All You Need To Know About A Jailor Career

You think about becoming a jailer but are not entirely sure whether this is the right career path for you or not?

Great! This article is exactly for you since I will show you everything you need to know about being a jailer in the following chapters.

Not only will you get to know how much you can make as a jailer, but we will also talk about job satisfaction, future outlook, duties, working hours, work-life balance, educational requirements and much more.

After reading this article, you will have a much better idea of whether you still want to become a jailer or rather want to go for a different job instead.

Without further ado, let’s get right into it!

Table of Contents

What does a Jailer do?

Jailers make sure that everything in prison works according to plan.

Not only are they responsible to resolve conflicts between prisoners, but they also have to make sure that processes work as smoothly as possible so that everyone in prison can spend his or her time in a safe manner.

Responsibilities & Duties of a Jailer

  • Assuring high security standards
  • Making sure that inmates go along with each other
  • Resolving conflicts between inmates
  • Processing of inmates when they first arrive at a correctional facility
  • Identifying prisoners
  • Creatin of prison records
  • Conducting cell inspections
  • Disciplinary actions for inmates who don’t play in line with the rules
  • Escorting inmates through prisons in a safe manner
  • Keeping prisons clean
  • Making sure that legal requirements are met

What a Typical Day of a Jailer looks like?

Depending on the shift they have, jailers either get to work in the early morning or in the late afternoon.

The first thing they do is to register and meet up with their boss to get the plan for the day.

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After doing some organizational work, correctional officers make sure that inmates get from A to B in a safe manner.

They also inspect cells and make sure that no harmful substances can be used by prisoners.

In case there are conflicts between inmates, jailers are also responsible for finding solutions to those conflicts.

After working in this manner for many hours, jailors quit their shift either in the late afternoon or in the early morning, depending on whether you work day shifts or night shifts.

Jailer Salary 2021

Jailer salary brackets 2021

Salary BracketsSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Top 10 %> $72,000> $35.93
Top 25 %$61,000 – $65,000$30.44 – $32.38
Bottom 25 %$37,000 – $41,000$18.43 – $20.46
Bottom 10 %$29,000 – $34,000$14.39 – $16.89
Range$29,000 – $78,000$14.39 – $38.95
Average (Mean)$49,000$24.48
Median$47,000$23.41

Jailer salary 2021 by expert level

Level of ExperienceSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Entry level$29,000 – $35,000$14.39 – $17.42
Junior$32,000 – $43,000$15.92 – $21.48
Professional$41,000 – $48,000$20.44 – $23.93
Senior Professional$46,000 – $62,000$22.91 – $30.88
Expert$60,000 – $73,000$29.94 – $36.45
Top Expert$71,000 – $78,000$35.39 – $38.92

Jailer salary by state 2021 (average)

StateSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Alabama$47,200$23.58
Alaska$49,700$24.83
Arizona$45,800$22.89
Arkansas$46,900$23.42
California$56,200$28.09
Colorado$51,800$25.89
Connecticut$48,600$24.27
Delaware$49,700$24.83
District of Columbia$51,100$25.52
Florida$50,900$25.38
Georgia$47,200$23.57
Guam$49,500$24.73
Hawaii$52,600$26.28
Idaho$50,800$25.39
Illinois$48,700$24.33
Indiana$47,300$23.64
Iowa$49,600$24.78
Kansas$48,500$24.24
Kentucky$50,100$25.03
Louisiana$49,400$24.68
Maine$51,200$25.59
Maryland$53,600$26.78
Massachusetts$55,800$27.88
Michigan$49,700$24.83
Minnesota$46,300$23.14
Mississippi$45,400$22.67
Missouri$46,800$23.37
Montana$48,200$24.08
Nebraska$47,600$23.79
Nevada$49,100$24.53
New Hampshire$53,700$26.84
New Jersey$54,400$27.19
New Mexico$49,300$24.62
New York$55,600$27.79
North Carolina$50,900$25.43
North Dakota$49,200$24.58
Ohio$51,400$25.69
Oklahoma$52,700$26.34
Oregon$50,600$25.27
Pennsylvania$51,800$25.89
Rhode Island$49,300$24.63
South Carolina$51,900$25.94
South Dakota$48,200$24.08
Tennessee$50,600$25.28
Texas$49,300$24.64
Utah$52,700$26.33
Vermont$47,600$23.78
Virginia$49,900$24.94
Washington$53,800$26.89
West Virginia$51,400$25.68
Wisconsin$50,300$25.13
Wyoming$48,100$24.03

Job Security of Jailers

Jailers have pretty decent job security since not many people want to work in this field anymore and with a growing world population, an increasing number of people will go to jail and an increasing number of correctional officers will be needed.

Future Job Prospects of Jailers

Not only current job prospects are pretty good, but jailers also enjoy a pretty solid future outlook since there will be a shortage of qualified correctional officers in the near future and you will almost have freedom of choice what prison you want to work for.

Working Hours of Jailers

If you work day shifts, you will start your workday between 7 and 9 a.m. and finish your workday between 4 and 6 p.m.

If you work night shifts, you will start your workday between 8 and 10 p.m. and finish your workday between 4 and 6 a.m.

Job Satisfaction of Jailers

Most jailers are not happy with what they are doing for a living since working in a prison can be dangerous and inmates are also often insulting.

Moreover, correctional officers also make pretty poor money and are often not even able to cover their basic expenses.

Promotion Opportunities of Jailers

There are not many promotion opportunities for jailers.

Once you work in this field, you will do the same job for many years or even decades without getting any chances of climbing the hierarchy anytime soon.

Career Levels of Jailers

  • Junior jailer
  • Senior jailer
  • Jailer with personnel responsibility
  • Prison director

Fields and Types of Jailers

  • Jailers focused on young people
  • Jailers specialized in minor incidents
  • Jailers responsible for serious criminals
  • Jailers responsible for educational facilities within a prison
  • Jailers focused on social work inside prisons
  • Jailers who assure overall security inside prisons
  • Jailers specialized in instructing new prison officers
  • Jailers searching for harmful substances
  • Jailers specialized in resolving conflicts between inmates

Educational Requirements for Jailers

You don’t need to get a college degree for becoming a jailer in most states.

Instead, finishing high school will often be enough to start a career in this field.

How to become a Jailer

  1. Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being a correctional officer
  2. Finish high school with decent grades
  3. Apply for jobs as a correctional officer
  4. Master the job interview
  5. Choose your favorite officer
  6. Sign your labor contract
  7. Learn a lot on the job
  8. Get better every day
  9. Get into a leading position

Character Traits you need as a Jailer

  • You should not be anxious and brave enough to deal with tough inmates
  • Courage helps to resolve conflicts between prisoners
  • You should not get discouraged by drawbacks
  • Stable mindset helps you overcome difficult times
  • Willingness to work in a rather unpleasant environment
  • Ability to deal with snarky comments in a healthy manner
  • Willingness to work in a low-wage environment
  • You should not care about what people think
  • Willingness to spend your time in a risky work environment

Hard Skills for Jailers

  • Good knowledge of how to handle difficult inmates
  • Good knowledge of safety rules
  • Knowledge of self-defense and how to use it in case of emergency
  • Expertise in resolving conflicts
  • Knowledge of emergency rules
  • Expertise in doing security checks
  • Digital skills help you get your work done faster
  • Knowledge of how to track and trace inmates
  • Knowledge of legal rules and regulations inside a prison

Soft Skills for Jailers

  • Empathy for the problems of inmates
  • Good people skills help you resolve conflicts
  • You should have a talent for seeing conflicts before they even occur
  • Persistence is key to succeeding in this job in the long run
  • Confidence helps to deal with difficult situations
  • You should know how to calm people down
  • Good judgement skills
  • De-escalation skills help as well
  • You should be a tough character so that inmates are not able to bring you down

Exit Options for Jailers

Since correctional officers are pretty specialized and don’t learn many skills needed in the job market, they have pretty poor exit options and once you start working as a jailer, chances are that you will get trapped in this field for quite a long time.

Jailer – Similar Careers

  • Corrections nurse
  • Bodyguard
  • Case manager
  • Police officer
  • Prison chef
  • Probation officer
  • Social worker
  • Chaplain
  • Pretrial officer
  • Compliance officer

Jailer Career FAQs

Is working as a jailer physically demanding?

Working as a jailer can be physically demanding from time to time since you may have to resolve conflicts between inmates.

In turn, you will have to separate conflicting parties to assure the overall safety in the prison you work for and you should therefore be in good physical condition if you want to do this job.

Is working as a jailer mentally demanding?

Working as a correctional officer is not heavily mentally demanding.

Even though you have to comply with safety standards to make sure that everything goes according to plan, you still don’t have to stress your brain as much as many other people like investment bankers or financial analysts who have to work with complex models all day long.

Is it dangerous to work as a jailer?

Working as a jailer can be risky since there are often conflicts between inmates and you will be the one who is responsible to solve those issues.

Since some prisoners will have knives or other unpleasant things, you will often be at great risk of getting injured at your workplace and before deciding on becoming a jailer, you should make sure that you are really willing to take this risk or if you rather want to work in a safer job instead.

How long do jailers stay in their jobs?

Correctional officers often stay in their jobs for decades since they are pretty specialized and will have a hard time finding a job in a different field, even though many of them are not happy with their overall working conditions and secretly with to switch fields.

Is it easy for jailers to find a new job?

It is pretty easy for jailers to find a new job in this field since there is a lack of qualified correctional officers in many states and regions and in case you want to move to another state or lose your job for some reason, chances are that you will find a new job rather quickly.

Is it hard to switch from being a jailer to another field of work?

While jailers have an easy time finding a new job in the prison industry, they are also pretty specialized and have a hard time finding a new job in a different field.

Therefore, before you decide on becoming a jailer, make sure that this is really what you want to do for quite a long time since it will be pretty hard for you to get out of this industry.

Do jailers have a high social status?

Correctional officers don’t have a high social standing.

Even though they do a pretty important job for society, jailers are still not admired by the general public and if you want to work in a field where people really appreciate your work and want to be like you, you should rather become a doctor or dentist instead.

Can you help out your family and friends as a jailer?

As a jailer, you will not be able to help out your loved ones that much since you will not learn many skills that are important for your private life.

For instance, while craftsmen like welders or roofers can fix and install many things around the home, you as a jailer will not be able to carry out those tasks and may therefore have a rather low standing among your circle of friends.

Can jailers work remotely?

Correctional officers are not able to work remotely.

Instead, they have to be present at their workplace in person and while many other people who work in classical office jobs will be able to work remotely, you will have to spend lots of time and money commuting to work and back.

Is it easy to find a partner as a jailer?

It is not easy to find a partner for a long-term relationship as a jailer since you will make pretty poor money and will not be considered a good provider.

Moreover, you will also be at great risk at work and many people will not want to get into a relationship with you since they might fear you will lose your life sooner or later.

Do jailers have to work on weekends?

You will also sometimes have to work on weekends as a jailer since prisons are operated 24/7 and inmates have to be monitored all day and night long from Monday to Friday.

Hence, if you are not willing to work during weekends, you should not become a prison officer but rather go for a standard 9 to 5 office job instead.

Do jailers have to work on holidays?

Jailers sometimes also have to work on holidays.

This doesn’t mean that you have to work all of them but rather that you have to be prepared for working some of those days while many other people will be able to enjoy those holidays with their families.

Do jailers have to work at nighttime?

Correctional officers often have to work at nighttime.

Hence, if you are not willing to work during those unpleasant hours but rather want to be at home with your loved ones, you should not become a jailer but rather go for a standard 9 to 5 job.

Do you have to travel as a jailer?

You don’t have to travel as a jailer.

While many other people who work in demanding office jobs have to do business trips on a regular basis and will be away from home quite often, you as a correctional officer can stay at home with your loved ones.

Are jailer pensions good?

Since jailers don’t make good money during their active careers, also their pensions will be rather low and correctional officers are often also not able to save enough money for retirement.

In turn, once they get older and have to quit their active careers, many correctional officers are no longer able to pay their bills.

Are jailer salaries going up?

Jailer salaries have not been going up significantly over the past years.

In fact, you will not be able to make good money from a career as a correctional officer and if material things are really important to you, you should not become a jailer but rather work as an investment banker or consultant instead.

Can you have a positive impact on society as a jailer?

While you will do an important job for society, you will still not have a big positive impact on the lives of many people since inmates will often ignore your advice and will not want to talk to you at all anyway.

How long does it take to become a jailer?

Since you can become a jailer right after finishing high school, you can become a correctional officer rather quickly and don’t have to spend many years in college as many of your friends will have to do.

Is it difficult to become a jailer?

Becoming a jailer is not difficult since you don’t have to get fancy education.

Instead, what’s much more important than looking good on paper is that you have empathy for people and also know how to resolve conflicts between people in a proper manner.

Do you need to be smart to work as a jailer?

You don’t need a high IQ for working as a jailer.

What’s much more important is that you have a high emotional IQ so that you can solve conflicts between prisoners and also have a strong mental mindset so that snarky comments of inmates will not bring you down.

Do jailers have a good work-life balance?

Correctional officers don’t have good work-life balance since they often have to work on weekends and holidays and sometimes even have to work at nighttime.

Consequently, they will be away from home quite often and will not have that much time to spend with their loved ones at home.

Do jailers have to work many extra hours?

Jailers don’t have to work much overtime.

Instead, you will have fixed shifts and once your shift is over, you will just finish your workday and come back the next day without having to work many extra hours as in many other jobs.

How to maximize your chances of becoming a jailer?

If you want to maximize your chances of becoming a jailer, you should get decent grades in school and you should also work out on a regular basis since the fitter you are, the better you will be prepared for this job.

Can jailers work part-time?

While jailers might be able to work part-time, most of them still work full-time since their hourly wage is pretty low and jailers would just not be able to cover their expenses from a part-time job.

Do jailers work indoors or outdoors?

Correctional officers work indoors most of the time and don’t have to care about bad weather like many other people who have to work outdoors often have to do.

For instance, while construction workers often have to work outdoors during times of extreme heat or rain, you will have a rather relaxed time in this regard.

What does the workplace of a jailer look like?

Since you will work inside a prison, your workplace will just not be fancy or nice but rather pretty basic and you should be a special type of character to stay happy with this kind of work and with your overall working conditions in the long run.

Do you have to look good for working as a jailer?

Your looks don’t matter for your success as a correctional officer.

What’s much more important is that you have a strong mental mindset and that you also have empathy for prisoners who have a bad day.

Is a jailer career beneficial for your private life?

Being a prison officer is not that beneficial for your private life since you will have to work on weekends and at nighttime quite often and will therefore not be able to see your family that much.

Moreover, you will also not be able to make good money and may not be able to provide for your loved ones.

Do you need a college degree for becoming a jailer?

You don’t need a college degree for becoming a correctional officer.

Instead, you can start your jailer career right after finishing high school and don’t need any fancy education.

Do you need to be certified to work as a jailer?

You also don’t need to be certified as a jailer.

In fact, what’s much more important than getting fancy education is that you have a real passion for working in this field and that you also know how to deal with difficult inmates.

How much does it cost to become a jailer?

Since you will not have to spend many years in college but can start your jailer career right after finishing high school, you don’t have to spend lots of money on tuition or other expenses related to college but can even start making money at a rather young age.

Is being a jailer a good career?

Working as a jailer is not considered a good career by most people out there since you will have to work on weekends, holidays and at nighttime quite often while you will still not be able to make good money from what you are doing and will also have to deal with snarky comments at work on a regular basis.

Is it easy to start your own business as a jailer?

It is almost impossible to start your own business as a correctional officer and if your dream is to work self-employed, you should not become a jailer but rather start a career as an influencer instead.

Can jailers teach themselves?

While jailers may be able to teach themselves to a certain extent by learning about psychology and basic conflict resolution skills, you will still need advice and schooling from experienced colleagues to do your job in a safe and efficient manner.

Do jailers make good money?

Correctional officers don’t make good money at all.

In fact, their salary is far below average and many jailers are not even able to pay their basic expenses from what they are doing.

Is it ever too late to become a jailer?

It is never too late and you can become a jailer at almost every age.

However, the younger you are, the better your chances will be since prisons are often looking for employees who will have the potential to work in this job for many decades and if you are already quite old, you will retire way too early.

Do jailers have to quit their careers early?

Some jailers have to quit their careers early since they suffer from mental health issues related to their jobs.

In fact, you need a pretty stable mindset to do this job in the long run and you should also be able to deal with snarky comments in an emotionally healthy manner so that you don’t have to deal with those issues and can work in this job until retirement age.

What is the most challenging thing about working as a jailer?

The most challenging part about being a correctional officer is that you have to deal with many different inmates and while some of them will be cooperative, others will just not listen to your commands at all and may try to bring you down whenever they can.

Can you provide for your family by working as a jailer?

Since you will make pretty poor money as a jailer, it will also be pretty hard for you to provide for your family, especially if you live in a region where rents are quite high.

In such a case, your spouse may have to work as well so that you can afford a decent lifestyle.

Will jailers suffer from old-age poverty?

Due to their rather low salaries, most correctional officers get pretty poor pensions and are also not able to save and invest enough money during their active careers.

In turn, many jailers may no longer be able to pay their bills at retirement age and may suffer from serious old-age poverty.

Can jailers retire early?

Most jailers are not able to retire early since they just don’t make enough money from their jobs.

Consequently, correctional officers often have to work until they reach retirement age and some of them have to work even longer in case their pensions will not be enough to pay their bills.

Do jailers get a fixed or variable salary?

Most jailers just get a fixed salary and will not have a big variable component in their salaries.

Hence, your performance at work will not matter that much for your overall income at the end of the year.

Can you get rich as a jailer?

You will not be able to get wealthy or even rich as a correctional officer since your salary will just be too low.

Thus, if money and luxury are really important to you, you should rather become an auditor or economist instead.

Do jailers need a second job?

Due to the rather poor money jailers are able to make, they often need a second job to pay their bills.

This is especially true in regions where rents and living costs are pretty high since a jailer salary will often not be enough to cover even only basic expenses in such a case.

Do you get continuous training as a jailer?

You will get lots of training at the beginning of your jailer career.

However, once you become more senior, it will be on you to figure out how to deal with inmates in a proper manner and you will also learn many things on the job.

Do you get sick pay as a jailer?

Most correctional officers also get sick pay.

However, this is not true for all of them and also greatly depends on the state and the institution you work for.

Do jailers have a high level of responsibility?

Prison officers have a high level of responsibility since they have to assure the safety of many people and mistakes on their side could lead to serious adverse outcomes.

Can jailers work abroad?

Correctional officers are also able to work abroad.

However, you should still inform yourself about working conditions and salaries in the foreign country you want to move to so that you can avoid unpleasant surprises in this regard.

Is it stressful to work as a jailer?

Being a jailer can be stressful since you will have to deal with difficult inmates all day long and this can really bring you down on an emotional level if you don’t have a strong mental mindset.

Is it boring to work as a jailer?

Working as a jailer will never become boring since you will experience many new things and situations every day and you will always have to stay awake and focused to prevent serious incidents.

Is being a jailer hard?

Working as a correctional officer can be pretty tough since you will often have to deal with inmates who will do everything to bring you down and you really need a strong mental mindset so that you are able to ignore snarky comments.

Are jailers at risk of burnout?

Since jailers have to deal with lots of stress and unpleasant situations at work and also often have to work on weekends and at nighttime, they are at great risk of burnout and may also suffer from serious mental issues sooner or later.

Is there a dress code for jailers?

There is no fixed dress code for correctional officers.

However, most of the time, you will still get workwear from the jail so that inmates will recognize you as an authority and will listen to your commands.

What kind of jailers are paid the most?

The more senior you become, the higher your salary as a jailer will be.

However, you should still not expect to make good money from your jailer career since most correctional officers are not even able to make decent money after decades.

What percentage of jailers are women?

Only around 10% of all correctional officers are women while 90% are men.

This industry is just dominated by men since working in this field can be mentally demanding and inmates often also don’t respect women that much.

Do I need a mentor to succeed as a jailer?

While you don’t necessarily need a mentor to succeed as a correctional officer, it can still help to have an experienced colleague on your side who can help you push through difficult times and who can also provide you with lots of emotional support.

Will you be personally liable for mistakes as a jailer?

You will not be personally liable for mistakes you make as a jailer most of the time.

However, if you want to be 100% sure in this regard, you should talk to a lawyer to get further information in this regard.

Do jailers have a high life expectancy?

Since jailers work in a pretty risky environment, they also have rather poor life expectancy and also always have to fear getting involved in serious accidents at their workplace.

Do jailers suffer from sleeping problems?

Since correctional officers often have to work at nighttime and also have to work in a rather risky environment, many of them suffer from sleeping problems related to their jobs.

What states are best for working as a jailer?

Since salaries for jailers are pretty low and don’t differ that much across states, you should work as a jailer in a region where living costs are rather low so that you don’t need a second job to pay your bills.

Who do jailers work with?

Jailers work with many different inmates every day.

Hence, you should have great people skills and empathy for prisoners to avoid conflicts and to calm people down.

Is working as a jailer cool?

Being a jailer is not considered cool by the majority of the general public.

In fact, you will have a pretty low social standing and will not be able to make good money and many people out there will not understand your career choice.

Can you start a side hustle as a jailer?

Since you will not learn many important skills during your jailor career that could be used in different fields, it will be pretty hard for you to start a side hustle as a correctional officer.

Do you have to be creative as a jailer?

You don’t need to be creative as a jailer.

What’s much more important is that you know safety procedures and that you are also able to defend yourself in case of emergency.

Do jailers suffer from being overweight?

Many jailers don’t get sufficient exercise at work and don’t burn enough calories.

Consequently, many correctional officers also suffer from being overweight.

How employable are jailers?

Qualified jailers are in high demand right now and since not many people want to do this job anymore, you will have excellent job prospects if you become really good at what you are doing in this field.

Are jailers happy with their jobs?

Most jailers are not happy with their jobs since they have to work in a risky environment and also have to work on weekends and at nighttime while they are still not able to make good money and many of them secretly think about quitting their jobs and working in a different field.

Is working as a jailer exciting?

Working as a jailer can be exciting since you will have to deal with lots of insecurity at work and you will always have to stay focused and awake to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Can you have a positive impact on our environment as a jailer?

You will not have a positive impact on our environment as a jailor.

While you will do an important job for society, you will just not care about our planet and will rather focus on assuring safety inside prison walls.

What are the pros and cons of working as a jailer?

If you still want to become a jailer, you should also have a look at additional pros and cons of a jailer career.

Sources

https://www.statista.com/statistics/253433/prisoners-in-local-jail-facilities-in-the-us/

https://www.statista.com/topics/1717/prisoners-in-the-united-states/

Interviews and own research.

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

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