutions around the Louisville area include:

  • The Louisville Metro Jail
  • State DOC facilities:
    • Kentucky State Reformatory in La Grange
    • Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in La Grange
    • Roederer Correctional Complex in La Grange
    • Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women in Pewee Valley
    • Northpoint Training Center in Burgin
  • There is one federal correctional facility near Louisville, the Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Lexington, in addition to the four remaining facilities that comprise the Eastern Kentucky Judicial District:
    • USP McCreary (United States Penitentiary)
    • FCI Ashland (Federal Correctional Institution)
    • USP Big Sandy (United States Penitentiary)
    • FCI Manchester (Federal Correctional Institute)

Lyon County, Kentucky Corrections Officer Job Description

Lyon County, located in Western Kentucky, is a popular tourist area and the site of two Kentucky State prisons: the Kentucky State Penitentiary and the Kentucky Correctional Complex. Lyon County has a residency of just 9,000, but it can swell to reach up to 50,000 during the summer and holiday months.

Like other state prisons throughout Kentucky, the Kentucky Department of Corrections manages both prisons in Lyon County:

Kentucky State Penitentiary – The Kentucky State Penitentiary, located in Eddyville, is the oldest prison within the Kentucky DOC. It serves as the only maximum-security prison in Kentucky, and as the facility that houses Kentucky’s death row inmates.

The Kentucky State Penitentiary has an inmate population of 856, a staff count of 348, and an annual operating budget of $20 million.

Western Kentucky Correctional Complex – The Western Kentucky Correctional Complex is a medium-security facility that is located in Fredonia. This facility houses up to 693 female inmates. It also includes a 200-bed minimum-security unit. Individuals within this unit maintain the Complex’s 2,300-acre farm.

The Western Kentucky Correctional Complex has 210 employees and an annual budget of $12.3 million. A number of inmate programs are found here, including:

  • WKCC Therapeutic Community – A substance abuse program
  • Farm Program – Minimum-security inmates work the farm at WKCC, a 2,300-acre plot with 630 head of commercial cattle, 780 acres of row crops, an apple orchard, and a composting operation that composts more than 13,000 gallons of garbage every month.
  • Positive Mental Attitude Program – Demonstrates the 17 principles of personal achievement, including: creating a positive attitude, budget money, perfecting your personality, and organizing your time and energy, among others
  • Other Self-Improvement/Health Programs: Includes Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Alcohol and other Drug Addictions (AODA), Thinking for a Change, Cage Your Rage, and Prison to the Streets, among others

How to Become a Corrections Officer in Lyon County

Minimum Requirements

Before applying for a job as a corrections officer in Lyon County, individuals must first meet the Kentucky Department of Correction’s minimum requirements for employment, which include:

  • Must be at least 21 years old
  • Must possess a high school diploma or GED
  • Must be able to pass a drug screening and background investigation

Many of those interested in becoming Kentucky State correctional officers pursue associate or bachelor degrees in fields related to corrections. Just a few of the programs frequently sought by individuals interested in a career in corrections include:

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

Training Requirements

The Kentucky Division of Corrections Training (DCT) plans, coordinates, and conducts training for the majority of new employees within the Kentucky DOC, including correctional officers at all of Kentucky’s 12 correctional institutions.

All new Kentucky State correctional officers must complete the Corrections Officer Basic Course, which includes a multi-phase program:

  • Phase I: 40 hours of classroom training delivered by Computer Based Training within the facility’s computer lab
  • Phase II: Completed at one of the Kentucky DOC training centers
  • Phase III: Completion of an eight-month probationary period at the hiring institution

Middlesboro, Kentucky Corrections Officer Job Description

Working as a correctional officer in the Middlesboro area affords several advantages. Officers are contributing to society and their local community, ensuring justice for the victims of crimes, living in a scenic part of the state near the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, and employed in an area that offers three nearby correctional facilities, with a fourth in the developmental stages. Two sites in Letcher County are being studied for a new federal facility that would help to ease Kentucky’s federal prisoner population boom that has grown from 50,000 in 1980 to 219,000 in 2012.

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Currently the Kentucky Department of Corrections (DOC) operates the Bell County Forestry Camp in Pineville, a 300-bed minimum security prison where inmates provide their labor to the Division of Forestry fighting wildfires.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons operates two other facilities in the area, the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Manchester and the United States Penitentiary (USP) in McCreary

Having the Right Experience and Education

Requirements differ between the state and federal facilities when it comes to having education and work experience. The Bureau of Prisons, the agency responsible for hiring at federal prisons near Middlesboro, requires all correctional officer applicants to have either the following education or work experience:

  • A bachelor’s degree in any field, with 14 quarter hours or 9 semester hours of master’s-level studies in any of the following fields for higher pay eligibility:
    • Law
    • Criminal justice
    • Criminology
    • Social sciences
    • Related subject areas
  • Three years of general, full-time work experience or one year of specialized experience. Candidates with more than one year of specialized work experience in the following fields will be eligible for higher pay:
    • Border patrol
    • Law enforcement
      • Sheriff deputy
      • Police officer
      • State Trooper
    • Correctional/detention officer

The Kentucky DOC does not require any previous work experience for its correctional officers, who must have a high school diploma or an equivalent.

Middlesboro Corrections Training

Correctional officers working for both state and federal facilities will be trained in the following subject areas:

  • Firearms
  • Facility policies and procedures
  • Violent inmate responses:
    • Prison riots
    • Verbal harassment and threats
    • Disorderly individuals and groups
  • Non-lethal weapons:
    • Pepper spray (oleoresin capsicum)
    • Shock immobilization batons
    • CS/tear gas
  • Emergency medical procedures

Newly hired federal correctional officers will attend the Introduction to Correctional Techniques course at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center located in Glynco, Georgia. This is a three-week residency course that will instruct officers in the essentials of how to become professional correctional employees.

State correctional officers will attend a training course offered in two segments, the first being for one week at the officer’s home facility that will include an orientation, job shadowing, and computer-simulated scenarios. The second segment of the Correctional Officer Basic Course involves three weeks of intensive hands-on training at a nearby regional facility where officers will be instructed on the details of their job description along with the critical skills required in the corrections field.

Applying for Correctional Officer Jobs

Applicants to both agencies should read their respective job announcements carefully, following all instructions about specific documents and forms to include and where to send the completed application materials.

State applications can be made by searching the Kentucky Human Resources’ online employment listings for available jobs at the Bell County Forestry Camp.

Candidates can apply for correctional officer positions at the nearby federal facilities online through the USAJobs website. FCI Manchester and USP McCreary comprise two of the five prisons in the federal Eastern Kentucky Judicial District, the three others being:

  • Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Lexington
  • United States Penitentiary (USP) Big Sandy in Inez
  • Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) Ashland

Oldham County, Kentucky Corrections Officer Job Description

Oldham County, which is located in the north-central part of Kentucky, is home to three State correctional facilities, including Kentucky State Reformatory, the largest prison in the State, the Roederer Correctional Complex, and the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex. Prisons in the state managed by the Kentucky Department of Corrections, housed 10,853 inmates as of April 2014.

Correctional Officer Job Requirements in Oldham County

Correctional officer job candidates who want to work for the Kentucky Department of Corrections at one of the three State prisons found in Oldham County must meet the DOC’s minimum requirements for employment, which include:

  • Must be at least 21 years old
  • Must be a high school graduate
  • Must pass a background investigation
  • Must pass a drug screening

Many applicants choose to complete a college program at the associate’s level when pursuing a career in corrections. Popular areas of study include:

  • Criminal justice
  • Criminology
  • Justice administration
  • Police science
  • Sociology

Kentucky State Prisons Located in LaGrange

Kentucky State Reformatory

The Kentucky State Reformatory, located in LaGrange, the county seat of Oldham County, is a medium-security institution. As the State’s largest institution, it has an inmate population of 2,005. The Kentucky State Reformatory, which was has been housing inmates since 1798, consists of:

  • 12 dormitories
  • A Special Management Unit (higher-security supervision) consisting of 130 cells
  • A Corrections Psychiatric Treatment Unit consisting of a 50-bed wing for special management
  • 2 treatment program wings, each of which consists of 50 inmates
  • A Nursing Care facility consisting of 58 beds
  • A detail living area consisting of 22 beds (houses inmates that provide manpower or outside details and the institution ambulance service)

The Kentucky State Reformatory has 518 employees and an annual budget of $31.6 million.

Roederer Correctional Complex

The Roederer Correctional Complex is organized into three sections:

  • Assessment and Classification Center: The Assessment and Classification Center processes all incoming male felons. There are more than 7,000 inmates processed here every year.
  • Permanent inmates in the Complex provide support services within the facility. One hundred inmates work in the maintenance department, kitchen, laundry, legal office, etc. Another 72 inmates help maintain the institution’s 3,000-acre farm.
  • The Substance Abuse Treatment program provides intensive, in-patient treatment for up to 200 inmates.

The Roederer Correctional Complex is located in LaGrange. It opened in 1976 as a minimum-security work camp to operate the prison’s farm. It was converted to a medium- and minimum-security institution in 1987. In 1989 it was transformed into an Assessment and Classification center for all incoming state prisoners.

The Roederer Correctional Complex consists of:

  • 1,002 beds (730 beds are within the fenced perimeter and 272 minimum-custody beds outside the perimeter)
  • 630 beds are for medium-security prisoners and for prisoners entering the system
  • 200 minimum-custody inmates participate in the Substance Abuse program
  • 72 minimum-custody inmates provide support services for the Complex
  • 254 employees

Luther Luckett Correctional Complex

The Luther Luckett Correctional Complex, also located in LaGrange, consists of two, separate institutions: the correctional facility itself and the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center. When the facility opened in 1981, it was designed to house 486 prisoners, but by 1990 the operational capacity was raised to 995.

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The Luther Luckett Correctional Complex also consists of a 44-bed special management unit and a 16-bed minimum-security unit. There are now 1,073 inmates within the Complex, 256 employees, and an annual operating budget of $13.6 million.

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