How to Become a Correctional Officer in South Carolina

The South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) works to protect the community by housing criminals in secure facilities and offering opportunities for rehabilitation and self-improvement, helping inmates get ready to reintegrate into society. The South Carolina Department of Corrections staff is a forward-thinking force that collaborates to guarantee each other’s safety, enhance the lives of the prisoners, attend to their legitimate needs, and get them ready for re-entry into society.


Corrections is a challenging yet rewarding career field that allows you to serve your community and others. Officers work with inmates and have the unique opportunity to positively impact their lives by maintaining a safe environment and supporting their rehabilitation to be productive members of society upon release. Duties consist of:

  • Keep order in the prisoner’s housing, cafeteria, workplaces, and surrounding areas.
  • Instruct and supervise prisoners who are assigned to different tasks.
  • Maintain and report the inmate count, daily logs, and other information.
  • Maintain the building’s cleanliness and sanitization; order and direct the distribution of supplies, tools, and equipment; and keep an equipment inventory.
  • Guide guests and civilian workers around the designated facility.
  • Make sure that prisoners receive the recommended medical and behavioral treatments.
  • Man the tower at the control gate or another post.
  • Conduct necessary security checks, searches, and inspections of the designated buildings, building contents, grounds, vehicles, and people.
  • In a security setting, maintain and use security equipment like gates, doors, weapons, and mechanical devices. 
  • Investigate complaints from prisoners or residents and take the necessary action. Resolve any dispute involving a dorm or building that calls for assistance and crisis intervention; report to the appropriate personnel.


There are 21 South Carolina Department of Corrections institutions, divided into four different types of facilities: close security, medium security, and minimum security, which includes community-based pre-release/work centers for those classified as being in minimum-out custody. The custody of an institution is determined by its physical layout, housing options, operational practices, and security personnel levels. Based on their designated custody, inmates are assigned to institutions that can meet their unique security, programming, medical, educational, and employment needs. Minimum requirements for Correctional Officer positions include:

  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must be 18
  • Must have a GED or high school diploma
  • Must have a current driver’s license
  • Must be healthy enough to pass an SCDC physical
  • Correctional Officers must complete the introductory certification course
  • Applicants cannot have a criminal record that carries a $1,000 fine or a maximum sentence of one year
  • Tattoos must not be derogatory, gang-related, or on the head or face. Neck tattoos will be assessed on a case-by-case basis


The South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy will provide facilities and training for all officers from state, county, and local law enforcement agencies. Correctional officers and other personnel employed or appointed by the South Carolina Department of Corrections will be trained by the academy. 

According to South Carolina law, the goal of the Basic Detention Training Program (BD) is to give officer candidates the knowledge, skills, and abilities they need to carry out the duties of a certified detention officer in the state of South Carolina. Currently, the Basic Detention training course lasts three weeks. After completing the training, the candidate will receive Class 2 Law Enforcement Officer certification.


Correctional Officers seeking certification reciprocity must have the hiring agency send a complete documentation package to Certification, Training, and Standards for review and approval before sending it to the Academy Director for final review and approval. The Academy notifies and contacts the requesting department to arrange a registration date after receiving the Director’s final approval. Allow at least 10 days to 2 weeks for this review after receiving all necessary documentation, including the POST letter of good standing.


The SCDC does not require a college degree as a minimum requirement for Correctional Officer positions. However, additional education and training will be considered during the selection process.

Colleges in South Carolina that provide Criminology or Criminal Justice degrees include:

The University of South Carolina – Criminology and Criminal Justice

Clemson University – Criminal Justice


The Bureau of Labor and Statistics lists the average salary for Correctional Officers in South Carolina as $40,620. 

South Carolina provides eligible employees with a wide range of benefits, including paid vacation and sick time, health and dental insurance, and retirement and savings plans. Additionally, some state agency employees can access work-life balance programs like telecommuting and flexible work hours. Other benefits include:

  • Benefits of Insurance – Eligible workers can sign up for health insurance, which also offers prescription and wellness benefits. Additional insurance benefits include dental, vision, term life, long-term disability, and flexible spending accounts for medical and child care costs.
  • Pension Benefits – Defined benefit and contribution retirement plans are offered to state employees. Qualified workers also have the option to sign up for the South Carolina Deferred Compensation Program, a voluntary, extra retirement savings program with opportunities for 401(k) and 457 plans.
  • Benefits at Work – State employees may also be qualified for additional benefits, such as discounts on goods and services, free time off for holidays and sick days, and assistance with tuition.

Notably, all state employees, except those in temporary positions, are eligible for the benefits mentioned earlier. As benefits vary depending on the type of position held, temporary, grant, and time-limited employees may be qualified for all, some, or none of these benefits. Contact the hiring organization for more information on potential benefits for these positions.


The South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) is looking for people ready to step up to the plate and serve the community. The team members embody the department’s safety, service, and stewardship mission. SCDC has a fantastic career opportunity for you, whether working as a case worker, teacher, nurse, food service specialist, or correctional officer.


South Carolina Department of Corrections

Federal Bureau of Prisons