Juvenile Corrections Officer Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a juvenile corrections officer career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a juvenile corrections officer is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Juvenile Corrections Officer Career

A juvenile corrections officer spends the majority of their time guarding and transporting prisoners. Check out the following pros and cons to discover if this is the right career for you.

Pros of a Juvenile Corrections Officer Career
Minimal education requirements*
May find personal rewarding to helping youth strive for positive change**
Most facilities will allow you to begin work at age 21*
Jobs available in all states*

Cons of a Juvenile Corrections Officer Career
One of the highest non-fatal, on-the-job injury rates *
Slower than average job opportunity increase (5% between 2012-2022) *
High stress levels at work *
Job may require long and/or irregular hours *

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **California Division of Juvenile Justice

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

One of the main duties of a juvenile correctional officer is to ensure that the rules of the institution are enforced. This may entail tasks such as searching inmates and their cells for contraband or ensuring that situations remain calm and under control during visits from family and friends. You'll need strong communication skills to deal with the prisoners, as well as to write conduct reports. You should also be able to balance empathy with the need for structure, and in crisis situations, you may be required to display negotiation skills.

Salary and Employment Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for correctional officers in general were expected to increase by only 5% between 2012 and 2022. This refers to additional jobs being created, and you may still find many job openings due to a high turnover rate in personnel. The BLS also noted that as of May 2014, correctional officers in general earned an annual mean wage of about $44,910.

What Are the Job Requirements?

Usually, you must have a GED or high school diploma for an entry-level position, but federal prisons are now requiring applicants to have a bachelor's degree. You may need to prove that you're physically fit and healthy to meet the challenges of this job. Correctional officers must also be at least 21 years old and be able to pass criminal background checks as well as drug screenings.

What Do Employers Look for?

Most employers stress the need to meet the minimum requirements for this job while others seek extra skills or knowledge. Below are overviews of three job postings for juvenile correctional officers from November 2012.

  • A Kansas facility was looking for a juvenile corrections officer to supervise residents and visitors. You must be 21 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. You must also be able to pass a drug screening, criminal background check and meet physical fitness standards.
  • A youth corrections officer position in Montana required you to have a high school diploma (or GED) and one year of any type of work experience. You must be able to physically restrain inmates in crisis situations and interpret group dynamics and behavior. Communication skills are essential and the ideal candidate will be a role model for incarcerated young men.
  • An interim facility in Ohio sought a juvenile corrections officer with the ability to handle crisis intervention situations. You'll need to be able to qualify for CPR and first aid certification, have the equivalent of a high school education and a valid driver's license. An ideal candidate will have experience working with youthful offenders in a correctional setting. Experience in behavioral science or criminal justice settings is also desirable.

Standing Out in the Field

Finding ways to bring experience or knowledge to an entry-level position might seem difficult. There are a few ways you can accomplish this goal and gain some insight into the field before you begin your career search.

Earn a Degree

Schools offer a variety of programs that can help you get ahead. There are programs in criminal justice, psychology, behavioral science and even juvenile justice. You can earn a certificate at some schools that requires less time and money, or you can earn a general education associate's degree that allows you to fill your curriculum with courses that you feel might help you in your work. Some schools offer you access to internship programs that allow you to work in juvenile correctional facilities under the guidance of an experienced staff member.

Volunteer

Another way to get a head start is to do volunteer work in a related field. Some juvenile correctional facilities welcome volunteer workers to help with various tasks, ranging from tutoring inmates to helping out with special events. Organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters need volunteers to become mentors and friends to at-risk children all across America.

Get Certification

The American Correctional Association offers Juvenile Justice Staff certifications. There are four levels of certification offered through this institution. You might find these certifications helpful when you advance in your career.

Alternative Careers

Careers that allow you to work with the same type of troubled youth in a more positive way are probation officers and correctional treatment specialists. The jobs can be stressful while you're working with potentially dangerous offenders and difficult family members, but many people receive personal satisfaction by helping some offenders turn their lives in positive directions. Hours can be long and irregular. The jobs usually require a bachelor's degree in an area such as criminal justice, psychology or a related field. The BLS noted that probation officers and correctional treatment specialists earned an annual mean wage of over $52,000 as of May 2011 and predicted an employment rate increase of 18% in these areas during the 2010-2020 decade.

You can work with underage minors before they are incarcerated by becoming a police officer. The education requirements range from 12th grade education to a bachelor's degree, depending on the employer, but federal positions require a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Academy training is also required and on-the-job training periods follow. According to the BLS, employment opportunities for police and detectives should increase by 7% between 2010 and 2020, which is lower than average. The annual mean wage earned by police and sheriff's patrol officers in May 2011 was about $56,000 and the highest salaries being offered were in New Jersey and California.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Post University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Criminal Justice
      • B.S. in Criminal Justice
    Associate's
      • A.S. in Criminal Justice
      • A.S. in Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Criminal Justice
      • Master: Criminal Justice
    Bachelor's
      • BSCJ: Juvenile Justice
      • BS in Corrections
      • BSCJ: Law Enforcement
      • Bachelor: Criminal Justice
    Associate's
      • AAS in Public Safety and Security
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
      • AAS in Criminal Justice and Criminology
      • Associate: Fire Science
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA: Criminal Justice
      • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
      • BA: Criminal Justice - Homeland Security
    Associate's
      • AA: Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Law - Criminal Justice
      • Master of Arts in Law - National Security
      • Master of Public Administration - Emergency Management and Homeland Security
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Corrections
      • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement
      • Bachelor of Arts in Law and National Security
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Criminal Justice
      • PhD in Business Admin - Criminal Justice
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Homeland Security: Leadership & Policy
      • PhD in Business Admin - Homeland Security: Leadership & Policy
    Master's
      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Criminal Justice
      • MBA - Criminal Justice
      • MBA - Homeland Security
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
      • Undergraduate Specialization - Criminal Forensics
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Benedictine University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MPH - Emergency Preparedness Focus
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Trident University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Homeland Security (BSHLS)
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Utica College

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Data Science: Financial Crime
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation
      • BS in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Financial Investigation
      • BS in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Fraud Prevention and Detection
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Baker College Online

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Criminal Justice - Bachelor
      • Law Enforcement Academy (Police) - Bachelor

Featured Schools

Post University

  • B.S. in Criminal Justice
  • A.S. in Criminal Justice

Education Level:

Kaplan University

  • Master: Criminal Justice
  • BSCJ: Juvenile Justice
  • AAS in Public Safety and Security

Which subject are you interested in?

Saint Leo University

  • BA: Criminal Justice
  • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
  • AA: Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education completed?

Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Law - Criminal Justice
  • Master of Arts in Law - National Security
  • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education completed?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Criminal Justice
  • PhD in Business Admin - Criminal Justice
  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Criminal Justice
  • MBA - Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
  • BS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
  • Undergraduate Specialization - Criminal Forensics

What is your highest level of education?

Benedictine University

  • MPH - Emergency Preparedness Focus

What is your highest level of education?

Trident University

  • Homeland Security (BSHLS)

What is your highest level of education completed?