How to Become a Correctional Officer in Hawaii: Training, Education, and Job Opportunities

Have you ever considered how to become a correctional officer in Hawaii, in the beautiful state of Hawaii? A career in corrections can be both challenging and rewarding, providing a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of inmates and the community. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll explore the training, education, and job opportunities available for aspiring correctional officers in Hawaii.

What you’re about to learn in this guide:

  • Becoming a correctional officer in Hawaii requires a high school diploma/GED, valid driver’s license and background investigation.

  • Education and experience are important for career advancement opportunities, while competitive salaries of $52,138 per year plus benefits are offered to officers.

  • Challenges such as maintaining professional boundaries must be addressed when working in corrections to ensure safety and order.

Requirements for Becoming a Correctional Officer in Hawaii

Before you set out on your path to become a correctional officer in Hawaii, you need to be aware of the necessary requirements to succeed in this role. The requirements include:

  • A high school diploma or GED as the minimum educational requirement

  • Possessing a valid driver’s license

  • Undergoing a comprehensive background investigation to ensure you meet the standards for the job.

The subsequent sections will further explore the required education and experience, the necessity of a valid driver’s license, and what the background investigation process entails.

Education and Experience

A high school diploma or GED is a fundamental requirement for those aspiring to become correctional officers in Hawaii. While this is the minimum educational qualification, pursuing further education or gaining more experience can provide numerous benefits. Not only can it increase your job prospects and provide greater career opportunities, but a comprehensive background investigation is also essential to ensure you’re the right fit for the position.

For those looking to advance in their careers, obtaining a degree from an accredited college or university could be beneficial. The additional education and experience will undoubtedly make you a more competitive candidate and open up new possibilities within the field of corrections.

Valid Driver’s License

For those aiming to be correctional officers in Hawaii, possessing a valid driver’s license is a key requirement. This is because officers may be responsible for transporting inmates or other personnel to and from correctional facilities, such as the Waiawa Correctional Facility and Halawa Correctional Facility. Failure to maintain a valid driver’s license can lead to fines, suspension, or even incarceration, so it’s vital to ensure you meet this eligibility requirement.

Background Investigation

A comprehensive background investigation is a mandatory step in the application process for candidates. This typically encompasses a criminal history check, an evaluation of prior behavior and job performance, and a fingerprint check. These checks are crucial in ensuring you have the necessary qualifications and integrity to work as a correctional officer in Hawaii.

A criminal history check involves:

  • Reviewing your criminal record to ensure you meet the standards for the position

  • Evaluating past behavior and job performance to assess your suitability for the role

  • Conducting a fingerprint check to verify that your fingerprints match those required for the position.

Hawaii Department of Public Safety: Corrections Division

The Corrections Division, operating under the Hawaii Department of Public Safety, is committed to maintaining justice and public safety. They deliver correctional and law enforcement services to Hawaii’s communities with a high degree of professionalism, integrity, and fairness. Within this division, aspiring correctional officers will undergo the Adult Corrections Officer Recruit Program and Basic Corrections Recruit Class to prepare for their careers.

We will examine these two vital training programs that will furnish you with the skills and knowledge required to function as a correctional officer in Hawaii.

Adult Corrections Officer Recruit Program

The Adult Corrections Officer Recruit Program is a comprehensive training program designed to equip individuals with the necessary skills to pursue a career as a correctional officer in Hawaii. The program encompasses classroom instruction, physical training, and on-the-job training.

Upon successful completion of the Adult Corrections Officer Recruit Program, recruits are qualified for employment as adult corrections officers in Hawaii. This program serves as the first step in your journey towards becoming a correctional officer in the state, providing you with the foundation you need to excel in this challenging and rewarding field.

Basic Corrections Recruit Class

In addition to the Adult Corrections Officer Recruit Program, the Basic Corrections Recruit Class is another crucial component of your training. This six-week program is designed to further equip recruits with the requisite knowledge and abilities to serve as a correctional officer in Hawaii.

The Basic Corrections Recruit Class encompasses classroom instruction, physical training, and on-the-job training, ensuring a well-rounded education for aspiring officers. With the successful completion of this program, you’ll be well-prepared to face the challenges and rewards of a career in corrections.

Application and Examination Process

The application and examination process is a significant stage in your path to becoming a correctional officer in Hawaii. It consists of submitting an application, taking a written test and physical ability test, and participating in an oral interview. These procedures are in accordance with federal and state regulations, ensuring that only the most qualified candidates are selected for this demanding profession.

The upcoming sections will provide in-depth insights into each stage of the application and examination process, giving you a clear understanding of what lies ahead in your journey to become a correctional officer in Hawaii.

Submitting an Application

Your first step towards becoming a correctional officer in Hawaii is to submit a completed application to the Department of Public Safety. This application must include:

  • Your employment and education history information

  • A high school diploma or equivalent

  • One year of work experience

  • Completed application forms

  • Supporting documents electronically attached to your application.

Please be aware that additional requirements, such as a background investigation, psychological evaluation, and medical examination, may also be necessary as part of the application process. Once your application is submitted, the Department of Public Safety will provide notification of your acceptance or rejection status.

Written Test and Physical Ability Test

Upon application submission, the subsequent stage in the examination process involves taking a written test, a physical ability test, a pre employment drug test, and a pre employment physical examination. The written test encompasses topics such as general knowledge, basic skills, and career-specific aptitude on professional standards and facility operations, while the physical ability test includes a 1.5-mile run, push-ups, sit-ups, and a vertical jump. These tests are administered by the Hawaii Department of Public Safety: Corrections Division and serve to evaluate your knowledge and physical abilities.

It’s essential to prepare thoroughly for these tests, as they play a crucial role in determining your eligibility for a position as a correctional officer in Hawaii. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the content of the written test and practice the physical ability test components to ensure your best performance on test day.

Oral Interview

After successfully passing the written test and physical ability test, you will then proceed to an oral interview. This interview is conducted by a panel of experienced correctional officers and is intended to evaluate your knowledge, skills, and abilities as they relate to the position of a correctional officer in Hawaii.

During the oral interview, you can expect to be asked questions regarding your experience working in a correctional environment, your ability to manage conflict, and your enthusiasm for working with inmates. Being well-prepared for this interview is crucial, as it provides the panel with a comprehensive understanding of your suitability for the role.

Training and Probationary Period

Newly appointed correctional officers in Hawaii are required to complete an initial probationary period and participate in continuous professional development to keep their skills current and stay abreast with field best practices.

The upcoming sections will cover the initial probationary period and highlight the significance of continuous professional development for correctional officers in Hawaii, within the framework of the collective bargaining agreement.

Initial Probationary Period

The initial probationary period is an essential part of your training as a new correctional officer in Hawaii. This six-month period serves as an opportunity for you to gain experience and demonstrate your ability to perform the duties of a correctional officer.

During this probationary period, you’ll be closely monitored by supervisory staff to ensure you’re meeting the expectations of the role. Successfully completing this probationary period is a crucial step in securing your position as a full-time correctional officer in Hawaii.

Ongoing Professional Development

In addition to the initial probationary period, ongoing professional development is essential for correctional officers in Hawaii. Engaging in continuous professional development ensures you stay current with best practices, maintain your skills, and can adapt to the ever-changing landscape of the corrections field.

Some examples of professional development activities for correctional officers include attending conferences, taking classes, and participating in online training. Investing time and effort into your ongoing professional development will not only enhance your job satisfaction and performance but also contribute to your long-term career growth and security in the field of corrections.

Job Opportunities in Hawaii’s Correctional Facilities

Multiple job opportunities for correctional officers are available in Hawaii, encompassing positions in state-run community correctional centers, federal prisons, and juvenile facilities. Each of these facilities presents unique challenges and rewards, allowing you to find the perfect fit for your skills, interests, and career goals.

The subsequent sections will delve into the various types of correctional facilities in Hawaii and outline the specific job opportunities available within them.

State-Run Community Correctional Centers

State-run Hawaii Community Correctional Center, managed by the Hawaii Department of Public Safety, offers a variety of services to inmates, such as educational and vocational training, substance abuse treatment, and other rehabilitative services. Working in a state-run community correctional center involves providing security and custodial services, maintaining custody and control of inmates, recording reports and completing daily logs, distributing clothing and tools to inmates, allocating duties to inmates, and organizing daily schedules for prisoners.

As a correctional officer in a state-run community confinement facility, you’ll play a crucial role in helping inmates transform their lives and successfully reintegrate into society upon their release. If you’re interested in pursuing correctional officer jobs, this is an excellent opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.

Federal Prisons

Federal prisons in Hawaii offer additional job opportunities for correctional officers. These facilities are operated by the federal government and house inmates convicted of federal crimes. As a correctional officer in a federal prison, your responsibilities will include:

  • Enforcing applicable rules and regulations

  • Supervising, caring for, and providing correctional treatment to inmates

  • Performing maintenance-related driving

Working in a federal prison can be a rewarding experience, as you’ll have the opportunity to contribute to the safety and security of both the prison environment and the larger community.

Juvenile Facilities

Juvenile facilities in Hawaii provide specialized opportunities for those interested in working with young offenders. These facilities focus on rehabilitating and educating young people who have been convicted of crimes, with the ultimate goal of helping them become productive members of society.

As a correctional officer in a juvenile facility, you’ll be responsible for:

  • Providing care, custody, and control of juvenile wards

  • Aiding in their adjustment and redirection

  • Executing security duties

  • Supervising juveniles in groups and individual activities

  • Creating records and reports on residents’ behavior and progress

  • Establishing a conducive environment for rehabilitation

Working with young offenders can be both challenging and incredibly rewarding, as you’ll have the chance to make a lasting impact on their lives and futures.

Salaries and Benefits of Correctional Officers in Hawaii

Salaries and benefits for correctional officers in Hawaii vary based on experience and rank. The average salary for a correctional officer in Hawaii is reported to be $52,138 per year. In addition to a competitive salary, correctional officers in Hawaii enjoy a comprehensive benefits package, which includes:

  • Health insurance

  • Retirement plans

  • Paid time off

  • Training and development opportunities

  • Job security

These benefits make a career as a correctional officer in Hawaii attractive and rewarding.

Average Salaries

Correctional officers in Hawaii earn an average salary of $52,138 per year. However, it’s important to note that salary variations may apply based on your experience and rank within the department. For instance, a correctional officer with more experience may receive a higher salary than one with less experience, and a higher rank may also result in a higher salary.

Benefits and Protections

Besides competitive salaries, correctional officers in Hawaii are also entitled to a variety of benefits and protections. These include:

  • Health insurance

  • Group life insurance

  • Flexible spending accounts

  • A retirement plan

  • A premium conversion plan

These benefits not only provide financial security and peace of mind but also contribute to an overall sense of well-being and job satisfaction for correctional officers in Hawaii.

Challenges and Rewards of a Career in Corrections

A career in corrections presents both challenges and rewards. While you will encounter emergency situations, allegations of sexual abuse, and the continuous necessity for professional boundaries, you will also have the chance to make a positive difference in the lives of those within the correctional system and enhance the safety and well-being of your community.

Emergency Situations

Correctional officers must be prepared to handle emergency situations, such as:

  • Assaults

  • Riots

  • Hostage situations

  • Suicides

  • Blunt trauma incidents

In these high-stress situations, it’s crucial to remain composed and take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of both inmates and personnel.

Maintaining order and control within the facility is paramount for the safety and well-being of all involved.

Allegations of Sexual Abuse

Preventing and addressing alleged sexual abuse within the correctional facility is essential for ensuring the safety and welfare of inmates, personnel, and visitors. Correctional officers must be vigilant in identifying and reporting any incidents of sexual abuse and must take all necessary steps to protect those who are vulnerable to such abuse.

Professional Boundaries

Maintaining professional boundaries with inmates is crucial for maintaining safety and order within the facility. It’s important to maintain a professional relationship with inmates and staff to ensure that the facility operates efficiently and creates a safe environment for all. Breaching these professional boundaries can result in disciplinary action, such as suspension or termination of employment, and in some cases, criminal charges.


In conclusion, becoming a correctional officer in Hawaii is a challenging yet rewarding career path. With the right education, training, and dedication, you can make a meaningful impact on the lives of inmates and contribute to the safety and well-being of your community. As you embark on this journey, remember to maintain professional boundaries, stay vigilant in preventing and addressing allegations of sexual abuse, and be prepared to handle emergency situations with grace and composure.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do ACO make in Hawaii?

The Hawaii Department of Corrections furnishes correctional officer salary data indicating that the average Correctional Officer in Hawaii earns $52,138 per year. The salary range typically falls between $46,422 and $57,859, with the 25th percentile at $93,800 and the 75th percentile at $124,800.

How much does a federal Correctional Officer earn in Hawaii?

A Federal Correctional Officer in Hawaii can expect to earn an average of $57,378 per year, ranging from $46,422 to $57,859.

What’s the most a Correctional Officer can make?

A Correctional Officer can earn an average salary of $81,100 per year in California, with the highest nationwide salary reaching up to $103,000 annually.

Does Hawaii have a Department of Corrections?

Yes, Hawaii has a Department of Corrections which oversees four jails: the Hawaii Community Correctional Center, Kauai Community Correctional Center, Maui Community Correctional Center and Oahu Community Correctional Center.

How do I become a corrections officer in Hawaii?

To become a corrections officer in Hawaii, you must complete an interview with the Department of Public Safety, pass a criminal history check and background investigation, undergo a medical/physical examination, take a pre-employment drug test, and successfully complete the Basic Correctional Training program. After this, there is a nine-month probationary period.

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