How to Become a Correctional Officer in Louisiana?

The Louisiana Department of Corrections has been protecting the citizens of the state for 180 years now. It currently has 6,200 people working in various capacities to maintain the law and order situation in the state and federal prisons. The Department of Public Safety & Corrections – Corrections Services is always on the lookout for fresh officers. Successful candidates typically have the following qualities:

  • Have sound judgment
  • Want to make Louisiana a better and safer place to live
  • Are self-motivated
  • Enjoy working with people
  • Have strong ethics
  • Take pride in accomplishments

If you are a resident of Louisiana and have these qualities, you are an ideal candidate to become a correctional officer in Louisiana. The following information regarding requirements, eligibility criteria and steps to become a correctional officer in Louisiana would be of interest to you.

How to Become a Correctional Officer in Louisiana
How to Become a Correctional Officer in Louisiana

Louisiana Correctional Officer Requirements

To become a Correctional Officer in Louisiana, you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Be a US citizen
  • Be at least 20 years old
  • Have a clean criminal record with no felony convictions or misdemeanor charges involving domestic violence
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Have no substantial financial debts

If you meet these eligibility criteria, you can then move on to the following steps to become a correctional officer in Louisiana.

Steps to Become a Correctional Officer in Louisiana

Step 1: Get a High School Diploma or GED

For most correctional officer jobs, a high school diploma or a GED would be sufficient for entry level positions. However, certain employers might want candidates with higher education credentials, especially those who are hiring for advanced positions.

Step 2: Get a Bachelor’s Degree (If Required)

A bachelor’s degree would be a requirement, especially at the federal level. In some cases, this 4-year long degree can be substituted with three years of experience requirement. For applicants who aspire to obtain higher positions in the departments, such as a warden, a bachelor’s degree or higher is necessary.

Step 3: Clear the Entrance Exam

Most jurisdictions will have some sort of an exam in place. This exam would involve physical as well as written components. The physical element will focus on ensuring that aspiring correctional officers can handle the rigorous duty requirements of the job, especially in cases of riots or other disturbances. The written examination on the other hand focuses on legal issues that are required during the process of incarceration. Some jurisdictions may also require a psychological exam, which ensures that the potential officer is capable of handling the emotional and mental toll that comes with working with inmates.

Step 4: Enter a Training Academy

Before you can begin working as an officer in any capacity, you need to have completed a police training academy course. Those who do not have any prior experience will need to enroll in a police academy in their jurisdiction. This program can last a few weeks and may even go on for a few months. The police training will teach aspiring officers the use of weapons, self-defense techniques, officer safety mechanisms, inmate handling, crisis management and physical conditioning. This training would come in handy at different stages of your work as a correctional officer.

Step 5: Get some Experience

The day-to-day tasks performed by a correctional officer can be learned through on-the-job training and experience. After aspiring officers have completed the training academy course, they will be required to start accruing valuable experience relevant to their field. This experience will contribute in making them more effective officers and will also allow for greater professional development in the future. Make sure you take full advantage of every opportunity that comes your way – for instance, don’t skip out on any chances to learn new things, relating to firearms training, psychological counseling methods and updates in the legal system.

Step 6: Advance

You can either advance through experience or by getting a higher educational degree. Getting additional credentials can increase the chances for a pay increase and promotion. You may choose to major in management, psychology or communications to prepare yourself for higher positions on the managerial side of prisons. You may also study about the use of non-lethal weapons or how to lead riot teams. Additional knowledge relevant to any aspect of being a correctional officer would help you in advancing in your career.

How long does it take to become a Correctional Officer in Louisiana?

The time taken to become a correctional officer will vary according to multiple factors. For instance, working in local prisons would only require a high school diploma, while working in a federal prison would require at least a 4-year long undergraduate degree to be eligible. Add to this the on-the-job training sessions, which may last up to several months in some cases. All in all, it would take a substantial investment of time, money and effort in order to get the right education, experience and qualifications to become a correctional officer.

How much does a Correctional Officer make in Louisiana?

Correctional Officers in Louisiana made an annual mean income of $34,370, which is lower than the national mean wage of $49,300, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018 data for Correctional Officers and Jailers.

Career Outlook for becoming a Correctional Officer in Louisiana

Currently, Louisiana has 7,980 correctional officers employed in its many state and local prisons, as per data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018. O*Net Online provides the statistics for growth and employment change in the same field in Louisiana. According to the latest data on O*Net Online for Correctional Officers and Jailers, the employment in this sector is expected to drop slightly, going from 8,810 in 2016 to 8,300 in 2026 – making it a percentage change of -6%. Projected annual job openings in the state are 640.
The decreasing demand can be attributed to the local and state budget constraints and prison population levels. These factors eventually end up determining how many correctional officers are required.
The high costs of keeping people in prison have pushed many state governments to shorten prison terms and come up with alternatives to the prison system. With numerous community-based programs now in place for rehabilitation of prisoners, coupled with a decrease in repeated offenses, the prisoner count is expected to come down.
Correctional officers will continue to look over the prisons and have a positive psychological effect on the people arrested and put in jails every year. Job prospects should still be positive, due to the need to replace correctional officers who retire or move to other occupations.
Note: All statistical data is taken from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics or O*Net Online for Correctional Officers and Jailers.