Corrections Agencies

The following is a list of positions for which federal, state, and local agencies hire people with criminal justice backgrounds. If you’re looking for actual job postings to which you may apply, visit the resources page for more information on individual organizations. This page merely offers descriptions of jobs for which a CJ degree would prepare you.

Corrections Counselor

Under general supervision, the corrections counselor provides a variety of counseling services for the inmate population of a correctional facility. Positions may vary as to predominant job function or area of specialization from facility to facility. Areas of specialization include vocational counseling, substance abuse counseling and guidance for inmates on work release. A corrections counselor may perform related work as required. The corrections counselor typically

  • Interviews inmates upon arrival to facility and/or specific program; writes summary of the interview; gathers pertinent information; and drafts outlines of the proposed treatment, employment strategy, or coursework.
  • Regularly meets with inmates to assess problems and inform them of changes to the programs or schedule
  • Maintains inmates’ permanent files
  • Writes monthly reports documenting work with inmates, their achievements, and the activities held or problems encountered
  • Conducts crisis counseling and deals with potential violent or suicidal inmates to stabilize their behavior
  • Arranges for ministerial, psychological, or employment counseling outside the facility
  • Teaches interpersonal skills to help inmates obtain and retain employment
  • May assist correctional officers in living units


Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, corrections, psychology, sociology, counseling, criminology, social work, education, therapeutic recreation, or a closely related field (may substitute related experience for training on a year-for-year basis)

Correctional Officer

Correctional officers are responsible for overseeing individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to serve time in a jail, reformatory, or penitentiary. Correctional officers maintain security and inmate accountability to prevent disturbances, assaults, and escapes. Officers have no law enforcement responsibilities outside the institution where they work

Most correctional officers are employed in State and Federal prisons, watching over the approximately 1.4 million offenders who are incarcerated there at any given time. Other correctional officers oversee individuals being held by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service pending release or deportation, or work for correctional institutions that are run by private for-profit organizations.

Although both jails and prisons can be dangerous places to work, prison populations are more stable than jail populations, and correctional officers in prisons know the security and custodial requirements of the prisoners with whom they are dealing.


  • High school diploma/GED and two years of work experience (promotion prospects may be enhanced by obtaining a postsecondary education)
  • The Federal Bureau of Prisons requires at least a bachelor’s degree and three years of full-time experience providing counseling, assistance, or supervision to individuals (or equivalent combination of education and experience)
  • At least 18-21 years old, U.S. citizen, no prior felony convictions
  • Must pass physical, vision, hearing, and drug tests
  • Many jurisdictions use standard tests to determine applicant suitability to work in a correctional environment. Good judgment and the ability to think and act quickly are indispensable.

More Information

Visit our Resources page for links to local, state, and federal agencies and job postings.