How to Become a Correctional Officer in Arkansas: Training, Jobs & More

Are you looking for a rewarding career that allows you to make a difference in the lives of inmates and contribute to community safety? Becoming a correctional officer in Arkansas could be the perfect opportunity for you. This step-by-step guide on how to become a correctional officer in Arkansas will walk you through the process of becoming a correctional officer in the state, from meeting the necessary requirements to advancing your career and enjoying the benefits that come with the job.

What you’re about to learn in this guide:

  • Becoming a correctional officer in Arkansas requires meeting specific background, education, and experience requirements.

  • Physical fitness standards must be met and extensive training programs completed to apply for the position.

  • Career advancement with increasing salary & benefits is available along with potential rewards of positively impacting inmates & communities.

Arkansas Correctional Officer Requirements

Embarking on a career as a correctional officer in Arkansas requires fulfilling certain prerequisites. These ensure that officers possess the requisite background, education, and experience to carry out their duties proficiently in both state and federal correctional complexes such as Forrest City and Little Rock.

Education and Experience

First and foremost, aspiring correctional officers must possess a high school diploma or its equivalent. When it comes to experience, it’s necessary to have relevant work experience that demonstrates your preparedness to shoulder the responsibilities that accompany the role of a correctional officer. Remember, the prerequisites can differ between federal and state positions, hence, understanding the specific requirements of the position you aim to apply for is key.

Age and Background Check

Besides education and experience, correctional officer candidates in Arkansas must be at least 18 years old and have a clean criminal record. This ensures that officers are both mature and trustworthy enough to handle the sensitive nature of their work.

As part of the application process, a comprehensive background check is carried out to verify that applicants satisfy these criteria and are fit for the role.

State vs Federal Correctional Officer Positions

Although both state and federal correctional officers in Arkansas share some common responsibilities, such as maintaining security and order within correctional facilities, there are notable differences in their roles and requirements. State correctional officers are typically employed by the state and are responsible for overseeing the daily operations of state prisons, while federal correctional officers are employed by the federal government and focus on the security of federal prisons. In both federal and state prisons, these officers play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and well-being of inmates and staff.

When it comes to education, state correctional officers usually need a high school diploma or GED, while federal correctional officers are required to have a bachelor’s degree. The training process also differs, with state officers completing a 280-hour training academy in Arkansas, while federal officers undergo an initial three-week orientation training followed by 120 hours of training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy in Glynco, Georgia.

Physical Fitness and Training

Maintaining safety and order within correctional facilities necessitates that correctional officers are physically fit and well-trained. In Arkansas, officers must meet certain physical fitness standards and complete specific training programs, which vary depending on whether they are pursuing a state or federal position.

Physical Fitness Standards

Arkansas correctional officers must meet established physical fitness standards that demonstrate their ability to perform the essential duties of the job. These standards include:

  • Completing a quarter-mile run within 2 minutes and 35 seconds

  • Navigating an obstacle course in 58 seconds

  • Climbing 108 steps while carrying a 20-pound weight in 45 seconds

The purpose of these physical fitness tests is to ascertain that correctional officers possess the required strength, stamina, and agility to effectively respond to emergencies, restrain combative inmates, and uphold the overall safety and security of the institution.

Training Programs

In addition to meeting physical fitness standards, Arkansas correctional officers must complete a comprehensive training program at the Sargent Training Academy. State officers undergo a 280-hour training academy that covers topics such as:

  • State correctional rules

  • Handling male inmates’ problems

  • Firearms and taser training

  • Self-defense tactics

  • Physical fitness conditioning

Additionally, they must complete 40 hours of classroom education annually.

For federal correctional officers in Arkansas, particularly those in Jefferson Country, the training process starts at the federal correctional complex they are assigned to, followed by a 120-hour training program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy in Glynco, Georgia. This training, provided by the federal bureau, encompasses various areas, preparing officers for the challenges they may face in a federal correctional setting.

Application Process and Job Opportunities

After fulfilling the necessary requirements and completing the requisite training, you become eligible to apply for correctional officer positions in Arkansas. Job opportunities exist in various locations, from state prisons like the Pine Bluff Complex, Benton, and Lincoln County to federal facilities like the Texarkana Regional Correction Center and Forrest City, as well as in Washington County.

How to Apply

Applying for a correctional officer position in Arkansas typically involves:

  • Completing an application form

  • Passing a drug test

  • Undergoing a criminal background check

  • Taking a basic skills test

  • Passing a medical exam

  • Holding a valid Arkansas driver’s license

These assessments are designed to ensure that you possess the necessary qualifications and aptitude for the role.

During the application process, candidates typically undergo evaluations and interviews to gauge their suitability for the role. Be prepared to discuss your education, work experience, and any relevant training you’ve completed to demonstrate your readiness for the job.

Job Opportunities

Employment opportunities for correctional officers in Arkansas span federal, state, and local facilities. Job openings for correctional officers in the state are available on the Arkansas Department of Corrections website, as well as job search websites such as Indeed and Monster.

Keep in mind that the requirements and training for federal correctional officers differ from those for state and local positions. Thoroughly research the specific requirements for each position to ensure that you are well-prepared and qualified for the role you’re applying for.

Career Advancement and Benefits

A career as a correctional officer in Arkansas offers:

  • The opportunity to positively influence the lives of inmates and enhance community safety

  • A path for career advancement and growth

  • Eligibility for promotions, salary increases, and other benefits as you gain experience and complete additional training.

Career Advancement

Correctional officers in Arkansas have a variety of career advancement opportunities available to them. They may pursue higher education or gain relevant work experience to qualify for federal or state corrections officer positions. The Arkansas Department of Correction/Department of Community Correction also offers a Basic Correctional Officer Training (BCOT) program, providing a strong foundation for career development.

In addition to pursuing higher-level positions, there may also be opportunities for promotions within the correctional system, such as advancing to higher ranks or specialized positions. These opportunities may require additional education or experience.

Benefits and Salary

Correctional officers in Arkansas enjoy competitive salaries and benefits packages. The starting salary range for federal correctional officers in the state is between $31,315 and $45,376, depending on experience and education level. Salary increments are contingent upon performance and experience.

In addition to salary, correctional officers in Arkansas receive benefits packages that include:

  • Health insurance

  • Retirement plans

  • Premium dental and vision insurance

  • Short-term and long-term disability insurance

  • Critical care insurance

Working in Specific Arkansas Facilities

The role of a correctional officer in specific Arkansas facilities may come with its unique set of challenges and responsibilities. Some of the key responsibilities of a correctional officer include:

  • Screening visitors and mail entering the facility

  • Managing monetary deposits made by the family members and friends of inmates

  • Maintaining the safety and security of the institution

These responsibilities are crucial in maintaining the overall safety and security of the correctional facility.

While the duties and challenges may vary depending on the specific facility and location, correctional officers in Arkansas consistently strive to make a positive impact on the lives of inmates, contribute to community safety, and uphold the highest standards of professionalism in their work.

Challenges and Rewards of Being a Correctional Officer in Arkansas

The role of a correctional officer in Arkansas presents certain challenges, which include managing volatile and unpredictable inmates, working extended hours, and coping with potential physical and mental stress associated with the job. However, the rewards of the profession can be significant, including high levels of job satisfaction, the ability to maintain a balanced work-life, and the opportunity to make a positive impact on local communities.

As a correctional officer, you’ll have the chance to:

  • Be a part of a dedicated team focused on maintaining safety and providing opportunities for reform within the prison system, while addressing the needs of the prison population

  • Transform the lives of inmates

  • Contribute to a safer, more secure community for everyone


In conclusion, becoming a correctional officer in Arkansas presents a rewarding career path that offers the opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of inmates and contribute to community safety. From meeting the necessary requirements to advancing your career and enjoying the benefits that come with the job, this step-by-step guide has provided you with the information needed to begin your journey toward a fulfilling career as a correctional officer in Arkansas. Take the first step today and embark on a career that truly makes an impact.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the most a correctional officer can make?

The most a Correctional Officer can make is up to $103,000 per year, depending on seniority levels and location. This rate is typically between $13 and $25 an hour. The federal government tends to offer the highest salary at $60,540 annually.

How long does it take to become a correctional officer in Louisiana?

To become a correctional officer in Louisiana, an individual must possess 30-119 college semester hours and 3-5 years of experience.

What are the requirements to be a correctional officer in Delaware?

In order to become a Correctional Officer in Delaware, applicants must be 19 1/2 years old, possess a high school diploma or equivalent, have a valid driver’s license, and have no felony or DUI convictions within the last two years. A starting salary of $43,500 with a $3,000 sign on incentive is offered.

How do I become a correctional officer in Arkansas?

To become a correctional officer in Arkansas, applicants must have a valid driver’s license and high school diploma or equivalent and complete the 280-hour training academy.

What are the educational requirements for becoming a correctional officer in Arkansas?

To become a correctional officer in Arkansas, applicants must possess a high school diploma or equivalent, while federal positions may require a bachelor’s degree.

Scroll to Top