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Careers in Criminal Justice: Correctional Officers and Bailiffs


Correctional Officers and Bailiffs


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Quick Facts: Correctional Officers and Bailiffs
2020 Median Pay $47,440 per year
$22.81 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2020 437,100
Job Outlook, 2020-30 -7% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2020-30 -29,900

What Correctional Officers and Bailiffs Do

Correctional officers oversee those who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been sentenced to serve time in jail or prison. Bailiffs are law enforcement officers who maintain safety and order in courtrooms.

Work Environment

Working in a correctional institution can be stressful and dangerous. Correctional officers and jailers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations, often resulting from confrontations with inmates. Officers work in shifts that cover all hours of the day and night, including weekends and holidays. Bailiffs’ hours are determined by when court is in session.

How to Become a Correctional Officer or Bailiff

Correctional officers go through a training academy and then are assigned to a facility for on-the-job training. Although qualifications vary by state and agency, all agencies require a high school diploma and have an age requirement. Some federal agencies also require some college education or related work experience.


The median annual wage for bailiffs was $48,000 in May 2020.

The median annual wage for correctional officers and jailers was $47,410 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of correctional officers and bailiffs is projected to decline 7 percent from 2020 to 2030.

Despite declining employment, about 35,700 openings for correctional officers and bailiffs are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for correctional officers and bailiffs.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of correctional officers and bailiffs with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about correctional officers and bailiffs by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Correctional Officers and Bailiffs, Accessed 16 Dec. 2021.

Last Modified Date: Friday, October 22, 2021

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