How to Become a Correctional Officer in Utah

Over 15,000 members of the public and 5,900 prisoners are under the control of the nearly 2,300 staff members of the Utah Department of Corrections (UDC). The Department offers jobs for chaplains, registered nurses, accountants, maintenance specialists, social workers, Adult Probation and Parole agents, chaplains, registered nurses, and many more.

Their committed team of professionals works closely with partner agencies, the community, and the general public to effectively manage offenders and ensure public safety. Their team is committed to giving offenders the best possible chance to change for the better through responsibility, care, education, and encouragement in a secure setting.


A UDC Correctional Officer’s primary responsibility is to guard and supervise prisoners confined in penal institutions. This essential role does not vary by facility, but the specific responsibilities will depend on the size and type of institution.

Correctional Officers may work in a small county or municipal jail with general duties or in large state prisons with more specialized responsibilities.

Whatever location you select, it will be your responsibility to:

  • maintain order 
  • enforce institution rules 
  • ensure the safety of inmates and fellow officers 
  • prevent escape

Unarmed Correctional Officers will directly supervise inmates. They could be locked in a cell block by themselves or with another officer to monitor 50 to 100 inmates. Excellent reasoning and communication abilities are a huge asset in this situation.


The requirements for UDC Correctional Officer positions include:

  • be a US citizen or a legal permanent resident of the US (LPR)
  • be at least 21 years old when certified as a special function officer or correctional officer;
  • have a high school diploma or provide proof of successful completion of an examination indicating equivalent achievement;
  • have not been convicted of a crime for which the applicant could have been sentenced to imprisonment in a federal penitentiary or in a state penitentiary;
  • have shown good moral character as determined by a background check; and
  • be free of any physical, emotional, or mental condition that could impair the applicant’s performance of his or her duties as a peace officer;
  • undergo a criminal history background check of local, state, and national criminal history files, as well as a background investigation


The following entry requirement is expected for admission to the POST academy: 

  • Vertical leap (14.5 inches)
  • Pull-Ups (14 Reps -Maximum repetitions with no time constraint and no rest during this phase of the test)
  • Plank Isometric (:30)
  • Run 1.5 miles (16:11)

The following is the recommended testing procedure and order:

  • Warm up for three minutes before performing the Vertical Jump test and resting for two minutes.
  • Perform the Maximum Push Up test, followed by a 5- to 10-minute rest period.
  • Perform the Isometric Plank test and take a 5- to 10-minute break.

Warm up with cardio for 2 to 3 minutes, then run 1.5 miles and cool down with cardio for 5 minutes.

Basic Correctional Officer Certification Program Includes:

  • Seven-week program
  • 5 credit hours
  • Successful completion of this module qualifies cadets to work at a county jail or at the state prison.

Instructional Courses Include:

  • Introduction to the Criminal Justice System 
  • Police Ethics
  • Officer Fundamentals
  • Basic Officer Criminal Law 
  • Defensive Tactics 
  • Officer Patrol and Investigations  
  • Corrections Legal 
  • Inmate Behavior 
  • Inmate Management 
  • Inmate Control 
  • Physical Skills 


According to Utah law, the Director of the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) academy may waive the “Basic Training” requirement for peace officer certification if the applicant has successfully completed a comparable training program that, in the Director’s opinion, is equivalent to the program required for certification in Utah. Waiver candidates must provide POST with a copy of their basic training curriculum as well as verification of program completion.

WAIVER refers to a person who has completed a basic training program for a peace officer or dispatcher other than the one mandated by Utah POST and wishes for Utah POST to accept that training and waive the basic training requirement. The training program in its entirety or in part may be waived.

Basic Correctional Officers in Utah must also have completed the Special Function Officer (SFO) program, even if they are not required to be certified as an SFO. The SFO curriculum emphasizes the criminal and traffic codes, the judicial system, search and seizure ideas, mental health, defensive techniques, de-escalation, and conflict resolution.

Your waiver application will be denied if your correctional curriculum does not cover those courses. POST has come across correctional officer curricula from other states that do not match the approval criteria. If you just have these certificates, your waiver application will be denied until you finish a Special Function Officer (SFO) block of training.


Although having a college degree is not a minimum requirement with the UDC, Utah has implemented the Public Safety Officer Career Advancement Grant (POSCAR). PSOCAR reimburses students engaged in criminal justice-related programs at a Utah System of Higher Education school for up to half of their tuition and fees (up to $5,000 per year, subject to funding) for up to eight years. 

PSOCAR qualified applicants must:

  • be a certified peace officer currently employed by a Utah law enforcement agency; 
  • be pursuing a postsecondary degree in the field of criminal justice from a credit-granting USHE institution; 
  • have earned credit for all classes for which the applicant is seeking reimbursement;
  • have been employed as a certified peace officer by a Utah law enforcement agency for three consecutive years prior to the completion of the academic year for which he or she is seeking reimbursement; and
  • be employed by a law enforcement agency in Utah as a certified peace officer for one additional year after the completion of that academic year.

Some schools in Utah offering Criminal Justice degrees include:

The University of Utah: Criminology

Utah State University: Criminal Justice


The Bureau of Labor and Statistics lists the average salary for Correctional Officers in Utah as $48,050. 

Additional Benefits Include:

Health and Wellness

  • Medical Insurance
  • Dental Insurance
  • Vision Insurance
  • Wellness Benefits
  • Additional Medical Benefits


  • Retirement
  • 401(k) Matching Program
  • Life Insurance
  • Employee Discount Program
  • Other Potential Benefits

Paid Time Off

  • Vacation
  • Sick Time 
  • Holidays 
  • Bereavement


Corrections is the fastest-growing field in law enforcement. The government’s ongoing campaign to crack down on crime has resulted in the construction of more jails, prisons, and detention facilities across the country. All of this means that corrections officers will be in higher demand.


Utah Department of Corrections