Can a Felon become a Correctional Officer

What is a correctional officer?

Correctional officers enforce rules and regulations and maintain order and safety inside jails or prisons. Their job responsibilities usually include the following

  • Supervising activities of inmates.
  • Search inmates for any prohibited or contraband items.
  • Reporting about inmates conduct.
  • Escorting and transporting inmates in and around the facility
  • Enforce rules and maintain order withing jails of prisons, or correctional facilities.

Requirements to become a correctional officer

If you want to become a correctional officer, it is necessary to know the requirements that you need to fulfil. Hiring process and eligibility criteria depends on the institution and the state laws for correctional officers.

Although the requirements vary from state to state, some of the most common ones are:

  1. Must be a U.S. citizen
  2. Must be at least 18 years of age and 21 years in some states
  3. Have a GED or high school diploma
  4. No felony conviction (“Clean” criminal record)
  5. A valid driver’s license
  6. Physically capable of doing the job
  7. Eligible to carry a concealed weapon in some states

Can felons become Correctional Officers?

If you are an ex-felon who wants to become a correctional officer, you might wonder if it’s actually possible? Does our law allow felons to become correctional officers?

Unfortunately, the answer is “NO”. A felony conviction on your record is an automatic disqualifier.

However, if you were a minor when the offense occurred, it might not lead to automatic disqualification. But again, this depends on the nature of your crime and also the state laws for hiring.

Can you become a correctional officer with a Misdemeanor?

For misdemeanor charges, the situation is not that bad.  Some states might still hire you if the nature of the offense is not serious (minor offenses).

Certain charges like drug offenses and domestic violence changes and sexual misconduct might will not be overlooked in most cases.

Can you become a correctional officer with a DUI/DWI?

A felony conviction will automatically disqualify you from becoming a correctional officer but a person with DUI/DWI record still has a chance. Not all states require you to have a clean driving record.

In some states, people with no more than two DUI/DWI are eligible to become correctional officers. A history of DWIs and multiple traffic violations, having had a license suspended or revoked multiple times, or a lot of parking/speeding tickets can become an issue in the hiring process.

Correctional Officer Background check

For a correctional officer’s job, background checks are typically done as a part of the hiring process by departments.

Generally, background checks include your criminal history, driving record, credit reports, employment history, etc. So, it is important to understand how this can impact your probability of getting hiring.

As mentioned above, felony offenses or DUI/DWI records will lower you chances of getting hired. A bad credit record is yet another factor that will impact you. Credit report is used to assess if the job applicant is a responsible person.

Your lifestyle reflects on your credit report and tells a clear story about your financial habits. So, make sure make your loan payments on time and don’t default on it.

A good idea is to get a credit report from the credit bureau so that you can take necessary steps to rebuild your credit score and clean up your credit report.

What are the Educational/Training requirements to become a correctional officer?

Educational qualifications required to become a correctional officer vary by state and the agency. Most agencies require at least a high school diploma or a GED or equivalent.

To work in federal prisons, the Federal Bureau of Prisons requires at least a Bachelors Degree or prior working experience. Apart from educational qualifications, some important qualities that a correctional officer must possess are – Decision Making Skills, Interpersonal Skills, Self-Discipline, Negotiating Skills, Detail Oriented and Physical Strength.  

Every applicant has to undergo training at a Correctional Officers Training Academy. They have to pass an examination that includes written and physical tests to get admitted to the academy. The training at the academy could last from a few weeks to a few months.

How much do correctional officers earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for correctional officers was $45,180 in May 2019. Salary also depends on whether its an entry level or a senior position.

Also, the location of your employment, prior experience and level of education will play a significant role in determining your pay scale. Officers working in California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island earn the highest salaries in the country. Officers working in federal prisons earn more compared to those working in state or county jails.

Texas has the highest number of correctional officers currently employing more than 47,000 officers. The state of California provides the highest wages to correctional officers which can go up to $78,000 annually.


Chances of making a career as a correctional officer are practically zero if you are a convicted felon. However, for misdemeanor involving minor offense, there is still a chance.

To boost your chances of employment, you should consider getting your records expunged as it will always pop up in background checks. If not for this role, expungement might help you while looking out for other career opportunities.