How to Become a Correctional Officer in Georgia?

Correctional officers oversee arrested individuals, or those individuals who are awaiting trial. They also oversee individuals who have been sentenced to serve time in prison or jail. Their primary responsibility is to maintain order in a detention facility. They are also responsible for carrying out the following duties:

  • Reporting and recording behavior of inmates
  • Preventing disturbance in detention facilities
  • Checking inmates for smuggled or illegal items
  • Examining and inspecting the detention facilities to ensure they are up to the standard
  • Assisting in rehabilitation and counseling of criminals
  • Conducting headcounts of prisoners
  • Transporting and escorting inmates

Georgia is home to a number of state and federal detention facilities. Currently, 38 prisons are being operated by the Georgia Department of Corrections. Thus, the demand for correctional officers in Georgia is high. In case you are aspiring to become a correctional officer, the following guidelines will help you by giving an overview of the steps involved in becoming a correctional officer. Since it is a stressful and physically demanding position, you will have to put in a lot of energy and hard work to become a correctional officer in Georgia.

How to Become a Correctional Officer in Georgia
How to Become a Correctional Officer in Georgia

Minimum requirements to become a Correctional Officer in Georgia

In order to become a Correctional Officer in Georgia, you have to meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • You must be a citizen of the United States; you would not be eligible to apply if you are still in the process of getting a US citizenship
  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You must hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma; this is the minimum educational criteria that is applicable to all counties across Georgia
  • You must not have any kind of felony convictions: a criminal investigation is done to ensure that the candidate does not have a criminal background
  • You need to meet the minimum physical requirements; this includes meeting the hearing and vision requirements: You can be rejected if you have a physical condition that would in any way limit the job functions you are expected to perform. You should have a good peripheral vision and at least 20/40 vision. You should also have near normal hearing ability; the hearing loss should not be higher than 24 decibels.

Steps to becoming a Correctional Officer in Georgia

If you meet all of the above requirements, you can then start with the application process

Step 1: Fill out the application forms available online

The first step is to go online and complete the application form available on the GDC Employment site. You can find information on locations, time slots, testing dates on the same website. Exams are offered multiple times during the year, so you can book a test date and slot according to your convenience.

Step 2: Appear for the correctional officer test

Once your application is approved, you will have to appear for the correctional officer test. This test has three sections and is composed of multiple choice questions. This exam will include questions related to decision making ability, inmate security, reading comprehension, mathematics, grammar, general knowledge and situational reasoning. Within three weeks of taking the test, the scores will be emailed to you. The minimum passing score for the test is 67. A higher test score will make you more desirable to state and private correction institutes. If you are successful in obtaining the minimum score, you will be placed on a list of job applicants who will be considered for future vacancies.

Step 3: Watch out for notices and mails

After taking the test, you will have to stay vigilant and should watch out for notices and mails regarding job interviews. If you fail to respond to interview requests, your name will be taken off the list of available applicants.

Step 4: Complete the Basic Correctional Officer Training

If you pass the correctional officer test, you will be asked to undergo a 5 week training course at a training academy. You will be given a mix of training, ranging from on field training, classroom training and physical training. Under the Basic Correctional Officer Training (BCOT), you will be taught a number of skills, such as emergency procedures, use of force/use of restraint, etc. The basic training will cover a number of courses such as fire arms training, self-defense, security and supervision, riot prevention and control, environmental procedures, health and human services, prisoner discipline, first aid/CPR procedures, community safety, etc. Both written and physical exams will be taken to assess your progress. Due to the physical and mental demands of the nature of the job, a lot of emphasis is placed on physical conditioning during the academy training. You will be expected to complete a number of hours of exercise; these include obstacle courses, muscle conditioning, running and walking, among other. You will also be required to pass the ASSET and COMPASS tests, or submit ACT/SAT scores to complete your training.

Step 5: Find employment as a correctional officer

Once you have completed your training, the next step is to find employment. There are four primary employers of correctional officers in the US; private prisons, the local government, the state government and the federal government. The correctional officers can work in county or city jails, youth correctional facilities, prisons or prison camps. After some years of gaining experience, some officers get training to become wardens, assistant wardens or sergeants.

How much do correctional officers make in Georgia?

The table below shows the annual mean wages, mean hourly wages and median hourly wages of correctional officers and jailers in Georgia. The following data has been taken from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and represent statistics as of May 2017.

Annual Mean Wage $33,960
Mean Hourly Wage $16.33
Median Hourly Wage $16.32

By fulfilling the above mentioned qualifications and following the step by step approach to becoming a correctional officer in Georgia, you would enhance your prospects of getting hired as a correctional officer in Georgia.