How to Become a Correctional Officer in Wisconsin

The State of Wisconsin Department of Corrections reported 20,197 total inmates as of September 30, 2022. The Division of Adult Institutions operates 36 adult corrections facilities, two of them housing women offenders and the rest housing male inmates. Wisconsin’s prison population has seen some of its lowest numbers in over 20 years since the COVID-19 pandemic, falling 16 percent from 2020 to 2021. Populations in county jails also decreased drastically due to COVID-19, to 8340 in April 2020, a 35 percent decrease since April 2019. 

Wisconsin’s governor, Tony Evers, supports prison diversion programs, which would reduce the number of offenders being sent to correctional facilities. Data from the DOC from August 2022 indicates that fewer than 2000 of the state’s inmates have offenses that make them eligible for parole, so diversion programs are seen as one of the best ways to reduce Wisconsin’s prison population. 

In addition to state and local correctional facilities, Wisconsin is also home to one federal correctional facility, FCI Oxford. This is a medium security correctional institution with an adjacent minimum security satellite camp. FCI Oxford houses 1196 male inmates in the western region of Wisconsin.

Even though Wisconsin’s prison population is not as large as it once was, and efforts are being made to keep the population at manageable levels, responsible individuals are still needed to fill correctional officer positions to maintain supervision stability within these facilities. With recent increases in pay and benefits, this could be the perfect time to consider becoming a Wisconsin correctional officer.

WHAT DOES A CORRECTIONAL OFFICER DO

Correctional officers working for the Wisconsin DOC may positively impact the lives of inmates working as public safety employees within male or female institutions, in levels of security ranging from minimum to maximum. Duties of a correctional officer in Wisconsin include:

  • Ensuring the safety, custody, treatment, security, and control of all inmates within DOC facilities
  • Directing and monitoring inmate behavior
  • Documenting information including inmate behavior and statistics during each shift
  • Recording instances in which inmates have engaged in misconduct and breaking rules
  • Keeping inmates mindful of the regulations, rules, laws and policies that they are expected to follow at all times
  • Escorting inmates to and from various places within the correctional facility
  • Counseling inmates
  • Conducting personal searches
  • Transporting inmates to and from other facilities, court, etc.

Those applying for correctional officer positions in Wisconsin should have effective communication skills and be able to solve problems and resolve conflict. 

BECOMING A CORRECTIONAL OFFICER IN WISCONSIN

If you want to work as a Wisconsin correctional officer, you must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Be a U.S. citizen, national, lawful permanent resident, or alien authorized to work in the U.S. without DOC sponsorship
  • Have no recorded felony convictions without a pardon
  • Have no recorded domestic violence convictions 
  • Have a willingness to work overtime
  • Be able to meet firearm standards
  • Be able to pass a medical and fitness screening
  • Be able to pass a drug test

You may apply for correctional officer positions online only. You may indicate your top three institution preferences, but if hired, will be placed where you are most needed. You will be scheduled to take a multiple-choice test, which you must pass with a score of 70 or better. You will then undergo a medical exam, physical fitness test, and drug test. A criminal background check will be conducted prior to selection of candidates. If you are certified as a valid candidate, DOC Human Resources will contact you to arrange an interview. 

Applications for correctional officers positions are accepted on a continuous basis. Questions may be directed to DOCCorrectionalOfficerRecruitment@wisconsin.gov

WISCONSIN EDUCATION AND CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS

The Wisconsin DOC requires that all new correctional officers complete six weeks of paid training, including on-the-job training at your assigned correctional institution. The rest of this training will take place at the Corrections Training Center in Madison. If you live more than 45 miles from the training center, lodging and dinner meals will be provided for you. This training will include:

  • Admitting and releasing inmates
  • Report writing
  • Human and public relations
  • Correctional law
  • Supervision of inmates
  • Communication skills
  • Standards of conduct
  • Crowd control
  • Health care in facilities
  • Facility administration and rules
  • Inmate counseling and searches
  • Documentation and keeping records
  • Transportation of inmates in official vehicles

Once you have completed training, you will be on probation in your correctional officer position for 12 months. 

OPTIONAL PATH TO CERTIFICATION

Applicants for correctional officer positions who meet the minimum requirements above and have completed correctional officer training deemed equivalent to that of the Wisconsin DOC and have worked as a correctional officer for at least one year may receive reciprocity. They must still complete field training in admitting and releasing inmates, communication skills, correctional law, inmate supervision, behavioral control, health care, and principles of subject control.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE DEGREE

A college degree is not required in order to become a correctional officer in Wisconsin.

WISCONSIN CORRECTIONAL OFFICER SALARY

The starting salary for a Wisconsin correctional officer is $19.89 per hour with a $4 per hour add-on bonus (for a total of $23.89 per hour). Correctional officers at maximum security facilities are eligible for a permanent $2 per hour add-on. Those assigned to other facilities may be eligible for an additional $5 per hour add-on. Those who are new to working for the state may be eligible for a $2000 sign-on bonus at certain facilities, based upon operational needs. 

Benefits for correctional officer positions in Wisconsin include:

  • Protective retirement status
  • Pay increases in accordance with the Compensation Plan, at intervals of 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 15 and 20 years
  • Differential pay for night and weekend shifts
  • Paid time off, starting with 3 weeks’ vacation, 9 holidays, 4.5 personal holidays and 130 hours of sick leave
  • Wellness opportunities
  • Student loan forgiveness
  • Health benefits
  • Credits towards health care premium in retirement
  • Pre-tax savings accounts
  • Life insurance
  • Disability benefits
  • Edvest college savings account

WISCONSIN CORRECTIONAL OFFICER JOB PROSPECTS

Wisconsin’s DOC is currently hiring correctional officers for all locations statewide. Jobs may be applied for online. When you are applying for a position, you may select your top three institution preferences. The DOC will have the final decision on where you are placed based upon operational needs. 

TOP EMPLOYERS FOR CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS

The top employer for state prison and local jail correctional officer jobs in Wisconsin is the Department of Correction. The Federal Bureau of Prisons also hires for correctional officer positions at FCI Oxford. When jobs are available within this institution, they will be advertised at usajobs.gov