How to Become a Correctional Officer in New Jersey (The Ultimate Guide)

Have you ever considered the importance of correctional officers in maintaining safety and order within our society? As a vital component of the criminal justice system, correctional officers play a crucial role in supervising and rehabilitating incarcerated individuals. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a correctional officer and want to learn how to become a correctional officer in New Jersey, this guide will provide you with all the necessary information on requirements, training programs, application processes, salary, benefits, and career opportunities available.

What you’re about to learn in this guide:

  • Candidates for correctional officer positions in New Jersey must meet specific requirements, including a valid driver’s license and passing the Law Enforcement Aptitude Battery (LEE) written examination.

  • Training programs are available to equip new correctional officers with the necessary skills and knowledge.

  • Correctional officers in New Jersey receive competitive salaries, health & dental insurance benefits, paid time off & holidays as well as career advancement opportunities.

Requirements for Becoming a Correctional Officer in New Jersey

Before you pursue a career as a correctional officer in the Garden State, you need to comprehend the various requirements. These requirements ensure that only the most suitable candidates are entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining security and order in correctional facilities across New Jersey.

Minimum Age and Education

Aspiring correctional officers in New Jersey must meet the minimum age requirement of 18 years and hold a high school diploma or GED equivalent. While these are the basic requirements, pursuing higher education in criminal justice or a related field may improve your chances of obtaining a position in an adult county correctional facility and provide additional career opportunities.

Valid New Jersey Driver’s License

Having a valid New Jersey driver’s license is another requirement for aspiring correctional officers. Driving with a suspended license is a grave offense in the state, so you need to maintain a valid license to avoid possible penalties, fines, or imprisonment.

In case you are transferring from out-of-state, rest assured that you can transfer your out-of-state driver’s license to New Jersey.

Background Check and Criminal History

Background checks, criminal history reviews, and candidates employment history are all integral parts of the hiring process for correctional officers in New Jersey. A felony conviction may disqualify a candidate from being eligible. However, exceptions can be made for individuals with a criminal record who have completed the New Jersey PTC Basic Course for Police Officers or have their record expunged.

The background check process, which includes a criminal record check, employment history review, driving record evaluation, and credit check, generally takes a few weeks to complete.

Training Programs for New Jersey Correctional Officers

After meeting the requirements for becoming a New Jersey correctional officer, you must enroll in the required training programs. These programs are designed to equip you with the skills and knowledge required to excel in this challenging yet rewarding career.

New Jersey Police Training Commission

The New Jersey Police Training Commission is responsible for overseeing the training and certification of correctional officers in the state. The Commission offers a 14-week training program for prospective correctional officers at the Correctional Staff Training Academy. The program ensures that all trainees are well-prepared to meet the challenges of working within a correctional facility and adhere to the high standards set by the Commission.

Correctional Staff Training Academy

The Correctional Staff Training Academy provides a comprehensive 14-week live-in paid training program for new correctional officers, preparing them for their assigned correctional facility. The curriculum is designed to fulfill the stringent criteria set by the New Jersey Police Training Commission and encompasses a Basic Course for County Correction Officers, which consists of 13 modules.

The training program covers various essential skills, including interpersonal communication, correctional procedure, constitutional issues, criminal law, and firearms training.

Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy

For those interested in expanding their career opportunities, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy offers an alternative training option. To enroll in the federal training program, you must comply with the federal laws, requirements, and application process provided by the New Jersey Department of Corrections.

The training program for correctional officers in New Jersey is hosted at the Correctional Staff Training Academy, and more information can be found on the New Jersey Department of Corrections website.

Application Process for New Jersey Correctional Officer Positions

After fulfilling the requirements and finishing the training, you must undertake the application process for correctional officer positions in New Jersey. This process guarantees that only the most qualified individuals are chosen for these pivotal roles.

Written Examination

The initial step in the application process is to take the written examination. The Law Enforcement Aptitude Battery (LEE) is a standardized test that evaluates the knowledge and abilities required to become a correctional officer in New Jersey. The exam covers topics such as:

  • Basic Math

  • Memory

  • Reading Comprehension

  • Applying rules and information

  • Written Communication

A passing score of 70% is required to move forward in the process.

Personal Interviews

Personal interviews are conducted as part of the hiring process for correctional officers in New Jersey. During the interview, the hiring panel evaluates candidates on the following criteria:

  • Communication skills

  • Decision-making skills

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Emotional resilience

  • Physical fitness

  • Ethical conduct

  • Knowledge of correctional procedures and policies

  • Teamwork and collaboration

You should prepare well for the interview by:

  • Researching the New Jersey Department of Corrections

  • Studying common interview questions

  • Understanding job requirements

  • Rehearsing situational and behavioral questions.

Pre-Employment Processing

Pre-employment processing is the final step in the application process and includes a comprehensive medical examination and background checks. The medical examination consists of EKG, chest x-ray, hearing test, blood tests, vision test, and other tests. Background checks involve a computer background check, fingerprinting for a background investigation, and a comprehensive review of employment history.

The pre-employment processing typically takes approximately one year, including the training program and a one-year working test period.

Salary and Benefits for New Jersey Correctional Officers

Besides the satisfaction of serving your community and upholding public safety, New Jersey correctional officers receive competitive salaries and benefits.

Annual Salary

The annual salary for correctional officers in New Jersey ranges from $39,000 to $95,000. Here are some key factors that can influence an individual’s salary:

  • Certification level

  • Job type

  • Duration of employment

  • Location

  • Experience

  • Educational attainment

The starting salary for a correctional officer in the state is around $48,000, with the average salary reported to be around $72,611 annually.

Health and Dental Insurance

Health and dental insurance benefits are provided to correctional officers through the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP). Several health insurance plans are available, including:

  • Aetna/GEHA

  • Amerihealth

  • Brighton Health (Magnacare)

  • Centivo

  • Cigna/Oscar

  • First MCO (workers’ compensation)

  • Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield

  • Highmark

Dental insurance coverage is also provided through the SHBP, and vision insurance is available for correctional officers in New Jersey.

Paid Time Off and Holidays

Correctional officers in New Jersey enjoy paid time off and holidays as part of their compensation package. Some of the holidays typically observed by New Jersey correctional officers include Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Good Friday, and Memorial Day. Additionally, correctional officers accrue paid time off based on their years of service, with employees receiving paid vacation leave starting from their first full calendar year of employment and up to five years of service.

Career Opportunities for Correctional Officers in New Jersey

A career in corrections presents many opportunities for growth and progression. In New Jersey, correctional officers can progress to higher positions, such as Senior Correctional Police Officer, or pursue specialized roles within the field.

Senior Correctional Police Officer

Senior Correctional Police Officer positions offer increased responsibility and higher pay compared to entry-level roles. To be eligible for this position, one must meet the requirements for a correctional officer in New Jersey, complete the probationary period, and successfully complete the four-month working test.

The average yearly pay for a Senior Correctional Police Officer in New Jersey is around $84,000, with a salary range typically between $56,521 and $70,814.

Specialized Positions

Specialized positions within the corrections field provide opportunities for career growth and increased responsibilities. Some of these positions include:

  • Special Victims Unit

  • County Correctional Police Officer

  • Correctional Police Officer

  • Senior Officer Specialist

Depending on the position, additional training and certification may be required, and career progression is typically based on experience, seniority, and expertise in related duties.

Federal Bureau of Prisons

The Federal Bureau of Prisons offers additional career opportunities for correctional officers in New Jersey, providing an opportunity to work in the largest prison system in the country. To transition to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, candidates must apply for job openings and complete the required training at the assigned federal facility and the Federal Law Enforcement training.

Federal correctional officer positions come with a competitive salary range of between $48,823 and $60,851 annually.

New Jersey Correctional Facilities

New Jersey is home to various correctional facilities, including:

  • Federal Correctional Institution-Fort Dix, which is the largest prison in the Federal Bureau of Prisons system

  • Bayside State Prison

  • Southern State Correctional Facility

  • Essex County Correctional Facility

Each facility is responsible for maintaining safety and security within its walls.

These institutions play a significant role in promoting public safety, offering secure environments, detaining individuals awaiting trial, and safeguarding the safety and welfare of inmates, all while adhering to state and federal laws.


In conclusion, becoming a correctional officer in New Jersey is a rewarding path that offers competitive salaries, comprehensive benefits, and numerous opportunities for career growth. By meeting the requirements, completing the necessary training, and navigating the application process, you can embark on a fulfilling career dedicated to maintaining safety and order within the criminal justice system. Take the first step towards a career that makes a difference in the lives of others and your community.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements to be a Correctional Officer in NJ?

To be a Correctional Officer in New Jersey, applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, be at least 18 years old, be a U.S. citizen and hold a valid driver’s license for the state of New Jersey. They must also pass the NJ Civil Service LEAB test and meet other requirements like background investigation and panel interview.

How long is Corrections Academy in NJ?

The Corrections Academy in NJ requires a 14-week live-in paid training for Correction Officer Apprentices, which includes the 350 hour Basic Course for State Corrections Officers.

How much a Correctional Officer makes in NJ?

A Correctional Officer in New Jersey can expect to earn an average salary of $54,832 annually. Salaries for this role can range from $48,823 to $60,851.

What is the test for Correctional Officer in NJ?

The New Jersey Department of Corrections requires you to take the EB Jacobs Law Enforcement Aptitude Battery (LEAB) exam, which is also given as a police exam in various states across the United States.

What is the minimum age requirement to become a correctional officer in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, the minimum age to become a correctional officer is 18 years old.

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