Correctional Officers and Bailiffs

Career, Salary and Education Information

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Top 3 Correctional Officer Jobs

  • Corporate Security Officer - Nationwide - Columbus, OH

    Polices the facilities and reports or takes action to correct any breach of the Company's security policy. Learns all the functions of the Security

  • Account Control Officer - TruStone Financial - Plymouth, MN

    Skip trace delinquent borrowers and their assets when necessary using various methods and resources. • Review and investigate reports that

  • Correctional Officer large bonus - CoreCivic - Trousdale, Sumner, TN

    Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, with more than 70 secured facilities nationwide, CoreCivic security employees are driven by a deep sense of

See all Correctional Officer jobs

Top 3 Bailiff Jobs

  • Bailiff - Forsyth County, Georgia - Cumming, GA

    Under oath and the direct supervision of the judge, bailiffs are charged with the custody of jurors and juries: insulating them from outside contacts

  • Bailiff - Dallas Police Department-Texas - Dallas, TX

    A minimum of 15 through 29 work hours per week will be counted as part-time employment and will receive half credit for the amount of time employed

  • Bailiff - St. Louis County Government - Saint Louis, MO

    The starting salary will be $26,686 annually. As an employer, St. Louis County cares about the health and well-being of our employees. In an effort

See all Bailiff jobs

What Correctional Officers and Bailiffs Do[About this section] [To Top]

Correctional officers are responsible for overseeing individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been sentenced to serve time in jail or prison. Bailiffs, also known as marshals or court officers, are law enforcement officers who maintain safety and order in courtrooms. Their duties, which vary by court, include enforcing courtroom rules, assisting judges, guarding juries, delivering court documents, and providing general security for courthouses.

Duties of Correctional Officers and Bailiffs

Correctional officers typically do the following:

  • Enforce rules and keep order within jails or prisons
  • Supervise activities of inmates
  • Inspect facilities to ensure that they meet security and safety standards
  • Search inmates for contraband items
  • Report on inmate conduct
  • Escort and transport inmates

Bailiffs typically do the following:

  • Ensure the security of the courtroom
  • Enforce courtroom rules
  • Follow court procedures
  • Escort judges, jurors, witnesses, and prisoners
  • Handle evidence and court documents

Inside the prison or jail, correctional officers enforce rules and regulations. They maintain security by preventing disturbances, assaults, and escapes, and by inspecting facilities. They check cells and other areas for unsanitary conditions, contraband, signs of a security breach (such as tampering with window bars and doors), and other rule violations. Officers also inspect mail and visitors for prohibited items. They write reports and fill out daily logs detailing inmate behavior and anything else of note that occurred during their shift.

Correctional officers may have to restrain inmates in handcuffs and leg irons to escort them safely to and from cells and to see authorized visitors. Officers also escort prisoners to courtrooms, medical facilities, and other destinations.

Bailiffs' specific duties vary by court, but their primary duty is to maintain order and security in courts of law. They enforce courtroom procedures that protect the integrity of the legal process. For example, they ensure that attorneys and witnesses do not influence juries outside of the courtroom, and they also may isolate juries from the public in some circumstances. As a neutral party, they may handle evidence during court hearings to ensure that only permitted evidence is displayed.

Work Environment for Correctional Officers and Bailiffs[About this section] [To Top]

Bailiffs hold about 18,600 jobs. The largest employers of bailiffs are as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 71%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 28

Correctional officers and jailers hold about 450,000 jobs. The largest employers of correctional officers and jailers are as follows:

State government, excluding education and hospitals 54%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 37
Facilities support services 5
Federal government 4

Correctional officers may work indoors or outdoors, and bailiffs generally work in courtrooms. They both may be required to stand for long periods.

Injuries and Illnesses for Correctional Officers and Bailiffs

Working in a correctional institution can be stressful and dangerous. Correctional officers may become injured in confrontations with inmates, and they have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations.

The job demands that officers be alert and ready to react throughout their entire shift.

Correctional Officer and Bailiff Work Schedules

Correctional officers usually work full time on rotating shifts. Because jail and prison security must be provided around the clock, officers work all hours of the day and night, including weekends and holidays. Many officers are required to work overtime. Bailiffs' hours are determined by when court is in session.

How to Become a Correctional Officer or Bailiff[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Correctional Officers and Bailiffs near you!

Correctional officers and bailiffs typically attend a training academy. Although qualifications vary by state and agency, all agencies require a high school diploma. Federal agencies may also require some college education or previous work experience.

Many agencies establish a minimum age for correctional officers, which is typically between 18 and 21 years of age.

Education for Correctional Officers and Bailiffs

Correctional officers and bailiffs must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent.

For employment in federal prisons, the Federal Bureau of Prisons requires entry-level correctional officers to have at least a bachelor's degree or 1 to 3 years of full-time experience in a field providing counseling, assistance, or supervision to individuals.

Correctional Officer and Bailiff Training

Correctional officers and bailiffs complete training at an academy. Training typically lasts several months, but this varies by state. The International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training maintains links to states' Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) programs. Academy trainees receive instruction in a number of subjects, including self-defense, institutional policies, regulations, operations, and security procedures.

Important Qualities for Correctional Officers and Bailiffs

Decisionmaking skills. Correctional officers and bailiffs must use both their training and common sense to quickly determine the best course of action and to take the necessary steps to achieve a desired outcome.

Detail oriented. Correctional officers and bailiffs follow and enforce strict procedures in correctional facilities and courts to ensure everyone's safety.

Interpersonal skills. Correctional officers and bailiffs must be able to interact and communicate effectively with inmates and others to maintain order in correctional facilities and courtrooms.

Negotiating skills. Correctional officers must be able to assist others in resolving differences in order to avoid conflict.

Physical strength. Correctional officers and bailiffs must have the strength to physically subdue inmates or others.

Self-discipline. Correctional officers must control their emotions when confronted with hostile situations.

Correctional Officer and Bailiff Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for bailiffs is $42,670. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,300, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $74,300.

The median annual wage for correctional officers and jailers is $42,820. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,500, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $74,630.

The median annual wages for bailiffs in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

State government, excluding education and hospitals $67,680
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 37,840

The median annual wages for correctional officers and jailers in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Federal government $54,720
State government, excluding education and hospitals 42,700
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 42,350
Facilities support services 34,970

Correctional officers usually work full time on rotating shifts. Because jail and prison security must be provided around the clock, officers work all hours of the day and night, including weekends and holidays. Many officers are required to work overtime. Bailiffs' hours are determined by when court is in session.

Union Membership for Correctional Officers and Bailiffs

Compared with workers in all occupations, correctional officers and bailiffs have a higher percentage of workers who belong to a union.

Job Outlook for Correctional Officers and Bailiffs[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of correctional officers and bailiffs is projected to decline 7 percent over the next ten years. State and local budget constraints and prison population levels will determine how many correctional officers are necessary.

Although correctional officers will continue to be needed to watch over the U.S. prison population, changes to criminal laws can have a large effect on how many people are arrested and incarcerated each year.

Faced with high costs for keeping people in prison, many state governments have moved toward laws requiring shorter prison terms and alternatives to prison. While keeping the public safe, community-based programs designed to rehabilitate prisoners and limit their risk of repeated offenses may also reduce prisoner counts.

Bailiffs will continue to be needed to keep order in courtrooms.

Job Prospects for Correctional Officers and Bailiffs

Despite the projected decline in employment, job prospects should still be good due to the need to replace correctional officers who retire, transfer to other occupations, or leave the labor force.

Employment projections data for Correctional Officers and Bailiffs, 2016-26
Occupational Title Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26
Percent Numeric
Bailiffs, correctional officers, and jailers 468,600 433,700 -7 -34,900
  Bailiffs 18,600 18,200 -2 -400
  Correctional officers and jailers 450,000 415,500 -8 -34,500


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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