Maximum Security Prison Guards
Maximum security prison guard careers can greatly benefit from a degree in criminal justice. This can include an online criminal justice degree or a degree acquired from a traditional criminal justice school. Many people who acquire this degree have prior experience in this or other fields. They may want a change from their previous career, such as a career in sociology, psychology, social work or child and family services. Fortunately, these individuals already have many of the skills required to excel in a career as a maximum security prison guard. Obtaining their degree in criminal justice can also provide excellent advancement opportunities, including title and salary increases.
High or maximum security prisons represent the most secure levels of custody in the prison system. The objective is to provide segregated, long-term, housing to inmates who are classified as the highest risk or the “worst” criminals. These inmates pose a threat to national and international security and to facility personnel. Maximum security prison guards must strictly monitor inmates who are typically confined to their cells for up to 23 hours a day. Inmates are escorted in and out of their cellblock by restraints and are highly restricted to where they go and what they do. Prison guard work can be stressful and hazardous at times. They have one of the highest rates for non-fatal on-the-job injuries. Learn more about the advantages of obtaining a criminal justice degree and what it takes to become a maximum security prison guard.
The maximum security prison guard is in charge of monitoring and overseeing individuals awaiting trial and inmates who have been sentenced for their crimes. Their primary goal is to keep the prison safe and secure. It is also their duty to hold each inmate accountable for their own actions to reduce escapes, disturbances and assaults. Wardens hire prison guards to enforce rules and regulations within the institution.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for maximum security prison guards was $42,780 as of May of 2010. Salaries ranged from a low ten percent of $26,040 to a high ten percent of $67,250. Local and state industries are the highest employer of prison guards, paying $41,730 to $43,680 respectively. The federal executive branch remains the highest paying industry with an average annual wage of $53,140 as of May of 2010.
The pay for corrections officers varies depending on education and experience level. Some pay grades may require each candidate to have a minimum of a four-year bachelors in criminal justice or three full years of experience in a related position.
Special Skills Required
Employers expect corrections officers to possess many of the skills possessed by social workers, police officers, educators and counselors. Guards must have excellent interpersonal communication skills to establish safe working relationships with inmates. They must exhibit a strong understanding of all rules and regulations and have the ability to display sound judgment in potentially dangerous situations.
Maximum security prison guards must complete a program at a training academy before being assigned to facility. Qualifications vary by agency but require a guard to be at least 18 to 21 years of age, be a U.S. citizen or maintain a permanent residence, and have no felony convictions. Guards must be in good health and must meet formal standards of physical fitness, hearing and eyesight. Standard testing is used in many jurisdictions to determine applicant suitability to work in a high security environment.
Maximum security prison guards face many risks which could danger one’s physical health. Inmates may be physically fit and sometimes violent towards prison guards. Knowing protocol can actively help to prevent dangerous situations from occurring. Guards must be quick on their feet and fast to react to dangerous situations. They must also develop a thick skin as inmates are likely to make insulting comments. If you are easily offended, corrections may not be the right field of work for you.
• Bureau of Labor Statistics: The Occupational Outlook Handbook provides comprehensive data on correctional officers, including nature of the work, training, qualifications and advancement information, employment, job outlook, projections, earnings, wages and related occupations.
• Federal Bureau of Prisons: Overview of a career as a correctional officer in various security levels, including information on qualifications, education, training and general experience in the field of criminal justice.
• Florida Department of Law Enforcement: List of correctional officer requirements associated with the ethical standards of conduct, including policy, purpose, scope, principals, rationale and rules.
• U.S. Office of Personnel Management: Standards in place for correctional officers, including education and experience requirements, employment interview information and medical requirements, such as vision, hearing, active diseases, disability and mental/emotional stability.
• Corrections Career Guide Resources: The resources made available on this page provide information on careers in corrections, including federal corrections officers.