Corrections Administrator

Corrections administrators are focused on the administration and management of corrections and correctional facilities. They are not as involved in the day-to-day practice of corrections, but rather, concentrate their energies on the management functions that are necessary to keep correctional institutions running smoothly. Federal, state, county and local prisons and jails all have correctional administrators, and some at varying levels. For example, there may be correctional administrators at the Administrative Management level; the Executive/Middle Management level; and the Supervisory Management level. 

Correctional administrators are responsible for creating a system that will achieve results within a correctional institution, organization or facility. The administration of corrections systems combines knowledge of corrections and criminal justice with management and administration expertise. If you would like to explore the opportunities associated with becoming a corrections administrator, keep reading. 

Corrections Administrator in office setting

Job Duties of a Corrections Administrator

The duties of a corrections administrator vary depending upon the governmental level and size of the facility, as well as the position (whether you are working at the administrative management, middle management or supervisory management level). General duties of a correctional administrator may include:

  • Working with Wardens and department heads in developing plans, policies and programs for correctional institution management
  • Monitoring and evaluating institutional programs in terms of achievement of overall objectives
  • Oversee inmate management programs
  • Plan, organize, supervise and evaluate various programs within the correctional institution
  • Advise and assist the Warden in determining policies and programs for institutional operations
  • Hire, train and supervise correctional officers
  • Assist in budget preparation
  • Inspect facilities from time to time
  • Working with others within correctional facility (social workers, psychologists, chaplains, counselors) to offer programs that support successful reentry of released inmates into the workforce
  • Maintain the security of the institution at all times

Skills and Knowledge that a Corrections Administrator Should Have

If you want to be a corrections administrator, you should:

  • Have comprehensive knowledge of the principles and practices of public and correctional administration
  • Have foundational knowledge of principles and applications of budget preparation and control of a large organization
  • Have basic knowledge of the Board of Parole and other control agencies
  • Have advanced knowledge of problems and methods of custody, control, and adjustment of antisocial behavior
  • Have comprehensive knowledge of organizational structure of correctional institutions, including custody, business services, health care, administration, programs and housing
  • Have basic knowledge of building construction, specifications, blueprints and materials to oversee construction projects
  • Have comprehensive knowledge of state and federal laws and court mandates to comply with legal requirements
  • Have comprehensive knowledge on the use of computers and computer programs
  • Have good planning and management skills
  • Be organized
  • Have good management, supervision and leadership skills
  • Have good awareness of your environment and ability to respond to emergency situations
  • Have sound physical, mental and emotional condition for stressful situations
  • Be empathetic and understanding of persons in custody
  • Be able to provide effective leadership under stressful situations

Qualifying for a Corrections Administrator Job

Corrections administrators must:

  • Possess U.S. citizenship
  • Have experience working in corrections, usually as a corrections officer
  • Have supervisory experience
  • Never have been convicted of a felony
  • Pass background investigation
  • Pass physical, medical, psychological and drug testing

Education and Training for Corrections Administrators

Corrections Administrator jobs are usually experience-based rather than education-based, with candidates who have experience working as a correctional officer and/or in supervisory roles having an advantage over those who do not. However, education always looks good on a resume, and often, a candidate who has experience and education will be hired over one with just experience. A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, corrections, business administration or a related field is helpful.  Miiltary experience may also give you an advantage over the competition when it comes to correctional administrator positions. 

Voluntary Professional Certification for Corrections Administrators

Professional certification is not always mandatory for corrections administrators. However, there are some voluntary certifications that may look good on your record, should you wish to work in correctional administration:

  • Certified Corrections Supervisor (CCS): This certification offered by the American Correctional Association is designed for mid-management level corrections administrators who work with staff and offenders, implementing policy and procedures and supervising personnel. It requires an associate degree plus one year of supervisory experience; or a high school diploma and two years of corrections experience. 
  • Certified Corrections Manager (CCM): This certification through the American Correctional Association is designed for those who manage major units or programs within corrections settings. They are management staff who may contribute to development of policy and procedures, are responsible for their implementation, and have authority over supervisory personnel. It requires an associate degree and one year of managerial experience, or a high school diploma and one year of managerial experience and five years of corrections experience. 
  • Certified Corrections Executive (CCE): This certification through the American Correctional Association is designed for those at the highest executive levels who oversee the development of policy and procedures in correctional agencies that deal with adult offenders. It requires a bachelor’s degree and one year of executive experience, or a high school diploma and one year of executive experience and seven years of corrections experience. 

The certifications above are based upon education/experience as well as passing a certification exam. 

Salaries and Jobs for Corrections Administrators

Salaries for corrections administrators vary depending upon the level of administration, level of government of the prison, and size of the prison. One of the best ways to examine salaries of corrections administrators is to look at recently open administrative positions across the country:

  • Correctional Administrator, State of Tennessee, Nashville, TN
    • Salary: $7047 to $12,685/month (or $84,564 to $152,220/year
    • Qualifications include a bachelor’s degree and 10 years of corrections management experience
  • Public Service Administrator, Department of Corrections, State of Illinois, Vandalia, IL
    • Salary: $7500/month (or $90,000/year)
    • Qualifications include educational license with general administrative endorsement and three years of teaching experience
  • Assistant Administrator of Correctional Training, State of Maryland, Carroll, MD
    • Salary: $58,441 to $95,703/year
    • Qualifications include bachelor’s degree and five years of experience in corrections plus three years’ supervisory experience 
  • Assistant Jail Administrator, County of Penobscot, Bangor, ME
    • Salary: $35.59 to $37.79/hour (or $74,027 to $78,603/year)
    • Qualifications include high school diploma and one year of corrections officer experience; bachelor’s degree and supervision experience preferred 

Resources for Corrections Administrators

The following are organizations of interest to those who wish to become Corrections Administrators: