How to Become a Correctional Officer in Florida

Working as a Correctional Officer for the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) can be an enriching career. Correctional Officers are responsible for keeping the community and inmates safe while assisting in rehabilitative activities and reducing inmate recidivism. The FDC prides itself on significantly expanding educational program opportunities for inmates, including agriculture, business, construction and architecture, hospitality and tourism, culinary arts, and other classes.

Florida is the third-largest state prison system in the United States. Base pay has increased well over 5% in the last year alone, with ample opportunities for advancement and regular pay increases. There is hiring and promotion potential across Florida, from Miami to Pensacola. 


Most correctional facilities in Florida can accurately be described as smaller scale cities. Correctional facilities have education, police, recreation, safety, maintenance, and other departments similar to those in cities and towns. Correctional Officers may work in recreation, assist with food service, supervise maintenance, specialize in transportation, or become a classification officer. Correctional Officers are Law Enforcement Officers, peacekeeping officers, rehabilitation specialists, and more. The potential employment opportunities are almost endless for those who work in this field.  

Man in prison


Florida knows the importance of hiring good Correctional Officers and has created a welcoming environment for those who choose this career path. The steps most applicants take are:

  • Complete the Basic Abilities Test (BAT).
    • This test assesses written comprehension and expression, information ordering, spatial orientation, memorization, problem sensitivity, and inductive and deductive reasoning in a multiple-choice format.
  • Complete the 13-week in-person training program.
    • The program meets meeting Monday through Thursday, 7:30a-4:30p for 2 ½ months. 
    • Courses of study consist of nine general classes and three high liability classes that make up the 420 clock hours of study. The general classes take place in the classroom and provide instruction in principles needed to become a professional in corrections. The high liability classes consist of defensive tactics, first aid, and firearms on both the mat and range.
    • Graduates are certified to work with the State of Florida Department of Corrections, county jails, or any private prisons throughout the state.
  • Pass the state certification exam.
    • Before taking the State Officer Certification Exam (SOCE), individuals must complete a basic recruit training program at a Commission-certified training school. Former Florida-certified, out-of-state, Federal, or military police officers may request an exemption from basic recruit training and complete this process before taking the SOCE.
    • Individuals have three attempts to pass the SOCE.
    • PEARSON VUE administers the SOCE on-demand at authorized test sites throughout Florida.


Applicants for Correctional Officer positions must meet their minimum requirements. These include:

  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Be a citizen of the United States.
  • Have earned a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Have not been convicted of any felony or any misdemeanor involving perjury or a false statement.
  • Have not received a dishonorable discharge from any of the Armed Forces of the United States.
  • Have a good moral character as determined by a background investigation.
  • Have been fingerprinted by the agency with prints processed by the FDLE and the FBI.
  • Successfully passed a background investigation, including drug testing.

After it is determined that you meet the minimum requirements, you will be required to complete the Basic Abilities Test (BAT). 

Once you have completed the BAT, you must enroll in and complete the Basic Recruit Training Program. This is a 13-week program offered in person only.  

Once you have completed the training program, you must complete the state certification exam.

Applicants can find more information about accredited training programs at Training Center Links (

Applicants can find more information about the State Officer Certification exam at State Officer Certification Exam (SOCE)


Applicants who have served at least one year full-time in the past eight years as a sworn officer in another state, for the federal government, or the military or served at least five years of the special operations forces with your separation in the past four years may qualify to be exempt from completing the Basic Recruit Training.


The Florida Department of Corrections understands the value of a Criminology or Criminal Justice Degree and has several ways to help employees earn theirs. The FDC recognizes that a degree in Criminology or Criminal Justice increases your ability to help the department meet it’s goals and may improve your promotion potential. Current employees can access tuition assistance through:

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


The current average Florida Correctional Officer is $37,750, and top earners make over $70,000. Additionally, Florida offers excellent benefits. These include:

  • 401(k)
  • 401(k)
  • AD&D insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Employee assistance program
  • Employee discount
  • Flexible schedule
  • Flexible spending account
  • Health insurance
  • Health savings account
  • Life insurance
  • Military leave
  • Opportunities for advancement
  • Paid time off
  • Paid training
  • Parental leave
  • Professional development assistance
  • Referral program 
  • Retirement plan
  • Tuition reimbursement 
  • Uniform allowance
  • Vision insurance


The Florida Department of Corrections employs almost 24,000 people in over 140 facilities and institutions. Unfortunately, the number of Correctional Officers is below Florida’s goal. For this reason, now is an excellent time to apply. Florida has provided bonuses for new correctional officers and increased rewards for Certified Correctional Officers. Currently, there are positions open in facilities throughout the state. 


Florida Department of Corrections

Florida Department of Corrections — Homepage (

Federal Bureau of Prisons 

BOP: Federal Bureau of Prisons Web Site

Corrections Corporation of America

Corrections Corporation of America (

The GEO Group

The GEO Group – Official Website