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

Are you considering a career as a Correctional Officer in Texas? It’s an honorable profession with ample opportunities for growth and advancement. In this comprehensive guide on how to become a correctional officer in Texas, we will walk you through the requirements, training process, and career paths available in the Lone Star State for aspiring Correctional Officers. Let’s dive in and discover what it takes to embark on this rewarding career.

What you’re about to learn in this guide:

  • Become a Correctional Officer in Texas by satisfying educational, experience, physical fitness and legal background requirements.

  • Gain specialized training from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Training Academy and on-the-job instruction.

  • Research city specific requirements for salary range & employment opportunities to pursue desired goals.

Requirements for Becoming a Correctional Officer in Texas

Embarking on a career as a Correctional Officer in Texas requires meeting specific prerequisites. These qualifications ensure that candidates possess the necessary:

  • Education

  • Experience

  • Physical fitness

  • Legal background

Meeting these requirements is the initial step in your journey toward earning a bachelor’s degree and pursuing a fulfilling career in the field of criminal justice.

Education and Experience

A high school diploma or GED is the basic educational requirement for becoming a TDCJ correctional officer in Texas. Additionally, applicants with prior government correctional custody or law enforcement experience within the 36-month period preceding the date of hire may be eligible for a higher pay level, provided that their former employers verify their dates of employment and they left their previous positions in good standing.

Veterans who have completed at least two years active military service and have been discharged under honorable conditions are eligible to become a Correctional Officer IV. Applicants who have earned an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from an accredited college can also begin their role with 13-24 months of service.

Physical Fitness and Health

Working as a Correctional Officer in Texas necessitates a certain level of physical fitness. To qualify, recruits must pass the TDCJ Physical Agility Test, which includes tasks such as:

  • Running

  • Donning and removing an air pack

  • Running a hallway simulation

  • Dragging a dummy

Furthermore, recruits must accumulate 75 points in performing six different physical tasks.

Beyond physical fitness, maintaining good health is an important prerequisite. Applicants must possess the following qualifications:

  • High school diploma or equivalent

  • At least 18 years of age (some states require 21)

  • United States citizen or possess authorization to work in the US

  • No criminal history

  • Acceptable driving record.

Specific legal requirements are a must for becoming a Correctional Officer in Texas. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and have proper documentation. Additionally, they should not have a serious criminal history. To ensure the safety and security of the facilities and the inmates, background checks and drug screenings are part of the hiring process for correctional officers in Texas.

Fulfilling these legal requirements shows your dedication to law enforcement and ensuring a secure correctional environment.

Training and Certification Process

Upon meeting the required prerequisites, you can then proceed to the training and certification process for Correctional Officers in Texas. This process involves attending the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Training Academy and undergoing on-the-job training.

Completing the training and certification process equips you with the knowledge and skills to excel as a Correctional Officer.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice Training Academy

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Training Academy plays a crucial role in the training process for aspiring Correctional Officers in Texas. The curriculum includes a 720-hour Basic Peace Officer course, and the program has an approximate duration of 19 weeks. The Training Academy has several locations across Texas, such as Western Texas College in Snyder.

The Academy imparts a variety of skills, including leadership development, vocational skills, correctional work, and law enforcement training.

On-the-Job Training

In addition to the formal training provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Training Academy, on-the-job training is a critical aspect of preparing for a career as a Correctional Officer in Texas. New officers receive an extensive onboarding process during their first year of employment. This includes 160 hours of orientation and basic training, followed by 40 hours of on-the-job training. This hands-on training emphasizes the development of skills such as decisiveness, interpersonal communication, self-defense, knowledge of institutional policies and regulations, and contraband control.

Participation in on-the-job training equips you with valuable experience and practical skills, enhancing your effectiveness as a Correctional Officer in Texas.

Certifications and Continuing Education

To maintain your eligibility as a Correctional Officer in Texas, you’ll need to acquire relevant certifications and participate in continuing education opportunities. In Texas, Correctional Officers must possess the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) Basic Jailer License and the Certified County Corrections Officer (CCO) certification. Additionally, specialized training courses and professional development opportunities are available for those looking to enhance their skills and knowledge in the field.

Maintaining up-to-date certifications and continuing education helps you stay a valuable asset to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the communities you serve.

Career Path and Advancement Opportunities

As a Correctional Officer in Texas, you have the opportunity to advance your career through various ranks, promotions, specialized units, and roles. Your career path will largely depend on your performance, experience, and commitment to ongoing professional development. Understanding the available career path and advancement opportunities enables you to set meaningful goals and work towards a fulfilling career in criminal justice.

Correctional Officer Ranks and Promotions

The Texas correctional officer career path includes the following ranks:

  • Correctional Officer I

  • Correctional Officer II

  • Correctional Officer III

  • Correctional Officer IV

  • Lieutenant

  • Captain

Promotion opportunities are based on factors such as experience, performance evaluations, completion of required training, and passing promotional exams.

Regular promotions within the career path are available, accompanied by salary increases based on years of service. Excellence and a positive attitude increase your chances of climbing the ranks within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Specialized Units and Roles

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has several specialized units and roles, including the Special Operations Group in the Ranger Division, the Criminal Investigations Division, and the Law Enforcement Command. These units and roles are responsible for managing specialized functions such as investigations, crime analysis, and patrol.

Pursuing specialized roles and units allows you to broaden your skill set and uniquely contribute to the safety and security of the correctional facilities.

Benefits and Incentives

Working as a Correctional Officer in Texas comes with numerous benefits and incentives, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and bonuses for working in high-security facilities. These incentives help to ensure that Correctional Officers are fairly compensated for their valuable work while providing the necessary resources for a secure future.

Understanding the available benefits and incentives helps you make informed decisions about your career path and plan for long-term success in criminal justice.

Job Search Strategies and Resources

Finding a job as a Correctional Officer in Texas is no small feat, but with the right job search strategies and resources, you can increase your chances of success. In this section, we’ll explore online job boards, networking, and recruitment events to help you land the perfect role in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Online Job Boards and Websites

Several online job boards and websites can help you find Correctional Officer positions in Texas. The leading online job boards for Correctional Officer positions in Texas are:

  • Indeed

  • Betterteam

  • ZipRecruiter

  • Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) website

Utilizing these online resources keeps you informed about job openings and facilitates easy application for positions in your area.

Networking and Professional Associations

Networking is a crucial aspect of finding a job as a Correctional Officer in Texas. By joining professional associations such as:

  • Correctional Officers Association of Texas (COATX)

  • Texas Corrections Association (TCA)

  • Texas Jail Association (TJA)

  • Texas Probation Association

  • AFSCME Texas Corrections

You can connect with individuals who may have knowledge of job openings or offer referrals, especially when an applicant left employer and created a vacancy.

Networking can also provide invaluable insights into the industry and help you stay current with trends and developments, while learning from the expertise of experienced professionals.

Recruitment Events and Job Fairs

Recruitment events and job fairs are a valuable resource for aspiring Correctional Officers in Texas. These events provide an opportunity to meet with recruiters and learn more about the job. To find upcoming recruitment events, check the TDCJ website and other job search platforms.

Be prepared to showcase your experience and qualifications and make a lasting impression on potential employers.

Working as a Correctional Officer in Different Texas Cities

Working as a Correctional Officer is possible in several cities across Texas, such as:

  • Corpus Christi

  • Dallas

  • Houston

  • Odessa

However, each city may have its specific requirements, training programs, salary ranges, and employment opportunities. By understanding the unique aspects of working as a Correctional Officer in different Texas cities, you can make informed decisions about where to pursue your career.

City-Specific Requirements and Training Programs

Each city in Texas may have its specific requirements and training programs for Correctional Officers, such as Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. For example, in Houston, specialized training programs like:

  • CTSD (Correctional Training and Staff Development)

  • LET309

  • TEEX

  • HCC

A variety of correctional officer jobs, including full time correctional officers and part time correctional officers, are available for Correctional Officers seeking a correctional officer position.

Familiarizing yourself with the requirements and training programs specific to your chosen city prepares you better for a successful career.

Salary Ranges and Employment Opportunities

Salary ranges and employment opportunities for Correctional Officers in different Texas cities may vary based on factors such as experience, education, and location. For example, in Houston, the average correctional officer salary is $24.05 per hour or $50,678 annually, while in Austin, the average salary is $48,984 annually.

Understanding the salary ranges and employment opportunities in your chosen city aids in making informed career decisions and pursuing opportunities that align with your aspirations.


In conclusion, becoming a Correctional Officer in Texas is a challenging yet rewarding career path that offers ample opportunities for growth and advancement. By understanding the requirements, training process, career paths, and strategies for finding employment, you can embark on a fulfilling career in the field of criminal justice. Good luck on your journey, and may you find success as a Correctional Officer in the Lone Star State.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

It typically takes 200 hours of pre-employment training to become a correctional officer in Texas, with 80 hours for orientation and 120 hours of instruction in firearms, self-defense, and policies & procedures.

How much do corrections in Texas make?

The average correction officer salary in Texas is $42,952 per year or $20,65 per hour, with potential earnings up to $44,052/yr. Salary information comes from various sources, such as employee data and job postings, indicating an hourly rate of around $20.84.

What disqualifies you from being a correctional officer in Texas?

If you have any criminal charges pending, an outstanding warrant, or drug offenses on your record, you will be disqualified from becoming a correctional officer in Texas. Moreover, undocumented workers are not permitted to apply for the job. As such, it is important to ensure that your record is clean and you are able to pass the TDCJ drug test.

What do you need to be a corrections officer in Texas?

To become a corrections officer in Texas, you must be a U.S. citizen or immigrant with legal status authorized to work in the U.S., at least 18 years old, and possess a High School Diploma or state or military-issued General Education Development (GED) certificate. Security Coordinators may apply to become a Corrections Cadet once they turn 20 years of age and pass the physical readiness test.

What kind of training is required for Correctional Officers in Texas?

Corrections officers in Texas are required to attend the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Training Academy and complete on-the-job training, providing them with the tools needed to succeed in their roles.

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