How to Become a Correctional Officer in Missouri (Steps and State Requirements)

Have you ever wondered how to become a correctional officer in Missouri? A career in corrections is both challenging and rewarding, with a diverse range of roles and responsibilities that directly impact society. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the steps to becoming a correctional officer in Missouri, from understanding the roles and responsibilities to navigating the application process and exploring career growth opportunities.

What you’re about to learn in this guide:

  • Become a Missouri Correctional Officer and help create safer communities by enforcing rules, providing training & conducting searches.

  • Meet eligibility criteria & gain an educational background in criminal justice for successful application process.

  • Enjoy competitive salaries, extensive health insurance & liberal retirement plans with opportunities for growth and advancement!

Missouri Correctional Officer: Roles and Responsibilities

In Missouri, a correctional officer’s primary duty involves:

  • Maintaining security and meticulously overseeing offenders within the criminal justice system

  • Supervising the activities of inmates

  • Ensuring compliance with rules

  • Patrolling and inspecting housing units and inmate cells

  • Conducting searches

  • Coordinating and monitoring daily activities of inmates within the prison system

Missouri correctional officers encourage responsible prisoner behavior through a mix of strategies, including:

  • Conduct rules

  • Corrective processes

  • Training

  • Utilization of the Adult Internal Management System (AIMS)

By employing these strategies to facilitate job training in their corrections jobs, corrections employees transform lives and maintain security, aiming to prevent criminal activity.

Another vital component of a correctional officer’s role is supporting offender rehabilitation, including those in St. Louis County. They supervise the movement of offenders, conduct counts, and search offenders, all of which contribute to the rehabilitation process.

Eligibility Criteria and Requirements

Certain requirements need to be fulfilled to embark on a career as a correctional officer in Missouri. These include being at least 18 years old, possessing a valid vehicle operator’s license, and undergoing annual training and firearms certification.

We shall delve into the minimum qualifications regarding education, experience, physical fitness, and skills necessary for a triumphant career in corrections.

Education and Experience

The minimum requirements to become a correctional officer in Missouri include:

  • Being at least 18 years of age

  • Possessing a valid vehicle operator’s license

  • Having a high school diploma or GED certificate

  • Having two years of work experience

Having a GED instead of a high school diploma is acceptable, as it meets the educational requirements for corrections employees.

Previous experience in corrections or law enforcement can give you an advantage when applying for a correctional officer position in Missouri. Criminal justice and related programs are also beneficial for working in the field of corrections, providing a solid foundation for this career.

Physical Fitness and Skills

A moderate to strenuous level of physical fitness is required to become a correctional officer in Missouri, as per the job description, which requires the strength, agility, and endurance to navigate obstacles and control inmates. To excel in this demanding role, aspiring officers must pass a physical fitness test and possess the strength to effectively handle physical attacks and exertion.

Strength training exercises, such as squats, lunges, push-ups, bench press, and planks, can help build functional strength and improve overall fitness, which is crucial for the physical demands of the job. In addition to physical fitness, developing defensive tactics and standard first aid/CPR training, as well as honing resilience, public safety, correctional facility, and emergency situation skills, can boost your chances of becoming an exemplary Missouri Correctional Officer.

Application and Hiring Process

The process of applying for a position as a correctional officer in the Missouri Department of Corrections is relatively straightforward; you can either file the application electronically or request a paper application. The department utilizes a merit-based hiring system, ensuring that the most qualified applicants are given the greatest consideration.

To apply, you will need a range of documents, including:

  • Conditional Offer Letter

  • Background Check Form

  • Missouri Applicant Fingerprint Form

  • W4-MO Form

  • W4-Fed Form

  • I-9 Form

  • Firm Offer Letter

The application and hiring process typically takes an average of 1 to 2 months.

Training and Certification

Upon recruitment, new corrections officers, also known as correctional officers or parole officers, are required to undergo a thorough 280-hour job training program before commencing active service. This includes exciting academic and practical training, firearms certification, and ongoing professional development.

The Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) is committed to providing firearms certification training to its new correctional officers. As a new officer, you can look forward to ongoing professional development, such as:

  • Developing critical leadership skills

  • Learning basic defensive skills for self-protection

  • Understanding job requirements and ethics of corrections

  • Becoming familiar with the laws governing the job

  • Understanding the laws of corrections

  • Staying up to date on new case law and legal standards affecting officers and inmates.

Career Growth and Advancement Opportunities

A variety of exciting career growth and advancement opportunities are available to correctional officers in Missouri, such as promotions, specialized units, and further education. The Missouri Department of Corrections actively encourages employees to take part in professional development throughout their careers, offering multiple chances for advancement.

Specialized units, such as mobile units designed to tackle staffing shortages within the state’s prisons, provide unique opportunities for correctional officers. Furthermore, colleges and universities in Missouri offer corrections and criminal justice degrees and training programs, often with tuition discounts, allowing officers to expand their knowledge and expertise while advancing their careers.

Benefits and Compensation

In Missouri, correctional officers receive attractive benefits and compensation packages, including competitive salaries, extensive health insurance, and liberal retirement plans. The potential annual salary range for qualified state correctional officers is $27,324 to $38,040, offering a competitive salary for a rewarding career.

Health insurance plans for correctional officers include major health insurance for employees and their families, generous paid life insurance equivalent to annual salary, and comprehensive long-term disability coverage. As for retirement plans, correctional officers can take advantage of the Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System (MOSERS) and the Corrections Officer Retirement Plan offered by the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS).

Working at Specific Facilities

Each correctional facility in Missouri offers its unique experiences and opportunities. For example, at St. Louis City Justice Center, you can look forward to maintaining the safety, custody, security, and control of inmates at all levels of security while supervising other correctional officers.

The Missouri State Penitentiary provides an exciting and rewarding experience, where you can:

  • Learn about the history and stories of the convicts who spent time there

  • Take advantage of professional development opportunities

  • Help educate the public by leading tours of the facility

At the Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center, you can experience different opportunities due to its unique location, size, and specific programs and services.

Supporting Safer Communities

Missouri correctional officers have a vital part in contributing to safer communities. They perform the following duties:

  • Vigilantly supervise and monitor offenders in correctional institutions, ensuring their safety and security

  • Collaborate with interdisciplinary teams to guide offenders in rehabilitative activities

  • Provide opportunities for personal growth

The Missouri Department of Corrections also initiates initiatives to extend higher education opportunities for offenders within the prison system, ultimately lowering recidivism rates.


In conclusion, a career as a correctional officer in Missouri is both challenging and rewarding, with a diverse range of roles and responsibilities that directly impact society. Following the steps outlined in this guide, from understanding eligibility criteria and requirements to navigating the application process and exploring career growth opportunities, you can embark on a fulfilling journey as a correctional officer in Missouri, contributing to safer communities and making a difference in the lives of offenders.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do federal correctional officers make in Missouri?

Federal Correctional Officers in Missouri make an average salary of $46,559, with a range between $37,900 and $51,100.

What’s the most a Correctional Officer can make?

Correctional Officers can earn up to $103,000 annually with the highest-paid state being Hawaii with an average salary of $59,246 per year. Make the most money in California, where the average salary rate is around $81,100. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii has the highest average pay with an average salary of $59,248 yearly.

Are correctional officers law enforcement in Missouri?

Yes, correctional officers in Missouri are indeed considered law enforcement as they are employed by the Missouri Department of Corrections, the state’s law enforcement agency.

What do you need to be a Correctional Officer in Missouri?

To be a correctional officer in Missouri, you must have a high school diploma and either two years of experience or 60 college credit hours. This exciting career offers an annual salary ranging from $27,324 to $38,040.

What types of educational opportunities can Missouri correctional officers provide to offenders?

Missouri correctional officers offer a range of educational opportunities for offenders, such as adult education, vocational training, GED programs, and higher education through partnerships with the state Department of Corrections. This encourages offenders to reach their full potential and lead successful lives outside of prison.

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