How to Become a Correctional Officer in Arizona: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you considering a career in corrections? Arizona offers a wealth of opportunities for those seeking to learn how to become a correctional officer in Arizona, with competitive salaries, comprehensive benefits, and extensive training programs. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps to achieve this goal, highlighting the requirements, application process, and job opportunities across various counties.

What you’re about learn in this guide:

  • Arizona correctional officers must meet certain requirements, including education and experience levels, age restrictions, citizenship status and background checks.

  • Comprehensive training is provided to ensure a strong foundation for advancing in corrections careers.

  • Correctional officer positions offer competitive salaries plus comprehensive benefits packages across multiple Arizona counties with opportunities available in juvenile facilities as well.

Arizona Correctional Officer Requirements

Becoming a correctional officer in Arizona involves fulfilling specific requirements set forth by the Arizona Department of Corrections. These requirements are designed to ensure that candidates possess the necessary skills, knowledge, and character to uphold the security and order within correctional facilities.

The following overview covers the requisite education, experience, age, citizenship, and background checks for Arizona correctional officers.

Education and Experience

To be considered for a position as a correctional officer in Arizona, you must possess a high school diploma or GED. While no specific experience is required, having a background in law enforcement, military service, or experience working with at-risk individuals could be advantageous.

Furthermore, possessing additional skills, such as being a sign language interpreter, can be beneficial in this line of work.

Age and Citizenship

To qualify as a correctional officer in Arizona, applicants must be a minimum of 18 years old, have legal U.S. residency proof, and possess a valid Arizona driver’s license with acceptable driving records.

Background Investigation

As part of the hiring process, candidates must undergo a thorough background investigation, including driver’s license record checks, to ensure that they have no felony convictions and maintain acceptable driving records. This investigation includes an evaluation of the applicant’s:

  • past conduct

  • criminal records

  • credit assessments

  • employment history

Furthermore, a polygraph examination may be conducted to evaluate integrity and any past employment misconduct.

Arizona Department of Corrections Hiring Process

After meeting the basic requirements, aspiring correctional officers must navigate the Arizona Department of Corrections hiring process. This process includes:

  1. Submitting an employment application

  2. Completing a comprehensive knowledge exam

  3. Participating in an oral interview

  4. Undergoing a fit-pro examination

The subsequent information details each step of the hiring process.

Application and Exams

Initiate the application process by reaching out to the Recruitment Unit for Selection and Hiring (RUSH) at 1-888-545-RUSH (7874), or apply online via the Arizona State jobs portal. The application incorporates a comprehensive knowledge exam, gauging your grasp over the correctional system and your ability to manage challenging situations.

This exam, an existing testing component, is an essential part of the hiring process and helps determine your eligibility for a correctional officer position in Arizona.

Oral Interview

The oral interview is a critical step in the hiring process, as it provides an opportunity for you to showcase your knowledge, skills, and abilities to the hiring team. During the interview, a panel of two or more members of the hiring team will ask you questions related to the position and your experience.

Preparing for the oral interview is essential, as it can foster confidence and eloquence during the interview, and aid in providing more effective responses to questions.

Training Academy

Once you have successfully completed the application and interview process, you will attend the Correctional Officer Training Academy (COTA) in Tucson. This nine-week live-in program provides the necessary knowledge, abilities, and skills to establish a strong foundation for advancing in corrections careers.

The COTA program includes both classroom instruction and on-the-job training, ensuring that you are well-prepared for your role as a correctional officer in Arizona.

Federal Correctional Facility Employment in Arizona

In addition to Arizona state government correctional officer positions, Arizona also offers opportunities for employment within federal correctional facilities. These positions have separate application processes and requirements.

The upcoming discussion will cover the application, assessments, medical evaluations, and background checks for federal correctional facility employment in Arizona, including the Arizona State Prison Complex, as per the Arizona Administrative Code.

Application and Assessments

The application process for federal correctional officers in Arizona is similar to that of state correctional officers, including:

  • Written exam

  • Fitness test

  • Psychological exam

  • Medical/physical exam

  • Drug screen

However, the qualifications for federal correctional officers are different, typically requiring a bachelor’s degree or three years of work experience in related fields.

Medical Evaluation and Background Check

The medical evaluation for federal correctional officers in Arizona typically comprises a physical examination, psychological evaluation, and a background check. This thorough evaluation process helps ensure that candidates are physically and mentally fit for the demanding role of a federal correctional officer.

Federal Training Course

Upon successful completion of the application process, federal correctional officers in Arizona undergo a seven-week pre-service academy program approved by the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board. New federal correctional officers must complete a comprehensive 200 hour training program via Introduction to Correctional Techniques Phases I & II. This pre-employment training is essential for success in the field. This comprehensive training program equips officers with the essential skills and knowledge required to effectively execute their duties in federal correctional facilities.

Correctional Officer Salaries and Benefits in Arizona

Now that we have covered the requirements, hiring process, and training for both state and federal correctional officers in Arizona let’s discuss the financial aspect of this career.

The proceeding overview will highlight the salary structure and benefits package for correctional officers in Arizona.

Salary Structure

The salary structure for Arizona correctional officers varies according to factors such as experience and location. The starting salary for a correctional officer in Arizona ranges from $45,621 to $54,975 annually, inclusive of a Critical Services Premium Pay Stipend. Additional geographical stipends may also apply depending on the facility’s location.

Benefits Package

In addition to competitive salaries, Arizona correctional officers are eligible for an affordable comprehensive benefits package. This package includes:

  • Medical and dental benefits

  • 10 paid holidays per year

  • 12 paid vacation days per year

  • 12 paid sick days per year

Furthermore, correctional officers in Arizona are eligible for retirement benefits, providing additional long-term financial security for those who choose this career path.

Opportunities in Various Arizona Counties

Correctional officer positions are available throughout Arizona, with opportunities in various counties such as Maricopa, Mohave, and Pima.

The following exploration delves into correctional officer opportunities in these counties, providing insight into the available facilities and job prospects.

Maricopa County

Maricopa County, the most populous county in Arizona, offers a variety of correctional officer positions, including those in county jails, state prisons, and juvenile detention centers. As the largest county in the state, Maricopa County presents ample opportunities for correctional officers to advance in rank, such as Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Captain.

Mohave County

Mohave County provides correctional officer positions in county jails, state prisons, and juvenile detention centers. With its diverse range of facilities, Mohave County offers various opportunities for those interested in pursuing a career in corrections, including Detention Officer I and Correctional Facility roles.

Pima County

Pima County, located in southern Arizona, also offers a wide range of correctional officer positions in county jails, state prisons, and juvenile detention centers. With its proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border, Pima County correctional officers play a critical role in apprehending criminals for offenses committed along the border.

Juvenile Corrections in Arizona

If you are interested in working specifically with at-risk youth, Arizona offers numerous opportunities in juvenile corrections. Subsequently, we delve into the job descriptions, qualifications, and training requisite for juvenile correctional officers in Arizona.

Job Description

Juvenile correctional officers in Arizona are responsible for:

  • Providing supervision, guidance, and support to juveniles in correctional facilities

  • Conducting security checks

  • Ensuring facility security

  • Supervising and monitoring juveniles’ activities.

Additionally, juvenile correctional officers may perform administrative and clerical tasks, as well as driving duties such as transporting juveniles to court hearings or medical appointments.

Qualifications and Training

To work in a juvenile correctional facility in Arizona, you must meet the minimum qualifications, including having a high school diploma or GED, being at least 21 years old, and testing negative for Tuberculosis. In addition to these basic qualifications, applicants must complete a training program that encompasses both classroom instruction and on-the-job training, ensuring that they are well-prepared to work with at-risk youth in a correctional setting.


In conclusion, pursuing a career as a correctional officer in Arizona offers numerous opportunities for personal and professional growth. With competitive salaries, comprehensive benefits, and extensive training programs, correctional officers play a vital role in maintaining public safety and rehabilitating offenders. Whether you are interested in working at the state or federal level, or specifically with at-risk youth, Arizona provides a variety of options to suit your career goals. The path to becoming a correctional officer in Arizona may be challenging, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to become a Correctional Officer in Arizona?

To become a Correctional Officer in Arizona, new officers must complete nine weeks of training at the Correctional Officer Training Academy in Tucson, followed by two weeks of job site training, as well as 40 hours of continuing education each year.

How much does corrections pay az?

The average Arizona Department of Corrections salary ranges from approximately $26,694 per year to $115,000 per year, with an average hourly pay range of $17.25 to $20.61. Correctional Officer salaries in Arizona start at around $38,000 and go up to $53,400, while jobs by hourly rate for the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry range from $20 to $25 per hour.

What disqualifies you from being a Correctional Officer in Arizona?

Having a felony conviction or any drug-related or violent misdemeanor is a sure disqualification for becoming a correctional officer in Arizona. This is especially true when it comes to domestic violence crimes, regardless of severity.

Do correctional officers get drug tested in Arizona?

Yes, in Arizona, prospective correctional officers must pass a drug test as part of the pre-employment requirements.

How long is the probationary period for a correctional officer in Arizona?

The probationary period for a correctional officer in Arizona is 12 months.

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