Correctional service officersprisonersguard offenders and detainees and maintain order in correctional facilities and other places of detention.
People in this occupation:
Correctional service officers who are supervisors are included in this unit group.
Estimated median employment income based on 2021 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))
Note:Estimated median employment income based on 2021 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))
Source: 2021 Job Bank Wage Report
Source: B.C. Labour Market Outlook
10 year expected job openings: 1,080
N/A - Data not available
Correctional officers may perform some or all of the following duties:
Correctional officers typically work 35–40 hours per week. Correctional facilities operate 24 hours a day throughout the year, so correctional officers have to work nights, early mornings, weekends and holidays. Overtime is quite common for correctional officers.
Correctional officers may work outdoors when stationed in watch towers, patrolling the prison grounds (federal corrections only) or when supervising work crews. As a result, workers are sometimes exposed to unpleasant weather conditions. In provincial corrections facilities, correctional officers spend most of their work day indoors; however, they also supervise outdoor work crews. Workers may also have to travel while escorting inmates on temporary leaves.
Correctional officers use surveillance equipment to monitor correctional facility activities and use computers to write and file reports, update records and communicate with other staff. Therefore, some workers may spend a large portion of the work day viewing video monitors, which can cause eye strain and fatigue.
According to industry sources, the inmate-to-staff ratio has increased over the past few years, so there are more inmates per correctional officer.
Correctional officers are sometimes faced with tense interpersonal situations while supervising inmates. These workers use their highly developed communication skills in order to handle such situations. In the rare event that problems cannot be solved through talking, these workers may have to use physical force to maintain inmate order. The workplace can be stressful, but teamwork, peer support and stress management training help to keep stress levels down.
Source: 2016 Census
Completion of secondary school is required. Other requirements include:
To work for federal institutions, correctional officer recruits must successfully complete the Corrections Canada training course. To work for provincial/territorial institutions, correctional officer recruits must complete a basic training course, which is offered and paid for by the employer.
In order to work at provincial correctional facilities in B.C., correctional officers must take the Correctional Officer Physical Abilities Test offered by the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC).
In addition, correctional officers must successfully complete Emergency First Aid level 1 (industry).
Other beneficial qualifications for a person in this career include:
For more information about programs offered specifically for this career, visit EducationPlannerBC.
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The majority of job opportunities in the coming years will result from new job creation. In the long term, new facilities are expected to be built, which will increase the number of jobs in this occupation.
Industry sources report correctional facilities in B.C., particularly in the north, are having difficulty attracting a sufficient number of recruits, which is leading to shortages of correctional officers.
The demand will be highest for those who have completed preparatory courses and who may have previous experience working as correctional officers in social services, at youth correctional facilities, as security officers or in law enforcement.
Experienced correctional officers may be promoted to correctional supervisor and management positions. A minimum of seven years experience is typically required before becoming a correctional supervisor.
With additional education, correctional officers in the provincial and federal systems may become probation or parole officers or correctional treatment specialists.
With additional training and education, these workers may also move into law enforcement occupations, such as police officer.