The median annual wage of correctional officers and jailers was $39,040 in May 2010. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,040, and the top 10 percent earned more than $67,250.
The median annual wage in the public sector was $54,310 in the federal government, $38,690 in state government, and $38,980 in local government in May 2010. In the facilities support services industry, in which a relatively small number of officers employed by privately operated prisons is classified, the median annual wage was $30,460.
The median annual wage of bailiffs was $38,570 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $18,980, and the top 10 percent earned more than $66,400. The median annual wage of bailiffs employed by local governments was $34,490.
In addition to receiving typical benefits, correctional officers employed in the public sector usually are provided with uniforms or with a clothing allowance to buy their own uniforms. Many departments offer retirement benefits, although benefits vary. Unionized correctional officers often have slightly higher wages and benefits.
Correctional officers usually work 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, on rotating shifts. Some correctional facilities have longer shifts and more days off between scheduled workweeks. Because prison and jail security must be provided around the clock, officers work all hours of the day and night, weekends, and holidays. In addition, officers may be required to work paid overtime.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition