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

Are you considering a rewarding career in the field of corrections? Becoming a correctional officer in West Virginia is an exciting opportunity to make a difference in your community while ensuring safety and security within the state’s correctional facilities. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn how to become a correctional officer in West Virginia, including the qualifications, training, and benefits that come with this essential role. Get ready to embark on a fulfilling journey in the world of corrections.

What you’re about to learn in this guide:

  • Meet educational, age and physical fitness requirements to become a correctional officer in West Virginia

  • Submit an online application through the State Division of Personnel department. Attend hiring events for information and assessment tests

  • Adhere to ethical standards, commit to lifelong learning & build relationships within corrections community for career growth

Requirements and Qualifications for Correctional Officers in West Virginia

Before you set foot in the role of a correctional officer, it’s important to comprehend the qualifications and requirements needed for success in this profession. The state of West Virginia has specific criteria for those seeking correctional officer jobs, such as educational background, age, and physical fitness.

We will examine these requirements in a more detailed manner to assist you in deciding if this career path is the right fit for you.

Education and Age Requirements

To become a correctional officer in West Virginia, a standard high school diploma or equivalent is the minimum requirement. This ensures that potential officers have a solid foundation to build upon as they enter the field of corrections. However, pursuing further education, such as an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in corrections, can be beneficial for career advancement and growth.

In terms of age, aspiring correctional officers must be at least 18 years old to be considered for a position in West Virginia. This age requirement ensures that candidates have the maturity and life experience necessary to handle the challenges and responsibilities that come with working in a correctional facility.

Background Check and Agency Investigation

Those aspiring to a career as a correctional officer in West Virginia need to have a clean background. Prospective officers will undergo a comprehensive background check, which includes:

  • A review of criminal history

  • A review of credit record

  • A review of driving records

  • Fingerprinting

  • Checks of state and federal criminal databases

These checks are conducted to ensure that candidates have no disqualifying criminal convictions.

Besides the background check, prospective correctional officers will undergo an agency investigation. This process is conducted to ascertain the applicant’s character and suitability for employment. By thoroughly vetting candidates, the West Virginia Division of Corrections can maintain a high standard of professionalism and integrity within its workforce.

Physical Fitness and Medical Examination

Physical fitness is a critical component of a correctional officer’s job, as it is necessary for maintaining security and responding to emergencies within a correctional facility. To ensure that candidates are physically prepared for the demands of the job, they must undergo a medical examination and meet specific physical fitness requirements outlined in the Correctional Officer Physical Agility Test document.

This process helps guarantee that officers can protect themselves, their colleagues, and the inmate population while maintaining order within the facility.

Applying for a Correctional Officer Position in West Virginia

Having clarified the qualifications needed to become a correctional officer in West Virginia, the next step is to talk about the application process. Applying for a correctional officer position involves several steps, including submitting an online application, visiting Workforce WV offices, and attending hiring events.

We will dissect each of these steps in the subsequent subsections, equipping you with the information needed to initiate your career in corrections.

Online Application Process

To apply for a correctional officer position in West Virginia, you must follow these steps:

  1. Submit an online application through the State Division of Personnel department.

  2. Create an account.

  3. Provide your valid driver’s license.

  4. Supply background information for the application process.

Please note that paper applications are not accepted without prior authorization, so it’s crucial to have access to an internet-connected computer to apply.

If you don’t have a computer at home, don’t worry! Public access computers are available at various Workforce WV Offices, Correctional Centers, and select public libraries throughout the state. These resources can help you complete your application and take the first step towards a rewarding career as a correctional officer in West Virginia.

Workforce WV Offices and Hiring Events

Workforce WV offices significantly contribute to the correctional officer application process by offering resources and support for applicants. In addition to offering public access computers for completing online applications, these offices may also host hiring events where you can:

  • Learn more about available positions

  • Network with professionals in the field

  • Register for the assessment test required for a correctional officer job in West Virginia

Attending hiring events can be a valuable opportunity to gain insight into the corrections field, ask questions, and make connections with potential employers and colleagues. Be sure to check for upcoming events at your local Workforce WV office or on the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation website to stay informed about opportunities in your area.

Critical Vacancy Pay Facilities

In West Virginia, some correctional facilities face significant staffing shortages and are classified as “critical vacancy pay” facilities. These facilities offer higher wages or incentives to recruit and retain correctional officers. For example, the critical vacancy pay rate for officers in certain facilities is $45,000 upon hire and $47,500 after six months of service.

If you’re considering a career as a correctional officer in West Virginia, it’s worth exploring opportunities at critical vacancy pay facilities to maximize your earning potential.

West Virginia Corrections Academy: Training and Certification

Once hired as a correctional officer in West Virginia, your next step will be to attend the West Virginia Corrections Academy for training and certification. This intensive program is designed to equip you with the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in your new role, ensuring that you’re prepared to handle the responsibilities and challenges of working in a correctional facility.

We will touch upon the different facets of the training academy in this section, which include the residential program, physical performance test, and requirements for graduation.

Six-Week Residential Academy

The West Virginia Corrections Academy is a six-week residential program, providing comprehensive training for newly hired correctional officers. During this time, you’ll reside on-site and participate in a variety of training activities, including:

  • Classroom instruction

  • Physical fitness training

  • Firearms training

  • Practical exercises

  • Simulations

Trainees attending the Six-Week Residential Academy are provided with accommodations, including food, lodging, and training materials. The state may cover the cost of these accommodations, allowing you to focus on your training without financial concerns. Successfully completing this academy is a crucial step in your journey to becoming a certified correctional officer in West Virginia.

Physical Performance Test and Agility Test

As part of your training at the West Virginia Corrections Academy, you’ll be required to complete a physical performance test and agility test. These tests are designed to ensure that you’re physically prepared for the demands of your new role as a correctional officer.

While the specific components of these tests may not be readily available, it’s essential to maintain a high level of physical fitness and participate in regular exercise to prepare for these assessments.

Graduation and Certification

Upon successful completion of the West Virginia Corrections Academy, you’ll graduate and obtain certification as a correctional officer in the state. To achieve this, you must meet specific requirements, including completing specialized training as assigned, meeting training, licensing, certification, or experience requirements, and passing a written test and a physical agility test.

With your certification in hand, you’ll be ready to embark on a rewarding and fulfilling career as a correctional officer in West Virginia.

Correctional Officer Salary and Benefits in West Virginia

Besides the personal satisfaction derived from serving the community and ensuring public safety, correctional officers in West Virginia benefit from a competitive remuneration and benefits package. This section will cover the topics of:

  • Starting salary

  • Opportunities for overtime

  • Health insurance

  • Retirement benefits

These are the benefits that you can anticipate as a correctional officer in the state.

Starting Salary and Overtime Opportunities

The current annual starting salary for a correctional officer in West Virginia stands at $28,664. Although this may seem modest compared to other states, recent pay raises are projected to increase the starting salary to $40,000 per annum. This competitive salary, combined with the cost of living in West Virginia, makes a career as a correctional officer an attractive option for those seeking a stable income.

In addition to a competitive salary, correctional officers in West Virginia have the opportunity to work overtime, as needed. This can significantly increase your earning potential and help offset any financial concerns you may have. The Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation in West Virginia has allocated over $22 million for overtime for correctional officers in the past fiscal year, demonstrating the state’s commitment to adequately compensating its workforce.

Health Insurance and Retirement Benefits

As a correctional officer in West Virginia, you’ll be provided with health insurance benefits through the Mountaineer Flexible Benefits program. This program offers tax-free deductions for:

  • Dental insurance

  • Vision insurance

  • Disability insurance

  • Medical expenses that are not covered by other insurance plans

Having access to comprehensive health insurance coverage can provide peace of mind and financial security for you and your family.

In addition to health insurance, correctional officers in West Virginia are eligible for retirement benefits through the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). Regular retirement benefits are paid in equal monthly installments according to the member’s years of credited service. These benefits can provide financial stability and peace of mind as you transition into retirement, knowing that your years of dedicated service are recognized and rewarded.

Career Advancement and Growth

The West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation offers a variety of opportunities for career advancement for correctional officers in the state. These opportunities include gaining experience, completing additional training, and taking on leadership roles within the department.

By pursuing continued education and professional development, you can enhance your skills and competencies, positioning yourself for promotions and new opportunities within the corrections field.

Overview of West Virginia Correctional Facilities

West Virginia hosts a range of diverse correctional facilities, each presenting its own unique challenges and opportunities. Understanding the different types of facilities in the state can help you determine which setting is the best fit for your skills, interests, and career goals.

We will present a brief overview of regional jails and centers, including eastern regional jail, adult correctional centers, juvenile centers in West Virginia, and the northern regional center in the following subsections.

Regional Jails

Regional jails in West Virginia, such as the western regional jail, accommodate both male and female inmates, as well as federal and state responsible inmates and contract inmates from other localities. These facilities vary in size and capacity, with some designed to accommodate 300 inmates while others have a rated capacity of 605 inmates. It’s important to note that West Virginia’s jails have been over capacity in recent years, posing challenges for staff and inmate populations alike.

Ensuring safety and security within facilities like the north central regional jail, northern regional jail, and south central regional jail is vital, as these regional jails often house individuals serving short sentences or awaiting trial. As a correctional officer in a regional jail, you’ll be responsible for maintaining order, enforcing rules and regulations, and supervising inmates in a variety of settings. This critical role helps ensure the safety and well-being of inmates, staff, and the community at large.

Adult Correctional Centers

Adult correctional centers in West Virginia, such as Martinsburg Correctional Center, Northern Correctional Facility, Ohio County Correctional Center, and Salem Correctional Center, house individuals who have been sentenced to serve time in a state prison. These facilities, including the Ohio County Correctional Complex, typically have higher security levels than regional jails like Potomac Highlands Regional Jail, reflecting the nature of the inmate population and the longer sentences being served.

As a correctional officer in an adult correctional center, you’ll be responsible for maintaining order and security while also facilitating programs and services aimed at rehabilitating and reintegrating inmates back into society.

Juvenile Centers

Juvenile centers in West Virginia focus on the unique needs of young offenders. These facilities provide a range of programs and services designed to address the particular challenges faced by this population, including educational opportunities, counseling, and substance abuse treatment programs.

As a correctional officer in a juvenile center, you’ll play a vital role in helping young people develop the skills and attitudes necessary to become productive, law-abiding citizens.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Correctional Officer in West Virginia

A correctional officer’s role is multifarious, including a broad range of duties and responsibilities. From maintaining security to supervising inmate activities and responding to emergencies, correctional officers play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and well-being of those within the correctional facility.

This section will delve deeper into the diverse roles and responsibilities of correctional officers in West Virginia, offering you an exhaustive understanding of this vital profession.

Maintaining Security and Order

One of the primary responsibilities of a correctional officer is maintaining security and order within the correctional facility. This involves ensuring that inmates abide by the rules and regulations set forth by the facility, as well as preventing disturbances, assaults, and escapes. By maintaining a secure and controlled environment, correctional officers play a pivotal role in upholding public safety and protecting the welfare of staff and inmates.

To be effective in maintaining security and order, correctional officers must possess a combination of skills and traits, including strong observation abilities, sound judgment, and the ability to physically restrain violent offenders when necessary. Additionally, officers must be vigilant in monitoring inmate behavior and be prepared to intervene when necessary to maintain order and prevent harm.

Supervising Inmate Activities

In addition to maintaining security and order, correctional officers are responsible for:

  • Supervising the daily activities of inmates

  • Overseeing work assignments, recreational activities, and educational programs

  • Ensuring that inmates adhere to established schedules and guidelines

Supervising inmate activities is essential for maintaining a structured and orderly environment within the correctional facility, promoting inmate rehabilitation, and fostering a sense of accountability.

Effective supervision of inmate activities requires strong communication skills, empathy, and an understanding of the unique challenges faced by individuals in a correctional setting. Correctional officers must be able to establish rapport with inmates, provide guidance and support, and maintain professional boundaries to ensure the safety and well-being of all parties involved.

Responding to Emergencies and Unusual Situations

Correctional officers are trained to respond to a variety of emergencies and unusual situations that may arise within a correctional facility. These situations can include:

  • Medical emergencies

  • Disturbances or riots

  • Fires or other hazardous situations

  • Escapes or attempted escapes

In these instances, officers must be able to think quickly, assess the situation, and take appropriate action to protect the safety of staff, inmates, and the public.

Tips for Success as a Correctional Officer in West Virginia

The key to success as a correctional officer in West Virginia lies in a blend of education, training, and personal traits. In this section, we will provide some tips and guidance to assist you in excelling in your career and making a significant impact on the lives of those in the correctional system.

Professionalism and Ethical Conduct

Maintaining professionalism and ethical conduct is of paramount importance for correctional officers in West Virginia. This includes adhering to a code of ethics, upholding high moral standards, and treating all individuals with dignity and respect. By demonstrating professionalism and ethical conduct, correctional officers can cultivate trust and respect among colleagues, inmates, and the community at large, ultimately contributing to a more effective and just correctional system.

Continuing Education and Training

Continuing education and training are essential for career advancement and success as a correctional officer in West Virginia. Pursuing additional coursework, attending workshops, and participating in professional development programs can help you stay current with industry best practices and enhance your skills and knowledge.

By committing to lifelong learning and professional growth, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the challenges and opportunities that come with a career in corrections.

Networking and Building Relationships

Networking and building relationships within the corrections community can be instrumental in advancing your career and gaining access to valuable resources and opportunities. By connecting with professionals in your field and sharing insights and experiences, you can broaden your knowledge base, develop new skills, and foster collaboration with your peers.

Engaging in networking activities, such as attending conferences, joining professional organizations, and participating in online forums, can help you expand your professional network and ultimately enhance your career prospects.


In conclusion, becoming a correctional officer in West Virginia is a challenging yet rewarding career path that offers numerous opportunities for personal and professional growth. By understanding the qualifications, application process, training, and responsibilities associated with this essential role, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on a fulfilling journey in the field of corrections. With dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to professionalism and ethical conduct, you can make a meaningful impact on the lives of those within the correctional system and contribute to a safer, more just society for all.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does West Virginia Corrections pay?

The average Correctional Officer salary in West Virginia is around $45,000 per year, ranging from $39,000 to $55,438 depending on experience. Entry level positions start at $39,000 and special hiring rate is $45,000 upon hire and $47,500 after 6 months. There are also Critical Vacancy Pay Facilities with higher salaries for experienced workers.

What’s the most a correctional officer can make?

A Correctional Officer can earn a salary up to $103,000 per year, with the median annual salary falling between $44,348 and $55,274 in the United States. Hawaii has the highest correction officer salary of $59,246, while Arkansas has the lowest at $27,584.

How long is the Virginia correctional officer Academy?

The Basic Jail Officer Program at the Virginia Correctional Officer Academy is a 9 week course.

What do you need to be a probation officer in West Virginia?

To become a probation officer in West Virginia, you must possess a bachelor’s degree in a field such as social work, criminal justice, or psychology.

What is the minimum age requirement for aspiring correctional officers in West Virginia?

The minimum age requirement for aspiring correctional officers in West Virginia is 18 years old.

Scroll to Top