Corrections counselors are often the first people to give advice and guidance to criminals. Also called correctional treatment specialists, they help criminals become productive members of society by addressing actions that the offender can take to avoid breaking the law again.
What Does a Corrections Counselor Do?
Corrections counselors work with criminals to cultivate strategic rehabilitation, training, and education plans that help them earn a GED or enroll in college classes. This critical planning helps offenders acquire the knowledge and skills they need to get jobs and reenter society. Corrections counselors may also work with social service agencies to provide mental health or substance abuse treatment.
Specific job duties for corrections counselors include:
- Imposing rules and keeping order within jails or prisons
- Overseeing behaviors of inmates
- Inspecting facilities, including cells, to ensure they meet sanitary standards
- Searching inmates for contraband
- Compiling reports on inmate conduct
Almost all corrections counselors work for state and local governments in prisons and jails. Daily work conditions change frequently, and counselors should be prepared to work both indoors and outdoors. Some jails and prisons are temperature controlled and clean; others lend to more unpleasant working conditions in that they are old, overcrowded, hot, and noisy.
Being physically fit is important for corrections counselors, as some are required to stand on their feet for long periods of time. It’s typical for a corrections counselor to work an eight-hour day, five days per week, but they will be expected to work in rotating shifts due to jails and prisons needing round-the-clock attention.
How Much Do Corrections Counselors Get Paid?
The salaries of corrections counselors from state to state will vary. Factors like experience and size of the department for which a person works also come in to play. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for correctional treatment specialists is $53,020 as of May 2018.
Employment for this career is expected to grow 6% through 2026, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. With mandatory sentencing guidelines undergoing changes in most states, the number of prisoners being released from correctional facilities into counseling programs is on the rise.
After a period of service as a corrections counselor, successful counselors can look to advance to other careers. This includes being promoted to a correctional sergeant or into supervisory or administrative positions, such as warden.
How Do I Become a Corrections Counselor?
A bachelor’s degree is required to become a corrections counselor. Coursework in psychology and social work will make a candidate more attractive in the eyes of a potential employer. Having experience as a substance-abuse counselor or social worker can also increase a person’s chances of being hired.
Newly hired corrections counselors must complete training at the facility where they’re employed, followed by a certification exam. Candidates must also submit to drug testing and complete a background check.
Earn the Right Credentials
To open the doors to become a corrections officer, you can earn a degree in criminal justice. Concordia University, St. Paul offers an online B.A. in Criminal Justice and an online M.A. in Criminal Justice Leadership. Both programs explore historical and contemporary issues that have affected the criminal justice system, ethics, and more. Designed for the busy adult student, our online programs feature a flexible format that allows you to study when it’s most convenient as you learn from faculty who are experts in the field.