How to Become a Correctional Officer in Kentucky

The Kentucky Department of Corrections (DOC) is looking for qualified applicants to join its team of over 4,000 employees. The department offers opportunities for growth and promotions with endless training opportunities. A career with the Kentucky DOC will provide a ‘never dull moment’ work day; no two days are alike.

The Kentucky DOC protects the citizens of the Commonwealth and provides a safe, secure, and humane environment for its staff and offenders while carrying out the mandates of the legislative and judicial processes; and provides opportunities for offenders to acquire skills that facilitate non-criminal behavior.


All Kentucky Correctional Officers will be expected to:

  • Conduct inmate transports with another experienced Correctional Officer
  • Stand hospital watch with another experienced officer
  • Take counts of inmates
  • Issue and keep records of inmate clothing and supplies
  • Stand watch in control centers and monitors the entry and exit points
  • Process inmate visitors in and out of the institution
  • Search inmate mail for contraband
  • Administer emergency first aid to inmates, visitors, and employees when necessary

Correctional Officers will change shifts and posts throughout the year. Specific duties will be assigned based on the duty post but may include:

  • Take action during emergencies to prevent escapes and suppress disorder
  • Search inmate’s person, mail, and quarters for contraband
  • Provide oversight during work or recreational activities
  • Provide oversight during showers and meals
  • Complete reports on violations of institutional rules
  • Properly cares for weapons
  • Travel in-state or out of state to assist with the return of escapees


The minimum requirements for Correctional Officers are: 

  • Have a High School diploma or equivalent
  • Must be 21 years of age
  • Must not have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, felony, or trafficking narcotics, dangerous drugs, or controlled substances

Post-employment requirements may include:

  • Maintain a valid driver’s license and drive a licensed vehicle (may be necessary for the length of employment)
  • Be able to physically respond to emergencies, assist in an evacuation or rescue, physically disrupt fights between inmates, or intervene in a combative situation to protect fellow employees
  • Have the physical agility to secure an inmate with handcuffs, ankle chains, or other restraints


The Kentucky DOC’s Division of Correction Training (DCT) has established mandatory training for all newly hired staff. The program is broken down into five phases and includes:

  • Phase I – Introduction to Corrections (40 hours)
  • Phase II-IV – Introduction to Security (120 Hours)
  • Phase V – Introduction to Weapons Security (40 Hours)

This training is conducted regionally after completing Computer Based Training (CBT) and New Employee Orientation. Employees must complete CBT and New Employee Orientation at the hiring facility before enrollment.


Kentucky does accept reciprocity requests. A reciprocity applicant will need to fill out the Kentucky Reciprocity Application and submit all of the following:

  • A copy of your basic training graduation certificate
  • A copy of your basic training transcript listing each individual class completed with the hours per class
  • A letter stating how many years full-time you have worked in law enforcement in the state you graduated basic training. If you have worked in multiple states, you will need letters from each department.


The Kentucky Department of Corrections strives to play an active role in the professional development of its employees by assisting with their pursuit of continued knowledge and skills needed for higher performance. To better prepare current DOC employees for future promotional opportunities or to help employees with individual career development, the department participates in the Commonwealth of Kentucky Employee Educational Assistance Program as administered through the Governmental Services Center. The program is a state-funded tuition reimbursement program for all permanent, full-time state employees and is designed to assist in defraying the expenses individuals incur when taking educational courses on their own time.

To participate in the program, an employee must be working full time and must have obtained permanent merit status by successfully completing his or her initial probationary period. Upon approval of educational assistance, the Kentucky DOC covers 100 percent of tuition at state colleges as well as laboratory fees and online fees. However, the department does not pay for registration fees, graduation fees, parking or transportation, textbooks, and other supplies. While the DOC will cover most tuition costs, employees must attend classes or seminars on their personal time.

Some of the Criminal Justice or Criminology programs in Kentucky include:

University of Louisville – Criminal Justice

Western Kentucky University – Criminology 

Murray State University – Criminal Justice


The Bureau of Labor and Statistics lists the average salary for Correctional Officers in Kentucky as $36,750.

In addition to a competitive salary, the Commonwealth of Kentucky provides a wide range of benefits to Correctional Officers. Some of these include:

  • Leave Benefits
    • Military Leave
    • State Holidays – All employees receive 11 and a half paid holidays each year
    • Annual Leave – All employees accumulate annual leave throughout the year based on their length of service
    • Educational Leave – Special leave of absence may be granted with pay (if the employee contractually agrees to a service commitment) or without pay, for up to 24 months
    • Sick Leave – Full-time employees earn one day of sick leave per month.
  • The Kentucky Retirement Systems (KRS)
    • Each employee’s future security and ability to reach their retirement goals is important to the Commonwealth of Kentucky DOC. The KRS is a defined benefit plan, providing a guaranteed payout at retirement. There are also disability and death benefits available to KRS members and their beneficiaries.
  • Kentucky Deferred Compensation
    • The Kentucky Public Employees Deferred Compensation Authority (KDC) provides a tax-deferred supplemental retirement plan for all state employees.


The Kentucky Department of Corrections recently announced they were hiring Correctional Officers to fill 1,038 full and part-time positions available at 13 state prisons.

The Kentucky DOC also hires positions ranging from Education Specialists (teachers) to electricians, maintenance, boiler operators, and more.


Kentucky Department of Corrections

Federal Bureau of Prisons