Michigan Corrections Officer Job Description

Michigan’s prisons date back to the 1870s when the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia was built. Today, the state houses one Federal Correction Institution in Milan and many state-operated jails and prisons, so correctional officer jobs in Michigan may found at either the federal or state level.  The Michigan Department of Corrections notes that in 1950, the total prison population in the state was 8727. By 2009, that number had grown to 45,478.

The Basic Requirements for Becoming a Correctional Officer in Michigan


  • Federal
    • Bachelor’s degree for GS5 (beginner) positions (or experience – see below)
    • Nine graduate semester hours for GS 6 positions in social science, criminal justice, law, criminology, or a related field (or experience – see below)
  • State
    • Michigan’s educational requirement for corrections officers may be met through any of the following:
      • Completion of 15 hours of college coursework in any of the following areas:
        • Law enforcement
        • Pastoral counseling
        • Family relations
        • Educational psychology
        • Guidance/counseling
        • Sociology
        • Social work
        • Psychology
        • Criminology
        • Criminal justice
        • Correctional administration
      • Bachelor’s degree in any field, or
      • Completion of 30 semester hours of college education, or
      • Completion of another state or jurisdiction’s corrections officer training program (for those who are currently/were recently employed in a correctional officer position elsewhere)
    • Depending upon a candidate’s education, part or all of the Corrections Officer Exam may be waived
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  • Federal
    • Working for three years, full-time, doing these activities may be substituted for the education requirement at the GS5 level:
      • Selling
      • Guiding others
      • Supervising others
      • Teaching others
      • Emergency response  
      • Counseling others
    • Working for one-year, full –time doing any of these activities may be substituted for the education requirement at the GS6 level:
      • Management of inmates in mental health or correctional institution
      • Apprehension and arresting of those breaking the law
      • Responding to domestic disturbances
  • State
    • No experience is required unless a candidate is already a correctional officer and using that training to satisfy the educational requirement – then, completing two years of full-time work as a correctional officer is necessary

Other Requirements

  • Federal
    • Must be under age 37
    • Must be a citizen of the U.S.
  • State
    • Must be at least 18
    • Must have no misdemeanor convictions
    • Must have no controlled substance violations
    • Must have no domestic violence convictions

Applying to Become a Correctional Officer in Michigan

  • Federal
    • Available federal correctional officer jobs are posted at USAjobs.gov, where online applications are also taken.
    • All applicants must pass a background check and oral interview.
    • All applicants must pass drug tests and physical exams.
  • State
    • State of Michigan Job Opportunities for correctional officers are listed here.
    • Complete the State of Michigan Entry-Level Corrections Officer Exam Application.
    • Notifications of exam date, time and location are sent to applicants two weeks before the exam. Exams are held in Sault Ste Marie, Lansing, Detroit, Ironwood and Marquette. Education may waive parts or all of the exam requirement.
    • Those who pass the exam may be contacted for an interview. A thorough background check, physical exam, drug test and physical fitness test will be performed prior to hire.

Training for Correctional Officers in Michigan


Training for new Federal Correctional Officers in Michigan takes place both at the state’s federal facility and at the Federal Law Enforcement Center in Glynco, GA. The basics of supervision of inmates, policies, procedures, orientation to the facility, self-defense and firearms will be taught to all new recruits.


New correctional officers in Michigan take 640 hours of training. Continuing education is also required on a yearly basis to remain employed.

Michigan’s Correctional Institutions

Michigan has many state-run correctional institutions, as well as one federal correctional institution. Correctional officer jobs are based in the following locations in Michigan:


  • Federal Correctional Institution (FCI), Milan


  • Northern Region:
    • Saginaw Correctional Facility, Freeland
    • St. Louis Correctional Facility, St. Louis
    • Central Michigan Correctional Facility, St. Louis
    • Carson City Correctional Facility, Carson City
    • West Shoreline Correctional Facility, Muskegon Heights
    • Muskegon Correctional Facility, Muskegon
    • Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility, Muskegon Heights
    • Oaks Correctional Facility, Manistee
    • Pugsley Correctional Facility, Kingsley
    • Kinross Correctional Facility, Kincheloe
    • Chippewa Correctional Facility, Kincheloe
    • Newberry Correctional Facility, Newberry
    • Alger Correctional Facility, Munising
    • Marquette Branch Prison, Marquette
    • Baraga Correctional Facility, Baraga
    • Ojibway Correctional Facility, Marenisco
  • Southern Region:
    • Gus Harrison Correctional Facility, Adrian
    • Lakeland Correctional Facility, Coldwater
    • Woodland Center Correctional Facility, Whitmore Lake
    • Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility, Ypsilanti
    • Special Alternative Incarceration Facility, Chelsea
    • Cooper Street Correctional Facility, Jackson
    • Parnall Correctional Facility, Jackson
    • Charles E. Egeler Reception & Guidance Center, Jackson
    • G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility, Jackson
    • Macomb Correctional Facility, New Haven
    • Thumb Correctional Facility, Lapeer
    • Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility, Ionia
    • Michigan Reformatory, Ionia
    • Ionia Correctional Facility, Ionia
    • Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility, Ionia
    • Detroit Reentry Center, Detroit

Corrections Officer Salary in Michigan

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the median corrections officer salary in Michigan during 2012 was $50,800. One of the highest paying areas in the state was Grand Rapids where corrections officers averaged $52,460, which was an average hourly wage of $25.22.

Below is the graduated salary plan for correctional officers according to the Michigan Civil Service Commission:

Corrections Officer E8:

  • Base: $33,280
  • 6 Months: $34,278.40
  • 1 Year: $35,256
  • 1-1/2 Years: $39,748.80
  • 2 Years: $40,352
  • 2-1/2 Years: $41,745.60
  • 3 Years: $42,452.80
  • 3-1/2 Years: $43,659.20
  • 4-1/2 Years: $46,321.60
  • 5-1/2 Years: $48,838.40

Corrections Officer E9:

  • Base: $34,569.60
  • 6 Months: $35,526.40
  • 1 Year: $36,462.40
  • 1-1/2 Years: $41,080
  • 2 Years: $41,745.60
  • 2-1/2 Years: $43,160
  • 3 Years: $44,304
  • 3-1/2 Years: $45,552
  • 4-1/2 Years: $47,611.20
  • 5-1/2 Years: $50,980.80

Here are the correctional officer salaries across Michigan as published in 2012 by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Area name
Annual mean wage
Ann Arbor MI
Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn MI Metropolitan Division
Estimate Not Released
Detroit-Warren-Livonia MI
Estimate Not Released
Grand Rapids-Wyoming MI
Lansing-East Lansing MI
Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills MI Metropolitan Division
Upper Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area
Northeast Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area
Northwest Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area
Balance of Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area

Detroit, Michigan Corrections Officer Job Description

At the end of December 2011, there were 42,940 inmates in Michigan prisons.  To manage this population, over 10,500 correctional officers were employed in the state in May 2012.

The Detroit area has a number of correctional facilities including the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan.  It is located 45 miles south of the city.  Nearly 400 staff members keep order at this institution that houses over 1400 male inmates who are kept under low security.  The facility is also a detention center for holdover and pretrial male inmates.

As of 2013, Detroit is the site of these facilities, which support the bulk of the correctional officer jobs in the Detroit area:

  • Wayne County Jail Division 1 (The Andrew C. Baird Detention Facility)
  • Wayne County Jail Division II (The Old Wayne County Jail)
  • Wayne County Jail Division III (The William Dickerson Detention Facility)

In 2014, these facilities will be closed and their approximately 2,600 inmates moved into the newly constructed Wayne County Consolidated Jail across from the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice.

Steps to Become a Correctional Officer in Detroit

Education – The requirements to become a federal correctional officer in Detroit include having a bachelor’s degree and full-time work experience.  This can be three years of general experience or a year of specialized law enforcement, mental health facility, or park ranger experience.  Nine semester hours of graduate coursework is required for jobs at a GL-6 level.  This coursework must be in criminal justice or a related field.

For those who do not have two years of prior experience in careers as correctional officers, the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) requires college coursework in addition to having a high school diploma or GED.  Applicants can fulfill the requirements with any bachelor’s degree.  Those who do not have this degree are required to have at least 15 semester hours in a criminal justice, law enforcement, human relations, social work, or counseling degree.

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Training – Correctional officer recruits for the MDOC take part in 320 hours of training at the MDOC Training Academy in Lansing to learn how to become correctional officers in Detroit.  This involves academic coursework, as well as physical and firearms training.  Trainees must pass all of the academic and performance tests.  This is followed by a one year probationary period.

The training for federal correctional officers involves three weeks in Glynco, GA, at the Staff Training Academy.  An additional 16-40 hours of training a year is required for officers established in their careers.

Grand Rapids, Michigan Corrections Officer Job Description

Grand Rapids is the site of correctional facilities for both the state of Michigan and Kent County.

The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) operates the Grand Rapids Corrections Center, which has 130 residents.  Over 60% of the residents are parolees, and the Center has a number of programs that help with reentry into society.  It works closely with the Parole Office that oversees 1,300 parolees.  Many of them benefit from services provided by the Center.

The Kent County Correctional Facility is also located in Grand Rapids and holds both men and women.  It has just undergone substantial renovation. The main jail is designed to hold approximately 1,100 inmates.  Over 30,000 inmates came into this correctional facility in 2010 with most of them staying about 15 days.

Approximately 210 correctional officers are assigned to the various units of the correctional facility.  They are solely responsible for overseeing up to 64 inmates.  Kent County is projecting that by 2020 the facility will need 1,200 more beds.  This expansion has been taken into account, and space has been allocated to build more beds in the future.  This will provide jobs for additional correctional officers.

Education and Training to Become a Correctional Officer in Grand Rapids

Education – The requirements to become a correctional officer for Kent County include both having a high school education and responsible work history.  Preference will be given to applicants who have one or more of the following:

  • A bachelor’s or associate’s degree in criminal justice or a related area
  • Certification by the state of Michigan as a corrections officer
  • Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) certification or the ability to be certified

Applicants to work for the MDOC are required to have a high school diploma or GED.  In addition, they must have either a bachelor’s degree in any field or 15 semester hours of criminal justice, social work, law enforcement, or counseling.  Two years of experience as correctional officers can substitute for this educational requirement.

Training – New recruits with the MDOC learn how to become correctional officers through 320 hours of training.  This takes place at the MDOC Training Academy that is located in Lansing.  Recruits receive academic training along with practical training such as firearms and physical fitness.  It is necessary to pass all of these areas to become a correctional officer for Grand Rapids.  Successful training is followed by a one year probationary period.

Correctional officers for Kent County receive training as mandated by the Local Correction Officers Training Act that came into effect in 2004.  Correctional officers are certified after receiving 160 hours of training.  The training was approved and developed by the Michigan Sheriffs Coordinating and Training Council (MSCTC).  It involves a number of topics, including:

  • Academic coursework
  • Defensive tactics
  • First Aid/CPR/AED
  • Fire Safety

Officers who are established in their careers must be recertified annually.

Marquette, Michigan Corrections Officer Job Description

Nearly 300 correctional officers oversee a large population of more than 1,100 male inmates at the Marquette Branch Prison in Michigan.  Although the average age of the inmates at this facility is 37, more than 30% of them are actually in their 20s.

Correctional officers in Marquette work for the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), which hires candidates who either have substantial experience in corrections or have a college education.

Becoming a Correctional Officer at the Marquette Branch Prison

Experience and Education – Applicants who do not have two years of full-time work experience in corrections can still qualify to apply to become a correctional officer in Marquette by earning 15 semester/23 term hours of college credit in the following areas.  This credit can be earned in a field-specific major or through a combination of specialties:

  • Counseling fields:
    • Counseling and guidance
    • Pastoral counseling
  • Criminal justice training:
    • Correctional administration
    • Criminal justice
    • Criminology
    • Law enforcement
  • Social sciences:
    • Social work
    • Psychology
    • Educational psychology
    • Family relations
    • Sociology

Alternatively, prospective correctional officers will be considered if they have one of the following backgrounds in any major:

  • A bachelor’s degree
  • Coursework towards a degree:
    • 30 semester/45 term credits

Training – Applicants who are hired as correctional officers in Marquette travel to Lansing to train at the Corrections Officer Training Academy.  Their studies involve:

  • Academic coursework
  • Firearms qualification
  • Physical fitness training

After graduating from this four-month program, the correctional officers are on probation while they work at the Marquette Branch Prison for a year.  At this point, they are highly trained to be effective correctional officers.

The History and Significance of Marquette Branch Prison

The Marquette Branch Prison is a historic facility that was built in 1889.  It was located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, because the number of criminal convictions in this area grew rapidly in the late 1800s.

The prisons in lower Michigan were becoming overpopulated, and the cost of transporting a large number of prisoners to these jails became prohibitively expensive.  The city of Marquette sought to become the site of this new prison, and the Marquette Businessmen’s Association donated land along Lake Superior.

In addition to its function as a prison, the facility was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, assuring the protection of the original buildings.  Because of the landscaped grounds that are tended by inmates, the prison is a popular tourist attraction in Michigan and is part of the Lake Superior Circuit Tour.

The prison developed a hockey team in the mid 1950s to take advantage of an offer from the manager of the Detroit Red Wings to play a hockey game against the inmates.  The prison hired a new physical activity director who arranged to have an outdoor ice surface built.  In 1954, the Red Wings played an exhibition game against a team of inmates.  The Canadian channel TSN subsequently made a documentary film about this game.

Milan, Michigan Corrections Officer Job Description

Although it was originally built to house geriatric prisoners in the 1940s, the Milan Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) now houses approximately 1,500 male inmates of all ages.  Nearly 400 staff members, including a number of correctional officers, work in the prison to keep the staff and inmates safe.

This Milan FCI is a low security facility with a detention center for holdover and pretrial male inmates.  It is notable for being the top leader in recycling and waste reduction among all of the federal prisons.  It provides incentives to both inmates and staff to participate.

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Rewards for working with the recycling program include preferred eating times for inmates and monetary rewards for staff members who are innovative in the recycling program.

Steps to Become a Correctional Officer at the Milan Federal Correctional Institution

Correctional officers serve as both supervisors and counselors to the facility’s inmates.  Obtaining correctional officer jobs at Milan FCI involves becoming federal employees and meeting the rigorous standards of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).  Applicants can seek positions at the GS-05 and GS-06 levels.

Education and Experience Requirements – Applicants can meet the qualifications to become a correctional officer at Milan FCI through either education or experience.

GS-05 Degree Option:

  • Bachelor’s degree in any field

GS-06 Degree Option:

  • Graduate study (9 semester or 14 quarter hours) in one of the following or a related field:
    • Criminology
    • Criminal justice
    • Social science
    • Law

Those who lack a college degree can use relevant full-time work experience to become a correctional officer for the federal BOP.

GS-05 Experience Option:

  • At least 3 years of general experience performing duties such as:
    • Counseling individuals
    • Providing assistance, direction, and guidance to individuals
    • Responding to emergency situations
    • Teaching or instructing individuals
    • Supervising or managing
    • Selling products or services (persuasive commissioned sales) such as:
      • Automobile
      • Insurance

GS-06 Experience Option:

  • Equivalent of at least 1 year of specialized experience such as performing the following types of duties:
    • Apprehending and arresting individuals who have violated the law
    • Ensuring that individuals who have been confined to a mental health or correctional facility adhere to regulations and rules
    • Responding to domestic disturbances

Training to Become a Federal Correctional Officer.  Successful applicants undergo 200 hours of orientation training with the first 80 hours being specific to the procedures and policies of Milan FCI.  After this, they must pass the three-week training course in “Introduction to Correctional Techniques” at Glynco, Georgia.  This training involves the following areas:

  • Self-defense
  • Firearms
  • Physical abilities
  • Policies and procedures

Ypsilanti, Michigan Corrections Officer Job Description

Ypsilanti is the site of the only women’s prison in Michigan—the Women’s Huron Valley Correction Facility (WHV). In 2009, the state of Michigan consolidated its female inmates from a number of institutions into the Valley Correction Facility.

The total capacity of this prison is 2,039. Since 2011, the facility has been pushing the limits of its operating capacity when the inmate population hit 1,982 women.  This has created a demand for correctional officers who are needed to provide security and ensure the safety of the incarcerated women under their care.

The minimum age of the prisoners in WHV is just 17.  Although this facility had seven prisoners age 70 or older in 2011, the average age of the incarcerated women here was 37.

Becoming a Correctional Officer in Ypsilanti

Qualifying through Education or Experience – The corrections workers at Women’s Huron Valley Correction Facility are employees of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC).  There are two ways applicants can qualify for correctional officer jobs at the facility. One is to have been trained as a correctional officer and worked full-time for at least two years.  The other is through college training.

The primary MDCO educational requirement for its correctional officers include a specified number of college credit hours:

  • 15 semester/23 term credit hours in one, or a combination of, the following areas:
    • Counseling and guidance
    • Pastoral counseling
    • Correctional administration
    • Criminal justice
    • Criminology
    • Law enforcement
    • Educational psychology
    • Family relations
    • Social work
    • Psychology
    • Sociology

An alternate to having studied these specialties is to have one of the following educational backgrounds in any major:

  • 30 semester/45 term college credits leading towards a degree
  • Bachelor’s degree

Training to Become a Correctional Officer – Candidates who are selected to become correctional officers with the Valley Correction Facility in Ypsilanti receive training at Michigan’s Corrections Officer Training Academy in Lansing.

In addition to passing performance and academic tests, trainees must also qualify to use firearms and pass a physical fitness test.

Once they have graduated from the program, the new correctional officers complete a one-year probationary period at WHV.  During this period, they learn all of the skills necessary to serve as an effective correctional officer in an all-women facility.

Programs at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility

The staff at Valley Correction Facility offers a number of programs to enhance the likelihood of the inmates successfully reintegrating into society after they have been released from prison.  The prison offers both GED preparation and adult basic education classes.  Inmates can choose from a number of vocational classes, including:

  • Auto mechanics
  • Custodial maintenance
  • Business education technology
  • Building trades
  • Food technology
  • Horticulture

In addition, the Humane Society of Huron Valley has developed a program in which selected inmates foster and train shelter dogs.  This is part of the Michigan Inmates Providing Assistance Work & Service (MI-Paws).

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The inmates live with each of their dogs around the clock and train them to pass the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizenship test.  The dogs are then highly adoptable and are trained to go into a home setting.

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