How to become a Correctional Officer

Correctional officers are responsible for the custody, care, supervision, welfare and rehabilitation of prisoners in prisons and correctional centres. Correctional officers may specialise in areas such as dog squads, prison industries, offender programmes and field supervision of offenders on worksites outside the prison.

Personal requirements of a Correctional Officer

  • Enjoy working with people
  • Normal vision
  • Good interpersonal skills, including being fair, sensitive and patient
  • Assertiveness and self-confidence
  • Good written and verbal communication skills
  • Empathy and cultural awareness
  • A mature, responsible attitude towards managing people
  • Able to resolve conflict and problems
  • Able to cope with the physical demands of the job
  • Able to stay calm in stressful situations
  • Australian citizenship or permanent residency

Education & Training for a Correctional Officer

You can work as a correctional officer without formal qualifications, but employers usually require Year 10. To gain employment, you will need to complete an initial assessment that includes a range of tests. A National Police Check may be required. If your application is successful, you will join the corrective services division in your state or territory and undertake further training. Contact the corrective services department in your state or territory for further information.

Additional Information

Depending on your state or territory, you may need to meet additional requirements. This may relate to age, or holding a Provide First Aid Certificate, relevant clearances or an unrestricted drivers licence.

Duties & Tasks of a Correctional Officer

Correctional officers:

  • search prisoners and cells for illegal/prohibited items
  • lock prisoners in cells
  • observe the conduct and behaviour of prisoners to maintain control, discipline and security within the correctional centre
  • advise if prisoners need special care, such as a visit to a psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker
  • inspect doors, gates, grilles, locks, window bars and other security equipment, ensuring they are secure and functional
  • supervise prisoners at all times of the day, including meal times, recreation periods, sport and work assignments
  • patrol assigned areas and report to supervisors or other workers any breach of rules, unsatisfactory attitudes or adjustment problems of prisoners
  • serve meals to prisoners confined to cells
  • organise clothing, reading material, toiletries or other items needed by prisoners
  • participate in the reception, induction and discharge of prisoners in accordance with procedures
  • process, direct and observe visitors
  • perform escort duties of prisoners, both within the prison and externally when required
  • prepare a variety of reports, including admission and incident reports
  • assist with the risk/needs assessment of prisoners and provide input into their case and sentence management
  • provide leadership and act as a positive role model to assist the rehabilitation process
  • help offenders seek rehabilitation and return to the community by providing basic case management support and supervision
  • provide a timely response to emergencies or breaches of security
  • provide first aid.

Working conditions for a Correctional Officer

Correctional officers can be required to work shifts, including weekends and public holidays, and may be transferred anywhere within their state or territory. In some states, case management is an important aspect of their work. This gives individual officers the chance to work with small groups of 10 to 15 prisoners within a re-education and rehabilitation program.

Employment Opportunities for a Correctional Officer

Correctional officers are employed by the corrective services department in their state or territory. Prisons are located in both metropolitan and regional areas. Successful applicants commence as trainees and, on successful completion of pre-service training, commence employment as a correctional officer. With experience, and sometimes further training, correctional officers can progress to positions ranging from operational and managerial to project and specialist roles.

Avg. weekly wage:


Future growth:


Employment by state:

ACT 1%

NSW 28.8%

NT 3.1%

QLD 17.7%

SA 8.3%

TAS 2%

VIC 22.3%

WA 16.7%

Hours worked:



Lower unemployment

Gender split:

Male 73%

Female 27%

Education level:

Not completed Year 12: 17.1%

Highest qualification is secondary school: 14.5%

Highest qualification is a Certificate 3 or 4: 45.1%

Highest qualification is a Diploma or Advanced Diploma: 13.9%

Highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 8.4%

Highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 2.9%

Age brackets:

15-19 - 0.1%

20-24 - 6.1%

25-34 - 26.8%

35-44 - 22.6%

45-54 - 19.5%

55-59 - 8.2%

60-64 - 7.1%

65 and Over - 9.5%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

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