How to Become a Correctional Officer in South Dakota

South Dakota’s adult prison system, adult parole program, and juvenile prisons program are all managed by the South Dakota Department of Corrections. This also applies to minors who have been turned over to the Department of Corrections and placed in residential out-of-home placement, as well as minors who have finished their placement in a correctional facility and are on supervised release, also known as aftercare.


Each SD Department of Corrections officer is assigned a post or a specific duty. Typical responsibilities for the majority of positions include:

  • monitoring, supervising, and keeping track of the inmates who are assigned to them; 
  • keeping logs, producing reports, and recording incidents and rule violations; 
  • escorting and transporting inmates; 
  • inspecting and searching cells, inmates, and visitors; 
  • responding to emergencies, which may involve running and climbing stairs 
  • Officers use specialized tools, including two-way radios and weapons.

The SD Department of Corrections offers a wide range of positions in places like inmate entertainment centers, control rooms, cell halls, visitation rooms, and guard towers. Until officers apply for a new position, posts are often permanent. We usually advertise open positions to consider requests from personnel to switch to a new shift or post inside the facilities. Requests for transfers to different prisons within the state are also considered.

Officers will work 12-hour shifts with alternate days and every other weekend off. An officer is only permitted to work 7 days in a row, with no more than 3 consecutive days out.


The SD Department of Corrections is looking for self-assured, outspoken, independent applicants who behave professionally. Additionally, officers must exercise sound judgment, respond calmly and skillfully in emergencies, remain constantly aware of their surroundings, collaborate with others as a team, be driven and persistent with their work assignments, and communicate effectively. Being able to perform these duties is unrelated to physical characteristics or gender.

Selection is based on applicants’ ability to match the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to fulfill a Correctional Officer’s responsibilities effectively. Based on current and anticipated vacancies, we only have a small number of positions to fill and may only choose the candidates who best meet our requirements.

There are no set qualifications for education or work history. Although having a background in law enforcement or criminal justice is very advantageous, new officers get training in the skills they will need to perform their duties. However, candidates must have a few fundamental abilities, such as the capacity to: 

  • Take note of your surroundings and recent occurrences.
  • Transmit information in a clear, concise, and accurate manner.
  • Read, write, comprehend, and put into practice English written instructions
  • Accurately count and write down the results of the count.
  • In times of stress, stay calm, cheerful, and focused.
  • Make wise choices.

Correctional Officers must be at least 18 years old. Any job offer is contingent upon passing a drug test and a pre-employment physical before starting training. 

Before making a job offer, a criminal history check will also be performed. Applicants may not be allowed to work at the facilities if they have any felony convictions for domestic violence, drug usage, or misdemeanor convictions.


All new SD Department of Corrections must complete four weeks of classroom instruction. During this training, officers will study the institution’s regulations and procedures as well as various abilities, including how to use restraints, enter cells safely, and perform shakedowns. 

The first four weeks of training take place from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday. The majority of our correctional facilities host training sessions on-site. After pre-service training, there are four weeks of mentoring.

There is a six-month probationary term after hiring. If we decide that the position is not a good fit at this time, officers may be fired for any reason. Correctional Officers will enter the civil service once this period has been completed.


Previously certified Correctional Officers applying for reciprocity consideration must submit a written application that includes proof of the applicant’s exemption from the training program. The applicant must have either been employed within the previous two years as a certified law enforcement officer in another jurisdiction and have completed a course of equivalent content and quality, or they must have completed a study of comparable scope and quality in another jurisdiction no more than two years before the date of their appointment. The applicant can take the written test if the documentation has been approved.

A certificate as a qualified law enforcement officer will be issued following successful fulfillment of the reciprocity criteria and if the applicant meets the minimum requirements for certification as specified in 2:01:02:01.


There are no secondary educational requirements for Correctional Officers in South Dakota. However, as stated earlier, education is seriously considered during the application process.

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

The University of South Dakota – Criminal Justice

South Dakota State University – Criminology


The Bureau of Labor and Statistics lists the average salary for Correctional Officers in South Dakota as $42,160. 

The State of South Dakota provides its employees with a comprehensive benefits package. Consider a position with them if you’re looking for an enjoyable work environment with incredible perks and opportunities for professional progress.

Benefits Include:

  • 120 hours (15 days) Leave of Absence
  • 114 hours (14 days) Sick Time
  • 11 paid holidays 
  • Paid Family Leave

Employee health insurance includes a plan with no premium for coverage that is exclusive to employees.

Group pricing is available for long-term and short-term disability insurance, dentistry and vision care, and family medical insurance.

Retirement Benefits Include:

  • Fully matched Retirement Plan at 6-8%
  • Supplemental Retirement Plan
  • Fully vested after three years

Additional Benefits Include:

  • Paid Professional Liability Insurance-Public Entity Pool for Liability (PEPL) Fund 
  • Longevity Pay 
  • Training Opportunities 
  • Reduced Tuition at State Universities
  • No State income tax 


The SD Bureau of Human Resources (BHR) is in charge of all permanent positions in the State of South Dakota. The BHR accepts applications and posts any new employment positions online. The department is frequently advertising for Correctional Officer positions.


South Dakota Department of Corrections

Federal Bureau of Prisons