Wisconsin Corrections Officer Job Description

Correctional officers working in Wisconsin will have their choice of employment venue in male or female institutions ranging from minimum to medium to maximum security. Jobs in corrections are a hot item statewide with over 7,500 employees in the field that offers benefits such as rapid promotion opportunities, a retirement package, health and life insurance, and paid vacations in the first year of employment. Not only are the benefits appealing; correctional officer jobs offer long-term satisfaction with service performed for the State and a good morale among colleagues.

Concordia University, St. Paul offers flexible online criminal justice programs aligned with the set of skills the Wisconsin Department of Health Services identifies as essential for criminal justice professionals, including state and federal correctional officers. Lean more about the criminal justice, forensic behavioral health, CJ leadership, and other related programs available online through CSP Global.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has one facility in Wisconsin.  The Federal Correctional Institution in Oxford is just north of Madison.  This facility is a medium security facility for male inmates, which also has a satellite prison camp for minimum security male offenders. The latest population count shows 1,022 inmates at the main facility with 202 inmates at the prison camp.

Correctional Officer Snapshot

Working as a correctional officer in Wisconsin will require completing a selective application process and a challenging training course. Correctional officers will develop essential skills and training throughout this period of time, many of which they will use on a day-to-day basis, along with many that will seldom be used. A normal day includes:

  • Maintaining control and security of inmates
  • Recording appropriate information and statistics involved in shift activities
  • Documenting instances of inmate misbehavior and conduct
  • Reminding inmates of the proper corrections procedures and policies

Training Program in Madison

The Federal Bureau of Prisons

Federal correctional hours are obligated to receive 200 hours of pre-service training.  The first part of this training occurs at the assigned facility.  The second part of training is conducted at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy in Glynco, GA.

Wisconsin Department of Corrections

Those appointed as correctional officers will have the opportunity to attend a six-week paid training program in Madison. This is not a live-in academy, although trainees living more than 40 miles from the Madison Training Center will have weekday food and lodging accommodations provided. The academy provides instruction in critical abilities, teaching new officers how to become competent and capable. Topics covered include:

  • Crowd control methods
  • Familiarization with forged and improvised weapons
  • Public relations and facility administration rules
  • Supervision and conduct with inmates

After graduating from the training center, correctional officers will spend one week in their home institution where they will perform supervised tasks such as:

  • Inmate counseling and searches
  • Completion of records
  • Inmate transportation in an official vehicle

Upon completion of their training, officers will begin a six-month period of probation.

Wisconsin Requirements

Federal Correctional Officer Requirements

In order to join the Federal Bureau of Prisons at the GS-5 pay level, correctional officers must meet these minimum standards:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have a criminal history without felony or serious misdemeanor convictions
  • Be between 20 and 37 years of age
  • Have a good financial history
  • Be able to perform these tasks
    • Climb a ladder and grasp an object in seven seconds or less
    • Run a quarter mile and handcuff an individual in two minutes and 35 seconds or less
    • Climb 108 stairs while carrying 20 pounds in 45 seconds or less
    • Run an obstacle course in 58 seconds or less
    • Drag a 75 pound dummy across 694 feet in three minutes or less
  • Have a bachelor’s degree; or
  • Have three years of experience in
    • Management
    • Sales
    • Teaching
    • Emergency response
    • Counseling
    • Security
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Candidates with the following qualifications are eligible for the GS-6 pay grade:

  • Nine semester hours in graduate school studying law, social science or criminology; or
  • One year of experience in corrections, law enforcement, or mental illness care

State Correctional Officer Requirements

Only those meeting specific requirements are eligible to become correctional officers in Wisconsin. These include: 

  • Having a valid Wisconsin driver’s license upon appointment
    • Candidates must have possessed a valid driver’s license for at least two years, and may not have had more than three violations in this time
  • Any felony convictions must have been pardoned, and candidates may not have any domestic violence convictions
  • At least 18 years old with a high school diploma or an equivalent
  • Lawfully able to possess a firearm and not under some form of state or federal custody

Getting Started with the Application Process

Candidates should keep in mind that the start date of the training academy can fall about five or six months after an initial application is made. This means candidates should get informed about the application process and plan ahead.

Potential candidates can print off an application packet from the State’s Department of Corrections (DOC) website that includes everything necessary to make an initial application. These materials should be mailed to the DOC’s Officer Selections Office on East Washington Avenue in Madison, and include:

  • General State application
  • Correctional officer supplemental application
  • Eligibility checklist
  • Preference form
  • Supplemental conviction record
  • Authorization of confidential release of information

After Applying

Competitive candidates will be notified when and where they will be scheduled to take a required multiple choice test, for which they will receive a study guide. The test takes about an hour to finish and is comprised of 55 questions that evaluate a candidate’s skill in judgment and reading comprehension. After passing the test with a score of at least 70 percent, candidates will continue through the application process that includes: 

  • Selection panel
  • Medical examination
  • Physical fitness test: required scores are correlated to a candidate’s age, detailed here on page two
    • Push-ups
    • Sit-ups
    • 1.5-mile run
  • Final certification

Corrections Officer Salary in Wisconsin

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition, published by the Department of Labor, there was a median corrections officer salary in Wisconsin of $42,800 that year.

One of the highest paying areas throughout the state was the metropolitan area of Kenosha County and Lake County where the average was $57,180. Corrections officers in these counties earning in the top ten percent averaged an astounding $74,710 per year, which was roughly 43% more than the statewide median and 23% more than the average in both Kenosha and Lake County.

The Wisconsin Department of Corrections reports that correctional officers receive a starting hourly wage of $14.894. The starting hourly rate for correctional sergeants is $15.639. These rates, of course, increase with training, experience, and career longevity.

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These salary figures have been provided by the Department of Labor and represent the salaries of correctional officers in Wisconsin:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Duluth MN-WI
Lake County-Kenosha County IL-WI Metropolitan Division
Madison WI
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI
Oshkosh-Neenah WI
Eastern Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area
South Central Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area
Southwestern Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area

Eau Claire, Wisconsin Corrections Officer Job Description

The Eau Claire area offers correctional officers several options for employment with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC). Every day near Eau Claire, hundreds of correctional officers supervise thousands of inmates at three key facilities where they play an integral role in state’s criminal justice system:

  • Saint Croix CC – Located in New Richmond, this facility focuses on discipline and treatment, offering a Challenge Incarceration Program and an Alternative to Revocation program. These programs involve structured work activities, military discipline, as well as group development and interaction.
  • Chippewa Valley Correctional Treatment Facility CI – Chippewa Falls is home to this facility, which housed 478 minimum-security inmates by the most recent count. The facility focuses on drug and alcohol treatment and maintains 300 beds for rehabilitation inmates and 150 beds for work release inmates.
  • Stanley CI – This facility currently houses 1,540 male medium security inmates.

Employment Standards with the Wisconsin DOC

The Wisconsin DOC sets the correctional officer employment standards for the three facilities near Eau Claire. Applicants for these positions must:

  • Be at least 18 years old with a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Have no domestic violence or sustained felony convictions
  • Have maintained a valid driver’s license for at least two years, with no more than three traffic violations
  • Be in good mental and physical shape

Because correctional officer jobs in Eau Claire can be highly competitive, applicants may consider ways in which to increase their qualifications. These optional strategies can include college courses in pursuit of an associate or bachelor degree in certain strategic subjects. Correctional officers with a college education in the following fields are also given special consideration during promotion evaluations:

  • Law Enforcement
  • Psychology
  • Communications
  • Corrections
  • Cultural Studies
  • Medicine

Application and Training for Eau Claire Correctional Facilities

Prospective correctional officers can complete and submit their applications online through positions posted on the DOC’s employment website. These will either be listed by location or for state-wide correctional officers, with the option to specify locations later on. As part of the application process candidates will need to fill out a questionnaire to confirm their eligibility.

Attractive applicants will be notified to continue in the hiring process, which will include:

  • Drug screening
  • Medical evaluation
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Physical fitness test:
    • Push-ups
    • Sit-ups
    • 1.5-mile run

Correctional officer training takes place at the Madison Training Center in the state’s capital. After six weeks new COs will be ready for an additional week of supervised on-the-job training at a DOC correctional facility. This is followed by placement in one of the three facilities near Eau Claire. Staff will work with the new officer to ensure a smooth transition from training to full employment.

The Madison Training Center’s curriculum includes coverage of:

  • Psychological risk factors of corrections
  • Inmate psychology
  • Inmate search and restraint
  • Administrative tasks and report writing
  • Improvised weapon training and detection
  • Communication
  • Crowd control and evacuation

Green Bay, Wisconsin Corrections Officer Job Description

As one of Wisconsin’s largest cities, Green Bay is also a hub for correctional officers employed with the state’s Department of Corrections (DOC). COs will have their choice between five important DOC facilities in the area:

  • Green Bay CI – By the most recent count there were 1,090 male inmates staying at this maximum security prison under the protection of six armed guard towers.
  • Sanger B. Powers CC – Located in Oneida, this is a minimum security prison that houses 120 male offenders.
  • Oshkosh CI – the most recent statistics show that 2,032 inmates are housed in this medium security facility.
  • Winnebago CC – 250 male inmates call this minimum security facility their temporary home, which also serves as a work release center.
  • Drug Abuse CC – Also located in Winnebago, 300 inmates are located at this facility, which focuses on drug rehabilitation and treatment.

Altogether, these facilities in and around Green Bay employ hundreds of correctional officers who supervise around 3,800 offenders. These numbers highlight the importance of this occupation to the local community and state criminal justice system.

In order to become a correctional officer in Green Bay candidates can start by researching the Wisconsin DOC’s hiring requirements.

Meeting DOC Qualifications to Become a CO in Green Bay

Entry-level correctional officer jobs in Green Bay require the following qualifications:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have possessed a valid driver’s license for at least two years, with no more than three traffic violations in this period
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Have no domestic violence or unpardoned felony convictions
  • Be in good physical and mental condition

Education in the form of college-level courses is an option worth considering. Higher-level education in the following subject areas is considered during both hiring and promotional evaluations:

  • Psychology
  • Medical sciences
  • Cultural Studies
  • Law Enforcement
  • Corrections
  • Communications

Submitting an Application with the Wisconsin DOC

Applications must be submitted online, through announcements which can be found on the DOC’s employment website. The location of employment will be specified on the announcement and candidates may also specify this if there is a statewide hiring initiative for COs. It can take a few months from the time of application until the training academy begins.

As part of the application process, candidates will need to pass a fitness exam that includes portions dedicated to push-ups, sit-ups, and a 1.5-mile run. Applicants will also need to submit an eligibility questionnaire.

Entry-level pay starts at just over $15 per hour plus overtime.

Training to Become a Correctional Officer in Green Bay

Correctional officer training takes place at a facility in Madison over the course of six weeks, followed by one week of on-the-job training in a correctional facility. Important topics covered during this period include:

  • Inmate and colleague relations
  • Report writing and documentation
  • Crowd control techniques
  • Inmate supervision and search
  • Weapons training, including improvised weapons
  • Facility administrative rules

Once new COs have completed their training they will be assigned to one of the five facilities in the Green Bay area. They will ease into their initial duties starting with monitoring inmate behavior and conducting personal searches.

La Crosse, Wisconsin Corrections Officer Job Description

La Crosse is home to many correctional officers who work at one of three Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) facilities located nearby:

  • Jackson CI – Located in Black River Falls, by a recent count this facility housed 989 male inmates in a medium security setting under the management of 200 uniformed staff.
  • Black River CC – Also located in Black River Falls, 21 security staff members are responsible for up to 114 male inmates.
  • Prairie Du Chien CI – Originally a facility for juvenile offenders, Prairie Du Chien was converted to an adult medium security prison because of the burgeoning statewide inmate population. This is reflected by the most recent count of 507 inmates in this facility, which is beyond its 424-inmate capacity.

These facilities play an important role in Wisconsin’s criminal justice system, where on any given day more than 15,000 offenders are serving time for their crimes in an environment that provides lots of opportunities for rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

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To become a correctional officer in La Crosse at one of these institutions, candidates will need to prepare themselves for a competitive hiring process.

Preparing for Correctional Officer Careers in La Crosse Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department Of Corrections requires all CO job candidates in the state to meet minimum hiring requirements, which are as follows:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Have a high school diploma or its equivalent
  • Have had a valid driver’s license for at least two years, with less than three traffic violations
  • Have no domestic violence or felony convictions
  • Be able to complete a 1.5-mile run, medical examination, and psychological evaluation

Candidates who are considering a long-term career in corrections can also start planning ahead for advancement. One of the credentials considered for more advanced correctional officer jobs is education in relevant subjects.

Having an associate or bachelor degree in one of the following subject areas can help to qualify applicants for promotions in addition to being a strong entry-level attribute:

  • Law Enforcement
  • Corrections
  • Psychology
  • Communications
  • Medicine
  • Cultural Studies

Application and Training with the Wisconsin Department Of Corrections

Vacant correctional officer jobs in La Crosse are posted on the Wisconsin DOC’s careers website. As part of the application, candidates will also need to turn in a completed background questionnaire.

Once selected for hire at one of the correctional facilities near La Crosse, new COs will be ready to begin their training.

Correctional officer training starts with an initial six-week academy at the Madison Training Center. New COs will get to know their colleagues as they train together and develop a sense of camaraderie and respect. Essential subjects covered at this academy include:

  • Prisoner control and restraint
  • Demonstrating good behavior as a role model
  • Strategies to deal with inmate manipulation and psychology
  • Emergency procedures and chain of command
  • Use of force and self-defense
  • Paperwork and report writing

After completing their initial six weeks, new COs will move to a one-week phase of on-the-job supervised training at a correctional facility in the DOC system prior to beginning work at their assigned facility near La Crosse.

Madison, Wisconsin Corrections Officer Job Description

As of December 2012, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections supervised a total inmate population of 21,686. There are about 10,000 employees who oversee the state’s 37 correctional institutions within the Department of Corrections, the State’s largest agency.

Of the State’s correctional institutions, just 3 are female institutions, while the remaining 34 are male institutions.

How to Attain Federal Correctional Officer Jobs in Madison, Wisconsin

Individuals in Madison may also seek a position as a correctional officer in the state’s only federal correctional institution, FCI Oxford, a medium-security facility that is located just 60 miles north of Madison. However, minimum employment requirements for federal corrections officer jobs differ from state corrections officer jobs.

For example, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, candidates must:

  • Be no older than 37 (unless they have previous federal civil service experience); AND
  • Possess a valid bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university; OR
  • Possess at least 3 years of experience in one of the following areas:
    • Teaching/instructing individuals
    • Managing/supervising individuals
    • Responding to emergency situations
    • Counseling individuals
    • Selling goods or services to individuals on a commission basis

Individuals who seek to attain more advanced correctional officer jobs must show proof of either graduate work in criminal justice or one of the social sciences or specialized experience.

How to Attain State Correctional Officer Jobs in Madison, Wisconsin

Individuals who want to learn how to become a correctional officer in Madison in one of the state’s 37 correctional institutions must first identify the minimum requirements for employment, as found in a corrections officer jobs description. Candidates:

  • Must be at least 18 years old at the time of appointment
  • Must have held a valid driver’s license for the past 2 years
  • Must possess a high school diploma or GED
  • Must be able to pass a medical exam
  • Must be able to pass a physical assessment, which includes a 1.5-mile run, push-ups, and sit-ups
  • Must be able to pass a written exam (with a minimum score of 70 percent), which consists of multiple-choice questions designed to assess comprehension, judgment skills
  • Must be able to undergo a panel interview

State Correctional Institutions near Madison, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin, is part of the Western Judicial District of Wisconsin, which also includes the following correctional institutions:

  • Chippewa Valley
  • Stanley
  • Jackson
  • New Lisbon
  • Prairie due Chien
  • Wisconsin Secure Program Facility
  • Columbia
  • Oakhill
  • Redgranite

Milwaukee, Wisconsin Corrections Officer Job Description

The correctional system in Wisconsin is organized and managed by the Division of Adult Institutions (DAI), through the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, which acts as the largest state agency, with 37 adult correctional facilities and more than 10,000 employees.

As of 2012, the Department’s 37 correctional facilities are broken down as follows:

  • Maximum security (male): 5
  • Maximum/medium security (female): 1
  • Medium security (male): 12
  • Minimum security (male): 17
  • Minimum security (female): 2

The Wisconsin Department of Corrections provided supervision to 22,481 inmates, as of 2012 and supported hundreds of jobs for correctional officers

How to Become a Correctional Officer in Milwaukee: Correctional Officer Jobs

Federal Requirements

Individuals in Milwaukee may apply for correctional officer jobs at the federal level, as the federal correctional institution, FCI Oxford, is located about 60 miles north of Madison. As of June 2013, Oxford FCI had an inmate population of 1,008, with an additional 201 inmates housed in the institution’s adjacent prison camp.

Candidates for federal correctional officer jobs must meet a number of minimum employment requirements. Candidates, in particular, must be no older than 37, unless they have previous federal civil service experience. In addition, all candidates must meet one of the following requirements for education/experience:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university; OR
  • At least 3 years serving in a position where one or more of the following duties were performed:
    • Selling goods or services on a commission basis
    • Instructing or teaching
    • Managing or supervising
    • Responding to emergency situations
    • Counseling

State Corrections

Individuals who want to learn how to become a correctional officer in Milwaukee must first identify the minimum employment requirements. Candidates for correctional officer jobs must:

  • Be at least 18 years old (upon appointment)
  • Possess a valid driver’s license for at least 2 years
  • Have no less than 3 traffic violations in the past 2 years
  • Possess a high school diploma or GED
  • Have no felony convictions or domestic violence convictions
  • Be able to pass a written test of 55 multiple-choice questions

Further, individuals seeking corrections officer jobs must be able to pass both a medical exam and a fitness test. The fitness test includes the completion of the following:

  • 1.5-mile run
  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups

New correctional officers must, upon appointment, complete pre-service training in Madison for a period of 6 weeks. New officers can expect to receive instruction in the following areas during this time:

  • Report writing
  • Administrative rules
  • Standards of conduct
  • Supervision of inmates
  • Human/public relations
  • Crowd control techniques
  • Weapons familiarization
  • Communication skills
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State Correctional Institutions in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee is part of the Eastern Judicial District of Wisconsin, which also encompasses the following state correctional institutions:

  • Green Bay
  • Oshkosh
  • Taycheedah
  • Fox Lake
  • Waupun
  • Dodge
  • Kettle Moraine
  • Racine

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