How to Become a Correctional Officer in North Carolina

North Carolina’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) is responsible for statewide public safety and homeland security and acts as the State’s top protector and defender of the populace. Law enforcement and public safety issues, such as the supervision of criminals in jail or under community corrections supervision, justice reinvestment, and reentry planning, are the primary priority with regard to citizens and legislators.

The department currently has openings for Correctional Officers. They offer a competitive salary and benefits.


Correctional Officers, who answer to Correctional Sergeants, are in charge of assuring the care, custody, and control of offenders. The following are only a few of the duties of these positions: 

  • Touring the designated sites, which will occasionally include ascending stairs and remaining still for a long time. 
  • Observing the behavior of offenders in person and via closed-circuit television. 
  • Carrying out general security tasks to stop escapes, chaos, rule violations, and injury to offenders, guests, and personnel. 
  • Looking for weapons and illegal goods while searching inmates, guests, cells, and other places. 
  • Tracking and controlling employee and offender movement.
  • Maintaining and keeping track of offender counts, jail placements, and other relevant data. 
  • Escorting criminals inside and outside the facility. 
  • Performing several other specialized security tasks depending on the post assignment.


A high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate, one year of work experience as a Correctional Officer, or an equivalent combination of education and experience, are the minimum qualifications for Correctional Officers. High school graduation, a General Educational Development (GED) certificate, or an equivalent combination of education and experience are the minimum requirements for a trainee appointment. 

The minimum education and experience criteria (above) for the Correctional Officer posts may be met by an equivalent combination of the education and experience specified below. 

  • Any field-specific associate degree or undergraduate degree in any subject
  • Military experience (a year of full-time military duty counts as one year of experience; no dishonorable discharge is allowed)


  • Must be a citizen of the United States and at least 20 years old. 
  • Must have a driver’s license in good standing. 
  • An unaltered copy of the DD-214, Report of Separation (long form), must be submitted with the application by candidates who have military experience. 
  • National Guard applicants must additionally complete Form NGB-23A. 
  • Complete the NC Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission’s mandated psychological assessment.
  • Complete the NC Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission-required physical examination. 


The education and certification requirements for sheriff’s deputies, law enforcement personnel, corrections officers, and juvenile justice personnel are governed by the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Education and Training Standards Commission and the Criminal Justice Education & Training Standards Commission. The Department of Justice employs personnel for both commissions. Attorneys from the Department of Justice are in charge of representing the commissions.

All employment classifications involved in maintaining custody of inmates are required to complete Correctional Officer Basic (COB) Training, which lasts six weeks. Primary subjects include:

  • Firearms 
  • Legal Issues for Correctional Supervision 
  • Emergency Procedures 
  • Psychomotor Skills 
  • The Prison Culture 
  • Operational Process 
  • Administrative Matters

The curriculum has been expanded to include practical, skill-based training like searches, CRDT, and extendable batons. Officers will take new training in cross-gender supervision, mental health, verbal de-escalation, drug identification, crisis intervention, prison subculture, conflict resolution, and team building. 


Out-of-state candidates for reciprocity must have a minimum of two years of full-time, sworn law enforcement experience. They must also have successfully completed a basic law enforcement training course. Transferees from outside the state are not permitted to take breaks longer than three years. 

If there has been no break in service or less than a 12-month hiatus in duty, a law enforcement officer with general certification may transfer from one law enforcement agency in North Carolina to another.

All transfers from out-of-state are regarded as Probationary Appointees and must fulfill the stipulations in order to receive Probationary Certification as a law enforcement officer. Our staff will assess your credentials after receiving the necessary papers to decide whether any extra training is necessary during your probationary year. 

Along with the prerequisites listed above, you must also provide the following paperwork: 

  • a letter from your former law enforcement organization stating that you are in good standing and that you have served on a FULL-TIME, sworn basis
  • a replica of your Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) course completion certificate
  • a topical outline or curriculum of the BLET courses you took


North Carolina’s DPS does not require a college degree as part of the minimum requirements to qualify as a Correctional Officer. However, college credit can be used in lieu of experience. A college degree will also enhance your application.

Some colleges in North Carolina with Criminal Justice or Criminology Degrees include:

North Carolina State – Criminology

Appalachian State University – Criminology


The Bureau of Labor and Statistics lists the average salary for Correctional Officers in North Carolina as $41,520. 

There are numerous advantages to joining North Carolina’s DPS, including:

Health Insurance

  • starting at $25 per month
  • health
  • dental
  • vision coverage

Paid Vacation

  • 14 days of vacation time, increasing with service
  • 12 days of sick leave
  • 12 days holiday leave
  • other leave for government, volunteer work, military service, parental responsibilities, and voluntary service
  • premium pay for shifts and overtime


  • retiring on a state pension (contribution by employees: 6%; contribution by the state: 22.89%)

Clothing Allowance

  • uniforms
  • footwear
  • outerwear


A range of criminal justice careers are available through the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (DPS). In North Carolina’s state prisons, correctional officers are the cornerstone of the custody profession. 

The Department of Public Safety employs around 26,000 people, with more than 10,000 of those working as correctional officers throughout North Carolina. For those in the criminal justice field, the organization offers numerous job options.


North Carolina Department of Public Safety

Federal Bureau of Prisons