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Correctional Officers Job Outlook

Employment of correctional officers is expected to grow by 5 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations. 

Demand for correctional officers will come from population growth. However, because of budgetary constraints and a general downward trend in crime rates in recent years, demand will likely grow at a slower rate. Faced with growing costs for keeping people in prison, many state governments have moved toward laws requiring shorter prison terms and alternatives to prison. Community-based programs designed to rehabilitate offenders and limit their risk of repeated offenses while keeping the public safe may reduce prison rates.

Job Prospects

Some local and state corrections agencies experience high job turnover because of low salaries and shift work, as well as the stress that many correctional officers feel. The need to replace correctional officers who transfer to other occupations, retire, or leave the labor force, coupled with rising employment demand, should generate job openings.

Some employment opportunities also will come in the private sector as public authorities contract with private companies to provide and staff corrections facilities. Some state and federal corrections agencies use private prison services.  

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition