Correctional Officers and Bailiffs: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
Correctional officers and bailiffs must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent.
Training Required
Correctional officers and bailiffs complete training at an academy. Training typically lasts several months, but this varies by state. The International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training maintains links to states Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) programs. Academy trainees receive instruction in a number of subjects, including self-defense, institutional policies, regulations, operations, and security procedures.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: -7% (Decline)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Median pay: How much do Correctional Officers and Bailiffs make?
$42,820 Annual Salary
$20.59 per hour

Correctional officers are responsible for overseeing individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been sentenced to serve time in jail or prison. Bailiffs, also known as marshals or court officers, are law enforcement officers who maintain safety and order in courtrooms. Their duties, which vary by court, include enforcing courtroom rules, assisting judges, guarding juries, delivering court documents, and providing general security for courthouses.

What do Correctional Officers and Bailiffs do?

Correctional officers typically do the following:

  • Enforce rules and keep order within jails or prisons
  • Supervise activities of inmates
  • Inspect facilities to ensure that they meet security and safety standards
  • Search inmates for contraband items
  • Report on inmate conduct
  • Escort and transport inmates

Bailiffs typically do the following:

  • Ensure the security of the courtroom
  • Enforce courtroom rules
  • Follow court procedures
  • Escort judges, jurors, witnesses, and prisoners
  • Handle evidence and court documents

Inside the prison or jail, correctional officers enforce rules and regulations. They maintain security by preventing disturbances, assaults, and escapes, and by inspecting facilities. They check cells and other areas for unsanitary conditions, contraband, signs of a security breach (such as tampering with window bars and doors), and other rule violations. Officers also inspect mail and visitors for prohibited items. They write reports and fill out daily logs detailing inmate behavior and anything else of note that occurred during their shift.

Correctional officers may have to restrain inmates in handcuffs and leg irons to escort them safely to and from cells and to see authorized visitors. Officers also escort prisoners to courtrooms, medical facilities, and other destinations.

Bailiffs specific duties vary by court, but their primary duty is to maintain order and security in courts of law. They enforce courtroom procedures that protect the integrity of the legal process. For example, they ensure that attorneys and witnesses do not influence juries outside of the courtroom, and they also may isolate juries from the public in some circumstances. As a neutral party, they may handle evidence during court hearings to ensure that only permitted evidence is displayed.

Careers for Correctional Officers and Bailiffs

  • Bailiffs
  • Certified detention deputies
  • City bailiffs
  • Convict guards
  • Correction officers
  • Correctional guards
  • Correctional sergeants
  • County bailiffs
  • Court bailiffs
  • Court officers
  • Court security officers
  • Deputy bailiffs
  • Detention deputies
  • Detention officers
  • Jail guards
  • Juvenile corrections officers
  • Penal officers
  • Prison guards
  • Prison officers

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