Correctional Officer

Correctional officers supervise prisoners. They maintain order in places where prisoners are kept and make sure these places are secure. Good communication is essential.

Schooling: 

High school or CEGEP

Degree Required: 

High school diploma and additional training depending on the employer

Job Prospects: 

Good

Skills Needed: 

Good with people

Ability to be firm

Control over your emotions

Description

Prison is a tough environment. Correctional officers have to adapt well to changing conditions. They deal with tense and difficult situations, much like psychologists, paramedics and fire fighters. It’s difficult but important work.   

Correctional officers supervise prisoners and maintain order in places where prisoners are kept. They also make sure that prisoners, coworkers and visitors are safe. They even help prisoners return to the community.  

Correctional officers patrol areas where prisoners are kept. They conduct searches. At times they have to use physical force and arrest people. Communication is their most important tool. 

To be a correctional officer, you need good judgment and be able to form good relationships with people. You must be able to control your emotions and be firm.  

Day-to-Day Work

Main Duties

  • maintain order and watch over places where prisoners are kept
  • make sure rules are followed and use physical or verbal force when necessary
  • accompany prisoners to the hospital or to court
  • evaluate prisoners’ records and help them return to the community

Work Environment

Correctional officers are employed by the federal and provincial governments. They usually work in penitentiaries or prisons.

Penitentiaries are run by the federal government.They are for people with sentences (punishments) of two years or more.

Prisons are run by the provincial government. They are for people with sentences of less than two years.

Correctional officers sometimes work outside the prison or penitentiary, for example, when accompanying prisoners to court or to the hospital.

Training

Quebec Government Requirements

You must have a high school diploma and at least two years of studies after high school in a related field.

  • Some CEGEPs offer programs in correctional intervention.
  • Other programs also lead to a career as a correctional officer, such as delinquency or social intervention programs.

You must pass a written test and a medical exam. The government will also check whether you have a criminal record.

Federal Government Requirements

You must have the following:

  • high school diploma
  • certificate in standard first aid and CPR
  • class 4A driver’s licence (emergency vehicles)

You must pass written tests, go for an interview and have your fingerprints taken. You must also complete a medical questionnaire and give the government your written consent to do a background check.

Salary

Correctional officers are employed by the government. Their salaries are set in their union contract.

In 2015, correctional officers working for the Quebec government earned between $48,782 and $61,859 a year.

In 2015, correctional officers working for the federal government earned between $55,970 and $74,985 a year.

To learn more

The Heading for Success website has information about correctional officers, including a description of the work they do, job prospects and necessary training.

The Correctional Service Canada website has information about correctional officers in the federal government and the selection process.

The television show Le droit de savoir featured correctional officers in one of its episodes (in French only).