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

Have you ever considered a rewarding career as a correctional officer in Michigan? If so, you’re in the right place. In this article, we will discuss how to become a correctional officer in Michigan. By working as a correctional officer, you play a vital role in maintaining public safety and helping rehabilitate inmates to positively contribute to society. Let’s explore the steps, requirements, and tips for landing a successful career as a correctional officer in the Great Lake State.

What you’re about to learn in this guide:

  • Become a Correctional Officer in Michigan: Satisfy educational, experience, age and other requirements, complete initial training program and continuing education opportunities, provide security/supervision, counseling services & mental health support to inmates.

  • Employment Opportunities vary by state-run or federal institutions with salary ranging from $22.53-$55K per year plus benefits packages.

  • Job search strategies include networking & staying organized (connecting w/ professionals in the field, attending job fairs etc.), as well as interview preparation (research facility specifics etc.).

Requirements for Becoming a Correctional Officer in Michigan

Becoming a correctional officer in Michigan involves meeting certain education, experience, age, and other qualifications. Factors like the facility, location, and officer’s experience can influence correctional officer salaries in Michigan. Whether you’re in the Upper Peninsula, Lower Peninsula, or any city in Michigan, these requirements apply to all aspiring corrections officers.

Education and Experience

A high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate is the minimum education requirement for becoming a correctional officer in Michigan, including the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Even though no specific degree is preferred, having some college education or prior experience working in a correctional facility can be beneficial, potentially resulting in a higher officer salary in Michigan.

In addition to the minimum education requirement, correctional officers are expected to possess strong communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and the capacity to work under pressure. Given their close work with prisoners and other professionals within the facility, possessing these qualities is vital for carrying out their duties effectively.

Age and Other Qualifications

Aspiring correctional officers in Michigan must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old

  • Pass a comprehensive background check

  • Pass the Local Corrections Officer Physical Abilities Test (LCOPAT), administered by the Michigan Sheriffs’ Coordinating and Training Council (MSCTC)

While there are no specific citizenship requirements to become a correctional officer in Michigan, the ability to communicate effectively in English and knowledge of the state’s laws, rules, and regulations are essential for performing job duties and responsibilities.

Training and Certification for Michigan Correctional Officers

After meeting the basic requirements, the subsequent step involves completing the required training and certification process. This includes an initial training program covering self-defense, firearms, and other essential skills, as well as continuing education opportunities for career advancement within the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Initial Training

New correctional officers in Michigan must complete 320 hours of training at the Michigan Department of Corrections Training Academy. This program covers a wide range of topics, such as:

  • Report writing

  • Procedures

  • Booking and intake

  • Correctional law

  • Cultural diversity

  • Custody and security

  • Defensive tactics

  • Ethics

The training program combines classroom instruction with practical, on-the-job training to ensure that officers are well-prepared for their roles in maintaining safety and security within correctional facilities.

Training emphasizes the importance of safety and security procedures, critical to both officers’ and inmates’ well-being and maintaining a secure correctional facility. Upon completion of the training program, new correctional officers must pass a physical fitness evaluation and the LCOPAT to meet the physical fitness requirements.

Continuing Education and Advancement

To maintain their employment as correctional officers in Michigan, individuals must acquire 15 college credits within 24 months of employment. Furthermore, additional training and certifications are available to enhance their capabilities and progress their careers, such as:

  • Corrections Training Officer (CTO) Course

  • Vocational Certificate

  • Corrections Certificate

  • Corrections Officer Training Academy

Continuing education and advancement opportunities can greatly benefit a correctional officer’s career in Michigan. Keeping abreast of the latest techniques, technologies, and best practices in the field of corrections allows officers to enhance their knowledge and skills, pursue career advancement opportunities, and network with professionals in their field to broaden their professional contacts.

Job Duties and Responsibilities of a Correctional Officer in Michigan

Correctional officers in Michigan have the important responsibility of ensuring security and providing counseling and mental health services to inmates. The officer’s salary in Michigan may vary depending on factors such as the facility, location, and officer’s experience.

Security and Supervision

Maintaining order, discipline, and security within correctional facilities is the primary responsibility of correctional officers in Michigan. They supervise the daily activities of inmates, ensuring that they abide by the regulations. This involves:

  • Overseeing and participating in the custody, security, and treatment of prisoners or detainees in correctional facilities

  • Maintaining records and preparing reports

  • Ensuring proper labor relations and conditions of employment are adhered to

To monitor inmate activities, correctional officers in Michigan utilize various methods, such as:

  • Observing and responding to critical incidents

  • Closely monitoring prisoners and visitors

  • Employing objective criteria for prisoner transfers

  • Adhering to regulations for guarding inmates

  • Making exceptions to inmate movement when required

  • Conducting searches for contraband using methods such as facility searches, cell searches, on-site drug screening, and strip searches.

Counseling and Mental Health Services

Beyond maintaining security, correctional officers in Michigan have a key role in managing inmates’ mental health. They are responsible for upholding order and security within the prison, which includes:

  • Recognizing and addressing any mental health issues among the inmates

  • Receiving instruction on the psychological elements of upholding order

  • Being involved in the referral of inmates to suitable mental health services

Correctional officers in Michigan offer a range of counseling services to inmates, such as:

  • Supportive counseling

  • Brief therapy

  • Solution-focused therapy

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy

  • Dialectical behavior therapy

These services work to address behavioral issues and provide support for rehabilitation, helping inmates transition back into society as productive individuals.

Employment Opportunities for Correctional Officers in Michigan

Correctional officers in Michigan can find employment opportunities in both state-run and federal institutions. Depending on your qualifications, experience, and preferences, you can choose to work for the Michigan Department of Corrections, a county jail, or a federal institution.

State-Run Facilities

State-run facilities include prisons and jails operated by the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). These correctional facilities are spread throughout the state and offer various job opportunities for qualified correctional officers. Working for the MDOC enables you to significantly impact inmates’ lives and contribute to public safety.

Some state-run facilities in Michigan that provide employment opportunities for correctional officers are the Carson City & Ionia area correctional facilities. Additionally, the Kent County Correctional Facility, a facility that holds both men and women, employs approximately 210 correctional officers to maintain order, discipline, and security within the facility.

Federal Institutions

Federal institutions in Michigan include the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan and the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility. These facilities are managed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and offer job opportunities for correctional officers with specific qualifications, such as a minimum of two years of full-time corrections officer experience in another local, state, federal, or private correctional institution.

Working for a federal institution can provide a unique set of challenges and rewards. Federal correctional officers often work with a diverse population of inmates, including individuals convicted of federal crimes that may differ from those in state-run facilities. By working in a federal institution, you can gain valuable experience and broaden your career prospects in the field of corrections.

Salary and Benefits for Michigan Correctional Officers

Factors like location, experience, education, and facility type affect the salary and benefits for Michigan correctional officers. On average, a correctional officer in Michigan earns approximately $39,914 per year, with some cities and counties offering higher salaries.

Average Salary and Range

The average salary for correctional officers in Michigan ranges from $22.53 to $55,500 per year. This salary range is slightly higher than the national average for correctional officers, which is $47,920 per annum. Cities or counties in Michigan that offer the most lucrative salaries for correctional officers include:

  • Grand Rapids

  • South Lyon

  • Ann Arbor

  • Jackson

  • Ypsilanti

  • Adrian

  • Oakland County

Bear in mind that the above salary figures are estimates and actual compensation can vary depending on factors like experience, education, and facility type. By gaining relevant experience and expanding your knowledge through continuing education, you can potentially increase your earning potential and advance your career in the field of corrections.

Benefits and Job Satisfaction

Besides competitive salary packages, Michigan correctional officers also enjoy benefits like:

  • Health insurance

  • Dental insurance

  • Vision insurance

  • Life insurance

Furthermore, they may have access to a retirement plan similar to the one offered to other state employees.

The job satisfaction of a correctional officer in Michigan goes beyond the salary and benefits. By working as a correctional officer, you have the opportunity to:

  • Make a positive impact on the lives of inmates

  • Contribute to public safety

  • Have career growth opportunities, such as becoming a probation officer or correctional treatment specialist

These opportunities for full time work are available to those who are dedicated to their profession and continue their education and training.

Tips for Landing a Correctional Officer Job in Michigan

Landing a job as a correctional officer in Michigan is a competitive endeavor. Networking, job search strategies, and proper interview preparation are essential to increase your chances of landing your dream job in this field.

Networking and Job Search Strategies

Networking is one of the most effective strategies to discover job opportunities as a correctional officer in Michigan. Here are some ways to network and find job openings:

  • Connect with professionals in the field

  • Attend job fairs

  • Utilize online resources such as the Michigan Department of Corrections Careers, Government Jobs, and CareerOneStop websites

These methods can help you make valuable connections and find job openings in various companies.

Along with networking, maintaining organization and diligence in your job search is important. Here are some tips to help you stay organized and proactive:

  • Keep track of the positions you’ve applied to

  • Follow up with potential employers

  • Continually update your resume and cover letter to showcase your relevant skills and experience

  • Take every opportunity to learn about the corrections field and the specific facilities you’re interested in working for

By following these tips, you can increase your chances of finding a job in the corrections field.

Interview Preparation and Tips

To prepare for a correctional officer interview in Michigan, research the specific facility, practice common interview questions, and highlight your relevant skills and experience. Familiarize yourself with the Michigan Department of Corrections policies and procedures, as well as the rules and regulations of the specific facility you’re applying to.

During the interview, emphasize your communication skills and your ability to de-escalate dangerous situations. Show that you can maintain composure and make rational decisions under pressure. Be prepared to answer scenario-based questions using the Situation, Task, Action, and Result (STAR) method to provide a structured and thoughtful response.

By preparing in advance and presenting yourself professionally, you increase your chances of successfully landing a correctional officer job in Michigan.


Becoming a correctional officer in Michigan is a rewarding career with opportunities for personal and professional growth. By meeting the necessary education, experience, and training requirements, you can embark on a fulfilling career path that contributes to public safety and the rehabilitation of inmates. With competitive salaries, benefits, and opportunities for advancement, a career as a correctional officer in Michigan offers a unique and gratifying experience. With the right preparation and determination, you can successfully secure your dream job as a correctional officer in the Great Lake State.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is Corrections Academy in Michigan?

The Corrections Academy in Michigan is a 160-hour program, usually completed over the course of four weeks.

What is the physical test for correctional officers in Michigan?

Michigan’s correctional officers must pass a physical fitness test given by the Department of Corrections, which includes completing 13 sit-ups in 30 seconds, 17 push-ups in 60 seconds, and continuously walking up and down 11 34” steps for 6 minutes.

Do Michigan correctional officers carry guns?

Michigan correctional officers are trained in the use of force and are authorized in writing to carry a concealed pistol during the performance of their duties, which they have been doing since 1988.

What is the best degree for a correctional officer?

For those looking to become a correctional officer, completing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, psychology, sociology, counseling or another area of behavioral science is the best option.

What is the minimum education requirement for becoming a correctional officer in Michigan?

To become a correctional officer in Michigan, you must possess a high school diploma or GED certificate.

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