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College Major of the Week: Detention Officer

September 21, 2009 By: Category: College Major Info, Detention Officer, Employment trends

Interested in criminal justice? Considering a job in corrections? As population grows and mandatory sentencing requirements become more common, there will be an increasing need for detention officers. Check out these facts from the Bureau of Labor Management about the exciting career of a detention officer.


 Photo by Tim Pearce, Los Gatos

What is a detention officer?
A detention officer job involves the management and treatment of convicted offenders and individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial.

What does a detention officer do?
A detention officer works to maintain the peace among inmates by preventing disturbances and escapes, and oversees individuals who are awaiting trial or are serving time in a jail, prison or other reformatory programs.

Detention officer job outlook:
Job growth is expected to be faster than the average for all corrections occupations, but detention officer employment is expected to grow 16 percent from 2006 to 2016. Detention officer job opportunities are expected to increase because of population growth and rising rates of incarceration. Mandatory sentencing guidelines calling for longer sentences and reduced parole for inmates will continue to increase detention officer job opportunities.

Types of detention officer jobs:
There are several jobs available to those with corrections education, but officer-related corrections job titles include juvenile officer, detention officer, prison officer, bailiff, probation officer, parole officer and more.

Average detention officer salary:
In May of 2006, the median salary for a detention officer was $35,760, detention officer supervisor/manager of was $52,580, and median annual earnings of bailiffs were $34,210. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the starting salary for a Federal prison detention officer was $28,862 a year in 2007. Source = Bureau of Labor Statistics

What type of detention officer degree program should you consider?
All detention officer employers require a high school diploma or GED. To get a detention officer job at a facility in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, you must have a crime degree, usually a Bachelor’s in corrections education. You must also have 3 years of full-time experience in the field, so it is important to consider a corrections program that offers corrections internships and career counseling. For a state and local corrections program, a crime degree is not always required, however some state and local corrections agencies require some corrections education college credits or a certificate from a corrections institute. Consider taking the myUsearch college match quiz to find the right detention officer degree program for you.

Additional detention officer job links:

Detention Officer Job Outlook: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Average Detention Officer Salary: