Prison guards guard prisoners in jail or a penal institution. They ensure that all prisoners are accounted for and make sure that all rules and regulations are being followed. They may also guard prisoners on the way to court or other scheduled proceedings.
The main job of a prison guard is to monitor the conduct of prisoners in their cells, during their work time and during recreational time. Their job is to follow regulations and procedures that have been set up when violence breaks out or when a prisoner tries to escape. It is also their job to inspect all parts of the facility each day including locks, doors, windows and gates to ensure that there is no chance of escape. They conduct head counts several times a day to ensure that all prisoners are present and no one is missing. They process and admit prisoners to the system and provide them with a cell. They guard the entrance to the facility and admit the public for visiting hours. Prison guards may randomly search prisoners, their living space and belongings for contraband such as drugs or weapons. They search prisoners mail before distribution. They may perform shakedowns on prisoners. At times they may have to use weapons and force when trying to control unruly prisoners. Physical force is not uncommon in this job.
Prison Guard Salary:
The prison guard salary averages about $43,000 per year in the United States. The prison guard wage depends on factors such as experience, type of place you work, location and more. Location is very important when it comes to the prison guard income. Certain cities and states offer differing salary amounts due to a higher need and differing rates of living. The highest prison guard salary can be found in the following states: Alaska, New York, Massachusetts, California and New Jersey. Alaska is a state with a high prison guard pay rate. In Alaska the average salary is $55,000 per year. New York and Massachusetts also offer a higher pay rate for prison guards of $57,000 per year. The prison guard income in California is $67,000 per year. The top salary for prison guards can be found in New Jersey with an average salary of $70,000 per year. All of these amounts are averages and it is possible to make even more than the listed amounts.
Prison Guard Education:
You may be surprised, but there is a college degree required in order to become a prison guard. Many times having experience in the military or in law enforcement will provide the experience you need for this job and bypass the need for an associate degree. However, if you plan to go this route you can obtain an associate degree in law enforcement, criminal justice or other types of police activities. The average time to complete your degree depends on the degree you choose, but it typically takes about two to four years to complete. Federal penal facilities require you to have a bachelor’s degree. Courses of study may vary depending on the type of degree you choose. Once you have obtained your degree, you may start applying for jobs. Most prison guard jobs require you to pass an aptitude test in addition to a background and drug test. New applicants must be under 37 years of age and a US citizen. Additional training will be provided once you have been hired. Specialized training may also be required depending on the type of facility you work in. On the job training typically takes an additional year to complete.
Prison Guard Work Environment:
The work environment for a prison guard is typically within a jail or penal facility. They may also work in rehab and drug centers. Prison guards are on their feet for the majority of their shift and they must be alert at all times. The job duties of a prison guard are often dangerous and stressful due to confrontations with unruly prisoners. Prison guards have one of the highest rates for job injuries due to the nature of the job. Prison guards work inside the facilities and outside in the prison yard and may be exposed to the elements. The work schedule for prison guards is a forty hour work week that consists of rotating shifts. Nights, weekends and holidays may be required as a normal part of the job.
Prison guards are an important part of the penal system. They ensure that prisoners are safe and are not able to escape. This is not a job for just anyone due to the nature of the job. There are more than 475,000 people employed as prison guards. The rate of jobs being added to the market is about an average of five percent. Which means that there will be an additional 25,000 jobs added within the next eight years.