North Dakota Corrections Officer Job Description

While North Dakota has a very small prison population when compared to other states around the country, it may present more opportunities for prospective correctional officers. In the United States, prison populations have been decreasing in just about every state, but in North Dakota the inmate population has been increasing. In total, North Dakota has more than 1,500 inmates in prison and correctional facilities across the state.

There are four state correctional facilities in North Dakota, the largest being the North Dakota State Prison, which houses roughly a third of all the prisoners in the state. All correctional officer services are supervised by North Dakota Department of Corrections.

Correctional Officer Qualifications and Requirements

In order for an applicant to get a job as a correctional officer in North Dakota, they must first meet a series of basic requirements and qualifications. If an applicant does not meet all of the requirements and qualifications, then they will not be considered for the position and will not move along into the hiring process. Those requirements and qualifications are as follows:

  • Must be a United States citizen
  • Must be able to pass a criminal background check
  • Must have a valid drivers license
  • Must be of high moral character
  • Must have at least a high school diploma, GED or an equivalent level of education
  • Must be in good physical condition

Applicants with a two year or four year college degree are given special consideration during the application process. Likewise, any applicant with at least two years of experience in military service, security work or law enforcement are also given special consideration during the process. Veterans and the spouses of veterans are also given preference.

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The Training Process

If an applicant is deemed qualified for a job as a correctional officer in North Dakota, then they will move through the hiring process and into the training process. Correctional officer training is a very intensive program that teaches recruits how to perform searches of inmates, how to deal with hostile and deadly situations, how to transport inmates from various facilities, how to perform CPR and emergency management, how to conduct surveillance operations and how to conduct and file formal reports to various law enforcement agencies, among many other duties.

During the first year of employment, correctional officers are required to complete 160 hours of training.After the first year of employment, correctional officers in North Dakota are required to complete an additional 43 hours of training each year that they are working at a state prison or correctional facility, which is meant to refine skills used while on duty as well as to keep up to date on new regulations, procedures and practices.

Corrections Officer Salary in North Dakota

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the median North Dakota correctional officer salary in 2012 was $33,690, which worked out to an hourly rate of $16.20. The average was about 2.5% higher at $34,530.

In North Dakota, there are three levels of seniority for correctional officers, each with its own graduated salary schedule, as can be seen here:

Correctional Officer I:

  • Minimum: $29,208
  • 1st Quarter: $34,080
  • Midpoint: $38,940
  • 3rd Quarter: $43,812
  • Maximum: $48,672

Correctional Officer II:

  • Minimum: $32,148
  • 1st Quarter: $37,512
  • Midpoint: $42,864
  • 3rd Quarter: $48,228
  • Maximum: $53,580

Correctional Officer III:

  • Minimum: $35,484
  • 1st Quarter: $41,400
  • Midpoint: $47,316
  • 3rd Quarter: $53,232
  • Maximum: $59,148

Correctional Supervisor I:

  • Minimum: $42,816
  • 1st Quarter: $49,956
  • Midpoint: $57,084
  • 3rd Quarter: $64,224
  • Maximum: $71,352

Correctional Supervisor II:

  • Minimum: $46,788
  • 1st Quarter: $54,588
  • Midpoint: $62,376
  • 3rd Quarter: $70,176
  • Maximum: $77,976

The salary figures below have been reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and include corrections officers across North Dakota:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Bismarck ND
Fargo ND-MN
Far Western North Dakota nonmetropolitan area
West Central North Dakota nonmetropolitan area
East Central North Dakota nonmetropolitan area

Bismarck, North Dakota Corrections Officer Job Description

North Dakota’s main penitentiary is located in Bismarck.  First established in 1885 as the state’s original prison complex, the North Dakota State Penitentiary houses 520 mail inmates in both medium and maximum security.

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Several correctional facilities are located in or near Bismarck to deal with offenders from Bismarck and the rest of North Dakota.  In May 2012, over 800 correctional officers were employed in North Dakota.  A number of these jobs are found in Bismarck, since the city contains the following institutions:

  • North Dakota State Penitentiary
  • Missouri River Correctional Center
  • Burleigh County Detention Center

The violent crime rate in North Dakota increased every year from 2004 through 2011, and law enforcement agencies in the state reported over 29,000 arrests in 2011.  The crime rate in Bismarck is slightly higher than that in the rest of the state.  In 2011, the Bismarck Police Department reported 130 aggravated assaults and 28 cases of forcible rape.

How to Become a Correctional Officer in Bismarck

Education – The requirements to apply to be a correction officer for Burleigh County include both having a high school diploma and college coursework.  They require an associate’s degree or 60 semester hours of college with a GPA of at least 2.0.  Two years of experience can substitute if it is in law enforcement, military police/corrections, or corrections.

North Dakota’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DOCR) also requires both a high school education and two years of college credit.

Training – Newly hired DOCR and county employees learn how to become correctional officers through basic training provided by the agency.  This entails eighty hours of training at an assigned facility.  Correctional officers who are established in their careers receive an additional forty hours of training a year.

Jamestown, North Dakota Corrections Officer Job Description

Jamestown, the county seat of Stutsman County North Dakota, is the site of James River Correctional Center, a medium security facility for male inmates operated by the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

James River Correctional Center opened in 1998 in a renovated six-storey building that previously housed a state hospital.

Although North Dakota has a low prison population (1,500 inmates) compared to other states, the number of criminal offenders is increasing which means there is a growing need for correctional officers.

Becoming a Correctional Officer in Jamestown, ND

All of the following requirements must be met in order for an applicant to be eligible for employment as a North Dakota correctional officer:

  • Citizen of the United States
  • Pass criminal background check
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Good moral character
  • Physically fit
  • High school graduate or GED (although not required, preference is given to applicants with a two- or four-year college degree)

It is noted that North Dakota is home to over seven four-year and five two-year colleges/universities, some of which offer relevant degrees in criminal justice, corrections, public safety and sociology.

In addition, two years experience in law enforcement, the military or security work is a distinct advantage. Preference is also given to honorably discharged veterans.

Training for Correctional Officer Jobs in Jamestown, ND

Newly hired correctional officers in North Dakota are required to complete 160 hours of intensive training during their first year of employment. The focus is on learning necessary skills, including:

  • Properly searching individuals of both genders
  • Dealing with difficult or hostile situations
  • Safely transporting inmates between facilities
  • Performing CPR and other emergency medical procedures
  • Conducting surveillances
  • Writing different types of reports

Veteran correctional officers participate in 43 hours of additional training each year during their careers. The focus is on keeping up with new regulations, procedures and practices.

Life at James River Correctional Center in Jamestown

The modern facility holds approximately 365 inmates and employs 103 correctional officers. The first level of the six-storey main building houses administrative offices, sick rooms and five disciplinary detention cells. The next four floors each contain rooms for 80 inmates. There is also a special assistance unit with the capacity to care for up to 24 seriously mentally ill offenders. Inmates have access to a 18,000-square-foot gymnasium as well as a library, law library and music room.

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Correctional officer jobs in North Dakota are processed through the North Dakota Department of Human Resources Management Services in Bismarck. Current job openings, application forms and hiring process details are available at their website.

The annual salary range for Correctional Officers at this facility is between $29,208 and $59,148.

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