How to Become a Correctional Officer in Colorado

The Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC), the largest law enforcement agency, has over 20,000 inmates housed in public or privately contracted facilities. Some provide staff with professional development, administration support, and inmate care. 

If your goal is to build a career that makes a difference and builds greater public confidence in good government, consider joining the dedicated people of Colorado. These professionals strive to support the state government and the citizens of Colorado. Customer service is a crucial component for every position in state government, as is the focus on ideas and ways to redesign the delivery of services in making state government more effective and efficient.

correctional officer looking into cell


The Correctional Officer I (CO I) position maintains the safety and security of CDOC prison facilities throughout the state.  Correctional Officers support the CDOC mission, vision, and values with integrity and commitment while preparing inmates for community reentry.

Correctional Officers respectfully communicate with inmates and their families, coworkers, supervisors, managers, and the public, presenting a professional and dependable workforce.  Correctional Officers must cooperate with other staff members and work as a cohesive team while managing a diverse inmate population.

Officers maintain the safety and security of the general public, staff, and inmates; duties include, but are not limited to:

  • Monitoring and controlling access to the facility and restricted areas
  • Manning an armed post (this requires annual firearms certification)
  • Escorting and transporting inmates in authorized state vehicles
  • Monitoring visiting areas
  • Conducting formal, informal, and emergency counts
  • Conducting searches for contraband (this may include canine, metal detector, pat, perimeter, strip, and vehicle searches)
  • Inspecting facility and cells to maintain health, safety, and sanitation standards
  • Inspecting inmate mail
  • Utilizing proper protocols when responding to emergencies, such as fights, medical emergencies, fires, and escapes
  • Following established tool and key control, ensuring proper storage and documentation

Positions are subject to working additional hours or shifts to maintain safety and security.


Upon hire, candidates will receive an email and should follow the directions. Federal law mandates that CDOC Office of Human Resources officials view original documents on the first day of employment to verify eligibility to work in the United States. 

You MUST bring the following items on the first day:

  • Original acceptable documents for the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I‐9)
  • Copy of Social Security card (for payroll purposes)
  • Valid Colorado driver’s license
  • State agency paystub (if currently employed by a state agency)

Candidates MUST: 

  • Be a Colorado resident
  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have no felony convictions or domestic violence convictions
  • Possess a high school diploma or GED
  • Possess a valid and unrestricted driver’s license

Candidates must complete two phases of testing to be considered for employment with the Department of Corrections. Candidates must meet the Department’s minimum requirements to qualify for Phase I testing and must complete Phase I testing to be eligible for Phase II testing.

  • Phase I testing includes a reading comprehension exam and a situational performance exam.
  • Phase II testing includes an oral assessment before a panel of subject matter experts.

Individuals who complete both phases of pre-employment testing must undergo a background investigation and then if hired, complete a month-long introductory training course through the Colorado Department of Corrections. 


All candidates for Correctional Officer Positions must complete the CDOC’s Basic Training (BT). See below for more information on Colorado’s training:

  • The curriculum runs for 20 continuous weekdays (excluding holidays) at your assigned facility
  • Training occurs from 8 AM to 5 PM
  • Professional appearance is required

The coursework at the Training Academy involves both academics and practical measures.  Topics include:

  • Federal laws
  • State laws
  • American Correctional Association (ACA) standards
  • Policies
  • Firearms training
    • Shotgun
    • AR-15


The CDOC will evaluate all prior training and experience during the application and interview process.   


There are various programs to help employees take advantage of federal loan forgiveness designed to incentivize public service and help make the State of Colorado an employer of choice. 

Some examples of Criminology and Criminal Justice degree programs offered at California institutions include:


The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) lists the average Colorado Correctional Officer salary as $54,570. 

CDOC benefits include:

  • Dental
    • Coverage includes regular preventive dental care and offers coverage to fix problems early. Diagnostic and preventive services (x-rays, cleanings, exams) are fully covered.
  • Life Insurance
    • Life and Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) insurance, through Securian Financial/Minnesota Life Insurance Company, provide financial security to you and your family if you pass away or become seriously injured.
  • Medical
    • Employees choose a medical plan by considering what is essential, what they want to cover, and the total cost. For the same service, you may pay higher costs with one plan than with the other. The ideal medical plan should cover most of your health needs and stay within your budget. 
  • Time Off and Leave
    • The State of Colorado currently offers employees a comprehensive leave program that includes but is not limited to annual, sick, holiday, family medical, short-term disability, and military leave. Employees earn annual and sick leave at varying accrual rates based on years of service. Full-time employees begin earning annual leave at an accrual rate of 8 hours per month and sick leave at 6.66 hours per month. Leave for a part-time employee is earned on a pro-rated basis. 
  • The Colorado State Employee Assistance Program
    • A free resource for all state employees. Employees may request mental health counseling, leader consultation, critical incident response, mediation, or webinar and facilitation services. 


Colorado is anticipated to see steady growth within this trade on par with the remainder of the country because the corrections field is growing, and existing officers are retiring. The state and its contractors can expect about five hundred new jobs created from this growth.

Colorado is offering “Fast Track Hiring Events.” You may receive an on-the-spot contingent job offer to become a Correctional Officer with no experience.


Colorado Department of Corrections

Federal Bureau of Prisons

CoreCivic Private Prisons