How to Become a Correctional Officer in Florida?

Correctional officers generally work in penitentiaries, reformatories, jails, prisons and courthouses. Their job is to control and oversee arrested individuals who have been incarcerated and convicted, or those who are awaiting trial. Their duties typically involve:

  • Patrolling work areas and quarters
  • Screening, supervising and monitoring inmate visitor traffic
  • Checking inmate mail for illegal items
  • Maintaining a record of supplies and equipment
  • Maintaining security during transportation of inmates
  • Observing the traffic around and within the compounds
  • Supervising inmates during shower time, recreation time and lunch hours
  • Maintaining the security of the detention institution; inspecting cells and outside areas

In terms of employment of correctional officers by state, Florida ranks at No.4 in the US. With over 33,000 correctional officers in the state, Florida is one of the biggest employers in this field in the entire country.

How to Become a Correctional Officer in Florida
How to Become a Correctional Officer in Florida

Minimum requirements to become a Correctional Officer in Florida

The minimum requirements to become a correctional officer are mentioned below:

  • You must be at least 19 years old
  • You must be a citizen of the United States
  • You should hold a high school diploma or an equivalent of that
  • You should have a valid driver’s license
  • You should be able to pass the physical exam and the drug test; you should be physically fit and be able to perform physical tasks like run, stair climb, obstacle course and dummy drag
  • You should be able to pass a background check, which includes; no conviction of domestic violence and no felony convictions
  • You should have a good moral character; this is verified through a background investigation
  • You should not have a dishonorable discharge from the US Armed Forces

Steps involved in becoming a correctional officer in Florida

The following steps are involved in becoming a correctional officer in Florida:

Step 1: Fill out the application form online

The first step is to go to the State of Florida website and apply for the position of the Correctional officer. Applications for this position are accepted on a continuous basis. After you have applied online, you will receive a confirmation email from the Florida Department of Corrections.

Step 2: Submit the required documents

After the online application is submitted, you will be emailed a Willingness Questionnaire and a Florida Department of Corrections Supplemental Application. These will be emailed the day after you have submitted your initial application. Check your spam and junk folders periodically in case the emails go there.
Truthfulness and thoroughness will be required when filling in the willingness questionnaire and the supplemental application. All the information provided by you will be checked for accuracy during the background investigation. You can be eliminated in the selection process if you deliberately omit important information from you application.

Step 3: Clear the background check

Upon completion of the first two stages, the background screening will begin. You should be able to pass the physical test; this is taken by a certified advanced registered nurse, physician assistant or a licensed physician. You will also need to pass the character check, which is part of the background screening.
You can be disqualified on the basis of many factors if they are discovered during this stage. These disqualifying factors include a negative employment history, failure to comply with the legal obligations, driving under influence of alcohol/drugs, driver’s license suspensions, serious traffic offences and misdemeanor convictions. You will be notified through email when you pass the background check.

Step 4: Clear the Florida Basic Abilities Test (FBAT)

This exam tests an individual’s reasoning skills (both deductive and inductive reasoning), problem sensitivity, memorization, spatial orientation, information ordering, written expression and comprehension. The test is based on a multiple choice question format. Most training schools offer FBAT and its results are valid for 4 years. You need to complete this test before entering the basic recruit training program. The Florida Basic Abilities Test is administered only in Florida.

Step 5: Complete the basic recruit training program

After passing the FBAT, you will undergo training at the Basic Correctional Academy. This will be a 420 hour training program. The Federal Department of Corrections has a number of training facilities throughout Florida. Many courses are covered during the training program. The topics include defensive tactics, criminal justice, firearms, First Aid/CPR, responding to emergency, supervising special populations, supervising in a correctional facility, officer safety, etc. The recruits are paid by FDC while they undergo training.

Step 6: Pass the State Officer Certification Exam (SOCE)

You will get authorization to appear for these exams once you graduate from the training academy. You can take this exam a total of three times in the eligibility period (this eligibility period is for 4 years). You will be allowed one initial attempt and two retake attempts. When you are assigned to an institute, you will be required to undergo on the job training. Once you become part of the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC), you can work your way up to Colonel, Assistant Warden and Warden. Correctional officer can also become part of special teams like K-9 units, interdiction units, crisis response team, rapid response team and many other teams. Thus, the FDC offers exciting career opportunities to correctional officers.
In case you have any queries related to the application process, you can call (850) 717-3000 and the Florida Department of Corrections Recruitment Centre will assist you.

How much do correctional officers make in Florida?

The following wage estimates of correctional officers and jailers have been taken from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and represent wage statistics as of May 2017. The data shows that the annual mean wage and the hourly mean wage in Florida is lower than the national wage estimates.

Wages National estimates State estimates
Annual mean wage $47,600 $42,670
Mean hourly wage $22.88 $20.51

Conclusion

The Corrections Department of Florida offers exciting career opportunities for correctional officers. Becoming part of this team means that you are joining a family of dedicated women and men who are committed to ensuring the safety of public throughout Florida. If you think that your personality is suited for this profession, apply right away.