How to Become a Correctional Officer in Kentucky: Training, Jobs & Requirements

Are you considering a career in law enforcement? If you’re wondering how to become a correctional officer in Kentucky, this is an excellent opportunity to contribute to public safety and make a difference in the lives of inmates. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of becoming a correctional officer in Kentucky, including training, jobs, requirements, and more.

What you’re about to learn in this guide:

  • Applicants must submit an application and pass interviews, tests, a written examination and psychological evaluation to become a Correctional Officer in Kentucky.

  • Requirements include having a high school diploma or GED, being at least 21 years old with no misdemeanors or felonies on one’s criminal record. 160 hours of comprehensive training is also required for the position.

  • Working as a correctional officer offers competitive benefits packages along with challenges but rewarding opportunities such as providing safety & rehabilitation services.

Steps to Becoming a Correctional Officer in Kentucky

Embarking on a career as a correctional officer in Kentucky involves several steps:

  1. Submit an application to the Kentucky Department of Corrections or a federal facility.

  2. Participate in interviews and testing, such as a panel interview, written examination, and psychological evaluation.

  3. Undergo a background check.

  4. Meet the pre-employment requirements.

Application Process

Your journey to become a correctional officer in Kentucky begins with submitting an application to the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet website. If your qualifications meet the standards, you will be placed on a register of eligible candidates. This may result in you being contacted when positions become available in the counties you specified as desirable locations to work as a correctional officer..

Verification of satisfying the Kentucky Department of Correction’s minimum requirements for employment is crucial, as this may lead to consideration for positions in state prisons such as:

  • Kentucky State Penitentiary

  • Western Kentucky Correctional Complex

  • Luther Luckett Correctional Complex

  • Roederer Correctional Complex

Interviews and Testing

Upon acceptance of your application, a series of interviews and tests await completion. The panel interview is a face-to-face meeting with a panel of correctional officers and other law enforcement personnel, who will inquire about your qualifications, experience, and knowledge of the correctional system.

Passing a written examination is another requirement, aimed at evaluating your knowledge of the correctional system and critical thinking skills. You’ll also undergo a psychological evaluation, which includes a series of tests and interviews that assess your mental health and emotional stability, regardless of whether you’ll be working with male or female inmates.

Background Check and Pre-Employment Requirements

Passing a background check and meeting certain pre-employment requirements is mandatory before becoming a correctional officer in Kentucky. The background check process involves completing forms and submitting them by mail, with the investigation taking approximately 10 business days. Keep in mind that you must have a clean criminal record to work in facilities like the Oldham County’s Luther Luckett Correctional Complex.

To become a Correctional Sergeant in Kentucky, you’ll need a high school diploma and one year of experience in corrections, law enforcement, criminal justice, social work dealing with the rehabilitation of offenders, or in the supervision and care of young adults.

Education and Experience Requirements

Possession of a high school diploma or GED is a prerequisite to becoming a correctional officer in Kentucky. While a bachelor’s degree is not necessary, some employers may accept a combination of education and experience in lieu of a high school diploma or GED.

Additional qualifications may vary between state and federal facilities and can include prior work experience, military service, or college education.

High School Diploma or GED

A high school diploma or GED is the minimum education requirement for correctional officer positions in Kentucky. This ensures that all candidates possess the basic knowledge and skills necessary for the job. In some cases, employers may consider experience and additional education as an alternative to the high school diploma or GED requirement.

Additional Qualifications

Beyond the high school diploma or GED, other qualifications include:

  • being at least 21 years old

  • possessing physical agility for the job

  • having a clean criminal record with no misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence or felonies

These qualifications ensure that you’re capable of handling the responsibilities and challenges of a correctional officer career in Kentucky.

Training Programs for Kentucky Correctional Officers

After meeting the education and experience requirements, the next step involves completing training programs that equip you with necessary skills for your job as a correctional officer. In Kentucky, new corrections officers are required to undergo training. This consists of 160 hours spread over two phases. The first phase consists of orientation and computer-based training, while the second phase covers more specialized topics such as firearms qualification and physical fitness.

Orientation and Computer-Based Training

The orientation and computer-based training phase provides an introduction to the job and teaches you the necessary skills to excel as a correctional officer. Computer-based training utilizes technology to deliver instruction and feedback, allowing for more efficient and productive training while enabling you to monitor your progress and evaluate your success.

Firearms Qualification and Physical Fitness

In addition to the orientation and computer-based training, you’ll need to complete firearms qualification and physical fitness training. The firearms qualification process involves completing a firearms safety or training course approved by the Department of Criminal Justice. This ensures that you’re capable of handling firearms responsibly and effectively in your role as a correctional officer. Additionally, annual continuing education training is required, with a minimum of 40 hours.

On-the-Job Training

On-the-job training is another crucial aspect of your preparation for a career as a correctional officer in Kentucky. This type of training allows you to gain experience and learn from seasoned professionals while working in a real-world setting. You may participate in training programs provided by the Kentucky Department of Corrections, which are tailored to meet the requirements and directives of the employees and encompass the essential job knowledge and abilities needed to be a successful corrections officer.

Working in Kentucky Federal Prisons

If you’re interested in working in federal prisons within Kentucky, there are four major facilities operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons:

  • Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Manchester

  • United States Penitentiary (USP) McCreary

  • FCI Ashland, also known as Kentucky Ashland

  • Lexington Federal Medical Center

These facilities, including Big Sandy, offer a range of security levels and house inmates with various needs and backgrounds, ensuring that blocked individuals are properly accommodated.

Working in federal prisons provides the opportunity to:

  • Further your career in corrections

  • Contribute to public safety and the rehabilitation of inmates

  • Participate in educational and self-enrichment programs

  • Work in prison work details, ensuring that inmates have a chance to learn valuable skills and prepare for their eventual release and reintegration into society.

Correctional Officer Jobs in Local and County Facilities

In addition to state and federal facilities, corrections jobs, including corrections officer jobs and correctional officer positions, are also available in local and county facilities across Kentucky. These facilities play a crucial role in providing essential services and maintaining public safety in cities and counties throughout the state.

Job openings and qualifications may vary by location. Therefore, conducting research and inquiring about requirements in your desired employment area is advisable before making a request.

Salary and Benefits for Kentucky Correctional Officers

For Kentucky correctional officers, salary and benefits can differ based on location and experience level, but there’s always potential for advancement and increased pay. On average, correctional officers in Kentucky earn an estimated annual salary of approximately $32,435.

Some facilities, such as the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, offer the following benefits for correctional officers:

  • Competitive benefits packages

  • Generous pay

  • Paid training

  • Hazardous duty retirement

  • A variety of assignments

  • Potential for advancement

These benefits can make a career as a correctional officer in Kentucky highly rewarding and fulfilling.

Challenges and Rewards of a Correctional Officer Career in Kentucky

Pursuing a career as a correctional officer in Kentucky brings along a set of unique challenges. Here are some key aspects to consider:

  • Managing individuals with diverse backgrounds, including those with a history of employment instability, substance abuse issues, and prior convictions.

  • Meeting the physical requirements of emergency situations.

  • Fulfilling annual training obligations.

  • Coping with the stressful nature of the job.

Despite these challenges, the rewards of a correctional officer career in Kentucky are numerous. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Ensuring safety and security within correctional facilities

  • Providing rehabilitation opportunities for inmates

  • Making a positive impact on their lives

  • Personal satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment in making a difference within your community


In conclusion, pursuing a career as a correctional officer in Kentucky offers a unique opportunity to contribute to public safety and make a positive impact on the lives of inmates. From meeting education and experience requirements to completing rigorous training programs and working in various facilities across the state, you’ll be well-prepared to face the challenges and rewards of this demanding but fulfilling career. Remember, your dedication and hard work can lead to personal satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment in making a difference within your community.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does the Kentucky Department of Corrections pay?

The Kentucky Department of Corrections pays an average salary of $41,000 per year for its correctional officers, ranging from $20,500 to $68,000 depending on experience and other factors.

What’s the most a Correctional Officer can make?

A Correctional Officer or Jailer can earn up to $81,940 depending on seniority levels, with the highest pay rate in California at around $81,100 and the lowest in Arkansas at $27,584. The national average salary is $39,369, while the top ten percent of Correctional Officers earn an average salary of $69,610 per year and the most experienced may make as much as $103,000 annually.

Can you be a Correctional Officer with a felony in KY?

Unfortunately, all felony and domestic violence convictions automatically disqualify applicants from becoming a Correctional Officer in KY. Therefore, the best option for individuals with a felony conviction is to try to get their criminal record expunged or sealed from their record. All corrections officer candidates must also pass a criminal background check as part of the application and hiring process.

What are the minimum requirements to become a correctional officer in Kentucky?

To become a correctional officer in Kentucky, one must have a high school diploma or GED, be at least 21 years old, possess the physical agility to perform the duties of the job, and not have a felony or misdemeanor conviction of domestic violence.

What is the application process for becoming a correctional officer in Kentucky?

To become a Correctional Officer in Kentucky, applicants must first submit an application to the Personnel Cabinet website. If their qualifications meet the standards, they will be placed on the register of eligible candidates and may be contacted when positions become available.

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