How to Become a Correctional Officer in Iowa

The Iowa Corrections System is a nationally recognized leader in corrections. To meet its goals, the Iowa Corrections System will continue using research-supported practices to create long-lasting, data-driven, and amendable changes. 

Iowa Corrections organization in which you will not just be working a job but paving your career. The nature of the work is engaging, challenging, and honorable. With the Iowa DOC, you’ll have opportunities for training, teamwork, and professional progress in a meaningful field.

The Iowa DOC is one of the largest employers in state government. Approximately 3,600 employees are currently building rewarding careers in the department. If you’re looking for career fulfillment, excellent benefits, and a supportive work environment, you’ve come to the right place – the Iowa Department of Corrections.

Iowa Corrections offers a competitive salary and benefits compared to other public employment and state corrections departments. You will also have the opportunity to receive training that will allow you to advance in your profession and, as you do, be compensated accordingly. This is in addition to competitive benefits such as vacation, State insurance for individuals or family plans, sick leave, and the IPERS retirement system.


The Iowa DOC offers a wide range of career opportunities. Their team of dedicated professionals provides an environment that facilitates change for incarcerated individuals as they prepare for release. It’s an exceptional workplace where respect and support are a large part of the culture. 

Some of the duties performed as a Correctional Officer include:

  • Patrolling facilities and making security checks; inspecting all areas of the institution for safety/security concerns; searching individuals, vehicles, packages, mail, equipment, clothing, and offender quarters for contraband
  • Escorting offenders, visitors, and staff inside and outside of the institution; Verifying possession of appropriate passes or legal documents; verifying offender population in an assigned area at regular intervals
  • Interacting with the public, visitors, and victims in person or via phone
  • Observing offender behavior with staff, other offenders, and visitors; communicates observations to supervisory and program staff to ensure adequate security 
  • Interacting with offenders regularly, assisting in the development of problem-solving skills; providing positive reinforcement when appropriate, and corrective measures when necessary and authorized
  • Instructs offenders in policy and procedure and assists in the development of attitudes and skills needed for adaptation to life within an institution 
  • Maintaining logs, preparing reports, and entering information into the DOC electronic offender record system
  • Supervising offender work assignments and evaluating work performance
  • Operating electronic doors, telephone systems, two-way communications, alarm systems, and using weapons or other offender control devices
  • Attending training classes and seminars; may train or serve as team leader for other staff


Minimum requirements for Correctional Officer positions in the Iowa Department of Corrections include:

  • Pass psychological tests
  • Complete a background investigation check
  • Complete a post-off health screen administered by an institutional physician
  • Pass a urinalysis screen for drugs
  • Complete new employee training during the probationary period, including local orientation, new employee orientation, and emergency preparedness training
  • Some positions will require a Commercial Driver’s License and endorsements

The Iowa DOC places a premium on applicants with the following skills:

  • Active Listening
  • Situational Awareness
  • Critical Thinking Skills
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Speaking Clearly and Effectively


All new Iowa DOC employees receive training at the beginning of their careers. Basic Training will occur at the Iowa Department of Corrects Learning Center in Des Moines, Iowa. The training classes, plus room and board, are provided. Employees will also receive training throughout their careers.

Employees will demonstrate proficiency in the following:


  • Public Safety and Security – Relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective operations for protecting people, data, property, and institutions
  • Law and Government – Laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations
  • English Language – The structure and content of the English language, including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar
  • Clerical Procedures – Word processing, managing files and records, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology
  • Psychology – Human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders


  • Law and Government – Understand and obey applicable laws, codes, administrative rules, and departmental regulations.
  • Oral Comprehension – Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression – Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Speech Clarity – Speak clearly so others can understand.
  • Speech Recognition – Identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Problem Sensitivity – Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It doesn’t involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is one.
  • Deductive Reasoning – Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning – Combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions


Applicants for Correctional Officer positions who have served as a Correctional Officer in another state within the past two years, have passed a four-week correctional officer academy, and have not been disciplined on the job in the past year may be eligible to have some hiring requirements waived.


Although having a Criminology or Criminal Justice Degree is not required for employment with the Iowa DOC, having one may increase your skill level, improve your selection potential, and increase your ability to be promoted within the organization.

Examples of Criminology and Criminal Justice programs offered at institutions in Iowa include:

The University of Iowa – Criminology, Law, and Justice

Iowa State University – Criminal Justice Program

University of Northern Iowa – Criminology and Criminal Justice


The Bureau of Labor and Statistics lists the average Iowa Correctional Officer salary as $52,180. Some of the benefits of working with the Iowa DOC include:

  • Health Insurance
  • Dental Insurance
  • Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Retirement Investors Club
  • Life Insurance
  • Long-Term Disability Insurance

Your family members eligible for health and dental insurance coverage are:

  • Your Spouse – A husband or wife resulting from a legally recognized marriage in Iowa
  • Your Children – By the end of the calendar year in which they turn 26
  • Your Unmarried Children – Over the age of 26 who are full-time students
  • Your Unmarried Children – Totally and permanently disabled before age 27


The average salary and benefits have made Iowa an enticing opportunity. There are openings throughout the State.


Iowa Department of Corrections – Iowa DOC