There are currently an estimated 450,000 correctional officers in the United States. The correctional officer job market is expected to shrink by -7.7% between 2016 and 2026.

How employable are correctional officers?

CareerExplorer rates correctional officers with a C employability rating, meaning this career should provide moderate employment opportunities for the foreseeable future. Over the next 10 years, it is expected the US will lose -30,000 correctional officers. That number is based on the retirement of 4,500 existing correctional officers.

Are correctional officers in demand?

Two recurring factors are expected to generate job opportunities and demand for correctional officers in the United States. Firstly, the stresses of the job signify a continued high turnover, which results in openings for new workers. Secondly, despite the current downward trend in crime nationwide, some criminologists predict that population growth will lead to increased criminal behaviour and rising rates of incarceration. In addition, mandatory sentencing guidelines are lengthening sentences, reducing parole, and further augmenting prisoner numbers. Faced with overcrowded facilities and the growing cost of keeping people in prison, however, some state governments are considering moving toward laws requiring shorter sentences and community-based rehabilitation alternatives to prison. As these voluntary initiatives are launched, prison populations may decline, along with the number of needed correctional officers. State budgetary constraints are causing public authorities to outsource jobs in the field to private companies that operate and staff corrections facilities. If these decisions emerge as a trend, the private sector may hire more correctional officers than governments. Though limited budgets will continue to be an issue in both state and local prisons, the overall job outlook for correctional officers remains relatively optimistic. The inherent stress of the job ensures that the high rate of turnover will not significantly change. And while offender rehabilitation programs are to be lauded and will likely achieve some positive results, the American prison system will consistently require and welcome qualified applicants.

What’s the supply of correctional officers?

The correctional officer industry is concentrated in Texas, California, New York

Correctional Officer job market by state

State Name Employed Correctional Officers
Texas 48,600
California 36,730
New York 34,820
Florida 33,730
Pennsylvania 17,380
North Carolina 15,870
Georgia 14,840
Illinois 14,300
Arizona 14,170
Virginia 14,160
Ohio 13,100
New Jersey 10,800
Tennessee 9,600
Michigan 9,590
Missouri 8,440
Louisiana 7,950
Indiana 7,740
Washington 7,420
Wisconsin 7,230
Maryland 7,120
Colorado 6,900
South Carolina 6,630
Massachusetts 6,080
Kentucky 6,040
Mississippi 5,600
Arkansas 5,480
Alabama 5,140
Minnesota 4,730
New Mexico 4,550
Kansas 4,210
Oregon 4,200
Connecticut 3,810
West Virginia 3,280
Iowa 3,150
Oklahoma 2,870
Nevada 2,840
Nebraska 2,270
Utah 2,040
Idaho 1,890
Maine 1,600
Hawaii 1,520
South Dakota 1,320
Alaska 1,200
Montana 1,070
New Hampshire 930
North Dakota 890
Wyoming 870
Vermont 550