The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) has a legal duty to keep individuals in the public, staff members, visitors to its prisons, and prisoners safe. This is accomplished through effective incarceration methods and routine monitoring.
Security doesn’t just involve counting, searching, and locking doors. It includes giving incarcerated people the ability to change their thinking and behavior. Assessments, therapy, programming, and comprehensive reentry planning provide those skills.
WHAT DOES A NEBRASKA CORRECTIONAL OFFICER DO
The NDCS aspires to be the best in the business of corrections. The status quo is no longer good enough. They seek excellence when setting new goals and challenge each other to accomplish them.
NDCS Correctional Officer duties include:
- Supervise inmates in a wide variety of situations and activities
- Conduct thorough inspections and searches of inmates, buildings, and grounds
- Perform security observation duties, including duty in 45-50 feet high towers
- Prepare documentation regarding institutional matters such as incident reports, misconduct reports, and logs
- Conduct counts
- Operate security equipment such as portable and mobile radios, electronic panel switches, keys in locks, fire extinguishing equipment, hand tools, and mechanical levers
- Respond to emergencies
- Restrain and control inmates.
- Transport inmates leaving the institution on any travel order
BECOMING A CORRECTIONAL OFFICER IN NEBRASKA
All applicants for Correctional Officer positions with the NDCS must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Possess a high school education or equivalent
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Must be able to possess a firearm and ammunition legally.
Applicants accepting a job offer must pass the following pre-employment exams in this order: a medical exam and, at a randomly announced time, pass a drug test. Once at the Staff Training Academy, you must complete the fully paid NE Corrections Training Program to include CPR, first aid, firearms, and self-defense tactics.
NEBRASKA EDUCATION AND CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS
All new staff must successfully finish the six-week Nebraska Corrections Training Program on hire. This fully paid program provided by the Staff Training Academy covers topics such as CPR, first aid, firearms training, and self-defense. You are treated as an employee after completing the Corrections Staff Training Academy since you are now considered a compensated individual.
The STA also provides pre-service training and annual in-service training to all new employees, as well as contract staff/volunteer training, jail officer training, instructor courses, and assistance for a variety of professional development programs.
The Pre-Service program is designed to give prospective employees the necessary skills and knowledge to begin their career in corrections.
128 hours of new-hire training is required for everyone hired to work as an employee for the Nebraska Department of Corrections Services or as a contract provider. The Staff Training Academy provides direct supervision for the following training hours:
- Support employees with direct inmate contact receive a total of 192 hours of training
- Unit staff/Case Workers attend 240 hours of training
- Correctional Officers attend 240 hours of training
- NDCS also offers training to jail staff who participate between 75 and 115 hours of training.
Additional hours of training listed below are received after graduating from the Staff Training Academy.
- Unit staff and Correctional Officers receive an additional 80 hours of Field Training Officer (FTO) and On the Job Training (OJT).
- Most other positions receive at least 40 hours of on-the-job training (OJT).
OPTIONAL PATH TO CERTIFICATION
Nebraska recognizes other jurisdictions’ law enforcement certification as a basis for eligibility for obtaining Nebraska certification. A reciprocity candidate must apply for, be admitted to, and successfully complete the Reciprocity program. An officer is not eligible for Nebraska certification if their law enforcement certificate has been revoked, suspended, or under current disciplinary review in the jurisdiction that issued it.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE DEGREES
Nebraska does not require a degree to qualify for entry-level positions. However, the department values education and experience. Full-time employees are eligible to receive tuition assistance, whether an undergraduate or graduate, to further their careers.
Some Criminal Justice and Criminology programs in Nebraska include:
The University of Nebraska, Lincoln – School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Nebraska Wesleyan University – Criminal Justice Minor
NEBRASKA CORRECTIONAL OFFICER SALARY
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics lists the average salary for a Correctional Officer in Nebraska as $46,500. Nebraska also offers an excellent benefits package, including:
You and your family can choose from several plans as an eligible state employee. The state’s employee premiums make high-quality medical coverage affordable.
- Medical & Prescription
The state offers a $20,000 term life insurance policy at no cost to all permanent, full-time employees; and at a pro-rated price to permanent, part-time employees. Permanent employees may elect to purchase additional life insurance coverage for themselves and their families.
- 12 days of vacation and 12 days of sick leave per year (after five years, increase in leave earnings vary)
- 13 paid holidays per year
- Bereavement leave in the event of an immediate family member’s death
- FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) entitles eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for qualifying family and medical reasons
- Paid leave for a jury or other civil duties
- Leave for military service
Nebraska helps employees prepare for life after their careers by offering an excellent mandatory retirement plan, which includes employee and employer contributions. State employees hired on a permanent part-time basis, who have attained the age of 18, may exercise their option to begin immediate participation in the plan.
In addition, employees may participate in the Deferred Compensation Program. Employees may request the state defer payment of a portion of their income to a later date. Deferred compensation is available to any employee and can be started and stopped at any time.
CORRECTIONAL OFFICER JOB PROSPECTS
The job prospects for Correctional Officers in Nebraska are excellent. The state is currently facing a correctional officer shortage and is actively recruiting new officers. Salaries for correctional officers in Nebraska are also relatively high, making the profession a desirable one.