To land a job as a correctional officer, you'll need to prove that you have the mental and physical stamina to do one of the most difficult jobs out there. Your correctional officer resume should give clear and concise examples of previous experience in correctional facilities or other jobs that required you to care for the safety and security of others.
Luckily, you've come to the right place. Resume.io is a resource for job seekers of all experience levels and career types. This guide is one of our more than 350 job-specific resume examples designed to help you craft the perfect application.
This guide, along with our correctional officer resume example, will discuss:
- What a correctional officer does and the job outlook for the role
- How to write a correctional officer resume, including the correct structure and best format
- How to write each of the sections of a great correctional officer resume: header, summary, employment history, skills, and education
- Professional resume layout and design tips
What does a correctional officer do?
Correctional officers are law enforcement professionals who serve as a figure of authority in local jails, state prisons and federal penitentiaries. Correctional officers work to ensure the welfare and safety of prisoners and staff within proximity of the prisoners. Correctional officers disrupt confrontations, maintain order and assist during the rehabilitation process of prisoners.
Correctional officers undergo rigorous training, which enables them to work under difficult and challenging circumstances. Correctional officers must have a strong work ethic and the physical stamina to serve as an effective and proactive officer.
An ideal candidate holds a high school diploma or an equivalent diploma. Although it is not required by all agencies, college coursework or an earned degree in the behavioral or social sciences is highly favored.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for correctional officers in May 2021 was $47,920, and there were 419,000 positions as correctional officers in the U.S.
For a few more ideas and inspiration, head over to our related government resume samples:
How to write a correctional officer resume
A great resume for a correctional officer will contain many of the same sections found on other resumes including:
- The resume header
- The resume summary (aka profile or personal statement)
- The employment history section
- The resume skills section
- The education section
A correctional officer resume should clearly demonstrate your ability to effectively maintain safety and control in your assigned facility. It conveys that you have excellent surveillance skills and are a very detail-oriented person.
Your correctional officer resume should highlight your excellent judgment, physical strength, and adeptness at reacting quickly and appropriately in emergency situations. It should also highlight your knowledge of rehabilitation methods.
The sections of your correctional officer resume can help you organize your experience and skills, but they also serve a secondary purpose: they allow your resume to be more easily read by Applicant Tracking Systems. ATS algorithms are built into most of today's online application portals. They scan your resume looking for keywords from the job description and rank you against the other applicants. Only the top-ranking resumes will be seen by the hiring manager. You can decrease the chances of being filtered out by the ATS in a few easy steps:
- Read the job description closely and look for words emphasized by the employer like specific skills or duties (these are the "keywords.")
- Add the keywords using the exact language from the job description into the appropriate sections of your resume.
- Never stuff your resume with keywords or lie about your experience to beat the ATS. You may succeed in overpowering the robots but you won't win against the human hiring manager!
Choosing the best resume format for correctional officers
The best resume format allows hiring managers to quickly find what they are looking for on the page. If you've already held positions in law enforcement, security or another related field, we recommend you use the reverse chronological format. It is the one traditionally sought by hiring managers for candidates with relevant experience.
Your employment history section is most prominent, starting with your most recent position and works backwards until you've listed all relevant work experience. Since correctional offers need to prove that they have the chops for such a difficult role, related experience is essential on your resume and this format is the best one to highlight it.
The skills-based functional format is sometimes suitable for self-employed job seekers, workforce newcomers or others lacking relevant experience. The hybrid (combination) resume format begins with your skills section followed by a shorter employment history section.
A distinctive resume header design gives recruiters a positive first impression overall, and makes everything on the document look more inviting to read. This is where your identifying information is displayed prominently, so it gets noticed right away and can be found easily when hiring managers want to get in touch with you for an interview. The header should include your name, occupation title, phone number, email, and city.
Resume summary example
The summary of your resume is the place to catch the attention of hiring managers and show them that you have the right training and skills for the role. Highlight your biggest accomplishments and attributes here to encourage the reader to continue. Remember to use as many powerful action verbs and job specific information as you can. Be sure to reread the job description to form an image of the ideal candidate for the role. Your resume summary is the best place to show hiring managers that you meet their needs.
The summary is a great place to add in the most important skills or knowledge mentioned in the job description in order to beat the ATS. Just make sure to keep this section easy to read and in a personable, conversational style, since this is the one place on your resume where you'll be able to speak to the recruiter directly.
Check out the summary section from our correctional officer resume sample:
Dedicated Correctional Officer with over 17 years of state department experience. Proven track record with investigations, gang-related interventions, staff development, and prison intelligence. Passionate about contributing to inmate and staff safety, as well as prisoner rehabilitation.
Employment history sample
The employment history section is the place to get into all the details of your previous experience and why you're the right candidate for the role. To structure this section, create small headings with the job title, employer name, location and dates worked. Underneath, add four or five bullet points that describe your responsibilities and achievements. Use specific action verbs to convey how you made a difference and the results you delivered to your previous employers. Quantify with facts and figures if you can.
Here's the employment history section from our correctional officer resume example:
Correctional Officer at MCI-Framingham, Framingham
June 2010 - July 2023
- Managed a caseload of 200 prisoners, reducing inmate infractions by 25% through proactive communication and conflict resolution strategies.
- Responded swiftly to emergencies, effectively defusing 20+ altercations and maintaining institutional safety.
- Implemented and led a weekly inmate rehabilitation program, resulting in a 15% decrease in recidivism rates.
- Collaborated with mental health professionals to address inmate behavioral issues, with 25% decrease in incidents requiring use of force.
- Led organized searches detecting and confiscating 50+ contraband items.
Correctional Officer at Middle Valley Prison, Middle Valley
May 2006 - May 2010
- Supervised the daily activities of 800+ inmates.
- Maintained secure and orderly conditions during inmate transfers and court appearances, achieving a 100% incident-free record.
- Maintained 100% accuracy in incident documentation, contributing to the facility’s strong legal standing and minimizing liability risks.
- Supervised 90+ employees and trained 15 new officers, resulting in 20% fewer policy violations during the probationary period.
CV skills example
The skills section of your CV is the place to drive home all your most important attributes and knowledge. The bullet point format of this section means it's a great place to highlight skills that can be conveyed in only a few words. Scan the job description once more for any specific skills, techniques or safety knowledge that can be added here. Although it may be tempting to fill this section with hard skills — abilities that require specialized knowledge – you should also make sure to add in a few of your soft skills that show what type of coworker and person you are.
In the excerpt below from our correctional officer resume sample, you'll see a handful of soft skills like decision making and critical thinking.
- Facility Management
- Excellent Communication
- Prison Intelligence
- Physical Defense and Intervention Techniques
Correctional officer resume education example
While correctional officers may not need to hold advanced degrees, any training or education you've completed can be a big bonus in helping you land the job. List all certifications here as well and include the name of the program, school, location and dates attended. Any honors or distinctions should be noted here as well. If you hold a degree higher than a bachelor's degree, you may exclude your high school information.
See how to format your education section with this excerpt from our correctional officer resume example:
Associate of Criminal Justice, Roxbury Community College, Roxbury
August 2004 - May 2006
High School Diploma, Newbury High School, Newbury
September 2000 - May 2004
Resume layout and design
While your skills and experience might be the most important thing on a correctional officer resume, the formatting and design plays a key role in getting a hiring manager to take notice. A professional layout shows the employer that you take this job seriously and are committed to seeing the application process through. Make sure to keep a healthy balance of white space to text that ensures readability and helps avoid visual fatigue for the reader.
- Keep your resume to a length of one page
- Choose a neutral color palette
- Use a simple template to help you format your header
- Overload the page with too much text
- Include more than two different font styles
- Submit a resume with spelling and grammar mistakes
Getting the format just right can be tricky with word processors and graphic design software that wasn't made specifically for resumes. Using one of our field-tested resume templates can help you fit all the required information on one page.
Key takeaways for a correctional officer resume
- A resume is a key tool in helping you land your next correctional officer position – make sure yours is full of all your relevant skills and experience for the best chance of impressing the hiring manager.
- An attractive and simple header helps keep your name and contact information at the forefront of your document.
- We recommend the reverse chronological format as the best option for candidates with at least some level of related experience.
- Don't forget to include a balance of hard and soft skills as shown on our correctional officer resume example.