How to Become a Correctional Officer in Massachusetts: A Step-by-Step Guide

Have you ever considered playing a vital role in maintaining law and order while helping rehabilitate offenders? Learning how to become a correctional officer in Massachusetts can be a rewarding and fulfilling career. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of joining the ranks of dedicated professionals who ensure public safety and provide opportunities for offender rehabilitation.

What you’re about to learn in this guide:

  • Candidates must possess a high school diploma or GED, two years of experience in criminal justice and pass pre-screening including background checks, drug tests and physical fitness tests.

  • The civil service examination process evaluates knowledge and skills to become a correctional officer. Applicants should prepare for the exam accordingly.

  • Successful candidates will undergo training at Shirley Correctional Complex Training Academy before entering their career as Massachusetts correctional officers with equal opportunity employment opportunities available.

Massachusetts Correctional Officer Requirements

If you’re considering a career as a correctional officer in Massachusetts, be prepared to meet certain requirements. These encompass education, experience, and background checks. Each candidate must possess the necessary qualifications and skills to uphold public safety and provide direct supervision to offenders in various correctional institutions.

Discover more about the necessary qualifications for this vital role in the Commonwealth’s criminal justice system.

Education and Experience

The foundation for a successful career as a correctional officer in Massachusetts begins with meeting the minimum educational requirement: a high school diploma or a GED. Candidates need at least two years of full-time experience in counseling, corrections, social work, rehabilitation, or another criminal justice field to qualify for the role. Military experience can also count towards this requirement, as long as candidates pass a physical abilities test.

Background Check and Drug Test

Another critical aspect of the correctional officer application process is passing a background check and drug test. The pre-screening process for corrections officer jobs in Bridgewater is comprehensive. It includes:

  • Extensive reference and criminal background checks

  • Drug testing

  • Psychological tests

  • Physical fitness tests

It is essential to note that drug offenses, whether felonies or misdemeanors, may preclude individuals from becoming correctional officers in Massachusetts.

Expect the background check process to take weeks to months, requiring a considerable amount of patience.

Valid Driver’s License and Vehicle Operator’s License

A valid driver’s license from Massachusetts or another state is required for correctional officers in the Commonwealth. Applicants must possess a valid permit to carry firearms in Massachusetts. Without one, they must acquire it before starting the job. Massachusetts accepts out-of-state driver’s licenses for correctional officer positions.

There are age restrictions for obtaining a driver’s license and vehicle operator’s license, with applicants between 16½ and 18 being eligible for a Junior Operator’s License, subject to certain restrictions.

Civil Service Examination Process

Following the initial requirements, candidates must go through the civil service examination process to further their journey towards becoming a correctional officer in Massachusetts. This process evaluates candidates’ knowledge and skills, ensuring they possess the aptitude necessary to excel in this demanding profession.

In the subsequent subsections, we explore the content of the written exam and preparation resources, aiding your success in this vital stage.

Written Exam Content

The written examination for the Correctional Officer I position in Massachusetts consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. These questions address topics such as applying information, reading comprehension, basic math, identifying issues, memorization, and written communication. The exam aims to evaluate six abilities pertinent to the performance of a correction officer, including grammar, accuracy skills, mental acuity, and written skills.

Candidates are given 3 hours to complete the test, providing ample opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and abilities.

Preparing for the Exam

Effective preparation for the correctional officer civil service exam can significantly enhance your chances of success. Some resources, like JobTestPrep, offer study materials, test-taking strategies, and practice tests to help you excel. To ensure success in civil service exams, follow these steps:

  1. Start preparing as soon as possible.

  2. Create a study schedule and stick to it.

  3. Study effectively by using various study techniques, such as summarizing information, creating flashcards, and teaching the material to someone else.

  4. Read and comprehend the exam material thoroughly.

  5. Take practice tests regularly to familiarize yourself with the format and types of questions you may encounter.

By following these steps, you can increase your chances of performing well on the correctional officer civil service unit exam.

Be mindful of common errors candidates make during preparation, such as:

  • Insufficient practice

  • Overlooking the need to prepare for personality tests

  • Undervaluing the selection process and requirements for becoming a correctional officer.

Physical Fitness Test and Standards

For a correctional officer, maintaining physical fitness is key to ensure safety and order within correctional institutions. Candidates must meet or exceed specific physical fitness test requirements to be enrolled in the recruit training program. The physical fitness test for Massachusetts correctional officers consists of sit-ups, push-ups, and a 1.5-mile run.

Failure in any of these minimum entrance requirements tests will disqualify a candidate, hence the importance of effective preparation and training to meet these standards.

Psychological Evaluation

In addition to physical fitness, candidates must undergo a psychological evaluation to assess their mental stability and suitability for the challenging role of a correctional officer. The psychological evaluation process for correctional officer candidates in Massachusetts includes one-on-one interviews with a psychologist or clinician to assess their background, personality, and mental stability.

The evaluation criteria encompass a background investigation, medical examination, and discussions about the candidate’s background. This evaluation helps determine whether candidates possess the necessary emotional resilience to manage the challenges and responsibilities of being a correctional officer.

Applying for Correctional Officer Positions

With the necessary qualifications, experience, and successful completion of exams and evaluations, candidates are ready to apply for correctional officer positions in Massachusetts. Job postings for correctional officer roles can be found on the following websites:



  • Glassdoor

  • SimplyHired

  • ZipRecruiter

Typically, the application process involves submission of the Employment Application form, meeting basic requirements, taking the Correction Officer I Exam, and undergoing a background investigation followed by a board interview. Be sure to have all required documents prepared, such as a completed application form, valid driver’s license, high school diploma or GED, medical exam results, and background check results.

Training Academy and Recruit Training Program

Once hired, new correctional officers in Massachusetts must complete a twelve-week Recruit Academy to prepare for their role. This comprehensive training program takes place at the Shirley Correctional Complex Training Academy and covers essential topics such as defensive tactics, first aid, and direct supervision of offenders.

Completion of this training program paves the way for a fulfilling career as a correctional officer in the Commonwealth.

Types of Correctional Officer Jobs in Massachusetts

Correctional officer jobs in Massachusetts span a variety of positions, from state prisons to federal institutions, under the supervision of the Massachusetts Department of Correction. Examples of state prisons include the Pondville Correctional Center, a minimum-security state prison home to approximately 200 men, and the medium-security Bay State Correctional Center, accommodating roughly 300 male inmates.

MCI-Norfolk is the largest state prison in Massachusetts, offering programs such as:

  • An alternative to violence

  • Chess club

  • Poetry group

  • Various 12-step programs

Each institution provides unique opportunities for both correction officers and correctional officers to make a positive impact on the lives of offenders and contribute to public safety.

Salaries and Benefits for Massachusetts Correctional Officers

As a correctional officer in Massachusetts, anticipate competitive salaries and benefits. The average correctional officer salary in Massachusetts was reported to be $60,700 in 2012. Salaries may vary depending on the location, with the annual median wage for correctional officers in the Providence-Fall River-Warwick area reported to be $59,590.

Correctional officers in Massachusetts may be eligible for promotions and salary increases based on their performance and experience. A career as a correctional officer offers financial stability and the opportunity for growth within the field.

Equal Opportunity Employment and Diversity

The Massachusetts Department of Corrections is an equal opportunity employer, committed to fostering diversity in its correctional officer workforce. This commitment ensures fairness in the recruitment process and prevents discrimination based on the following factors:

  • Race

  • Religion

  • Creed

  • National origin

  • Ancestry

  • Age

  • Gender identity

  • Sexual orientation

  • Genetic information

  • Veteran status

  • Handicap

  • Pregnancy

  • Pregnancy-related conditions

Various diversity initiatives have been implemented by correctional facilities in Massachusetts, such as the Racial Equity In Corrections Initiative (REICI), aimed at fostering a more inclusive and diverse work environment.


In conclusion, becoming a correctional officer in Massachusetts is a rewarding career path that contributes to public safety and offender rehabilitation. By meeting the necessary requirements, passing the civil service examination, and completing the recruit training program, you can join the ranks of dedicated professionals who make a difference in the lives of others every day. Take the first step toward a meaningful career as a correctional officer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

It typically takes 10 weeks to become a correctional officer in Massachusetts, as applicants must complete the Department of Corrections Basic Training academy which includes physical conditioning and instruction in rules, procedures and regulations of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections.

How much do federal correctional officers make in Massachusetts?

The average salary for a Federal Corrections Officer in Massachusetts is $54,204 per year, with an hourly rate of $24.98.

What’s the most a correctional officer can make?

A Correctional Officer or Jailer can earn up to $81,940 annually with an associate’s degree or vocational school training. The best jobs for Corrections Officers can pay up to $103,000 per year.

What is a correctional program officer in Massachusetts?

Correctional program officers in Massachusetts are responsible for overseeing the programs and units within correctional institutions, as well as assigning inmates to institutional jobs and ensuring compliance with community work crew policies.

What is the minimum educational requirement for becoming a correctional officer in Massachusetts?

To become a correctional officer in Massachusetts, you must have at least a high school diploma or GED.

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