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

Have you ever considered how to become a correctional officer in Wisconsin? Embarking on a career in the world of corrections can be both rewarding and challenging. In this detailed guide, we will walk you through the entire process, from meeting essential requirements to navigating the application process, and finally, to enjoying a fulfilling career in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

What you’re about to learn in this guide:

  • Become a Wisconsin Correctional Officer and contribute to public safety with competitive salaries, benefits, and career advancement opportunities.

  • Meet age/education/experience requirements plus pass written test, fitness test & medical exam for consideration.

  • Training program provided along with probationary period & ongoing professional development. Roles available in different locations across the state including male & female institutions or community supervision positions.

Wisconsin Correctional Officer: An Overview

Becoming a correctional officer in Wisconsin requires a thorough application process, comprehensive training, and numerous advancement opportunities across different locations. The key details about becoming a correctional officer in Wisconsin are:

  • Thorough application process

  • Comprehensive training

  • Numerous advancement opportunities across different locations

  • Median salary of $42,800

  • Contribution to public safety in the state

  • Wisconsin Department of Corrections supervised 22,481 inmates in 2012.

Working as a correctional officer in Wisconsin offers several benefits such as:

  • Prospects for swift advancement

  • Retirement benefits

  • Health and life insurance

  • Paid vacation during the first year of employment

The Western Judicial District of Wisconsin encompasses Madison and several correctional institutions, which may house inmates with various convictions, including domestic violence convictions. The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department is looking for applicants to fill the role of Corrections Professional. This is a full-time position.

The Division of Adult Institutions (DAI) is responsible for the management of the correctional system in Wisconsin, ensuring that correctional officers maintain security within the institutions. To become a correctional officer in Wisconsin, you will need to meet specific requirements and successfully navigate the application process.

Essential Requirements for Wisconsin Correctional Officers

To be eligible for a federal correctional officer position in Milwaukee, applicants must not exceed the age of 37 (unless they possess prior federal civil service experience) and must meet the specified education/experience criteria. Those with felony convictions might be ineligible for the hiring process.

To be eligible for a State Corrections Officer position in Madison, Wisconsin, applicants must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older

  • Possess a high school diploma or GED

  • Successfully pass a background check

  • Have a valid driver’s license.

Applicants for correctional officer positions in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, must meet the employment standards set forth by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC), which may include skills such as report writing. Eligibility for a correctional officer position in Milwaukee requires a high school diploma or GED, a minimum age of 18, and successful completion of a medical exam and fitness test. Applicants may need to create an account on the DOC’s employment website to apply for the position.

Pursuing college-level courses is highly recommended for those seeking to become a correctional officer in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Advancement in the following subject areas is taken into account when considering both hiring and promotional evaluations. Enhancing qualifications for correctional officer positions in Eau Claire may involve taking college courses in relevant subjects. Additionally, those with a college education in specific fields may be given preferential consideration during promotion evaluations.

Navigating the Application Process

The application process for Wisconsin correctional officers comprises a written test, fitness test, and drug test/medical exam to verify candidates’ qualifications. Applications must be submitted through the Department of Corrections’ (DOC) employment website. This can easily be done online by accessing the relevant announcements. COs may specify desired locations for employment while participating in state-wide hiring initiatives. Such initiatives are often organized by correctional facilities to recruit new officers. Please be aware that it may take a few months to process the application. The training academy will only begin after this time..

The selection process begins with a written test. Initial correspondence about the written test will be through email, irrespective of any other contact method selected during the application submission. Once your account created, the commencement of the training academy may be approximately five to six months after an initial application is submitted.

Written Test

The written test for Wisconsin correctional officers includes the following topics:

  • Judgment and reading comprehension skills

  • General knowledge

  • Basic skills

  • Career-specific aptitude

  • Crowd control methods

  • Forged document familiarization

  • Math operations, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Sample questions from the written test may include topics such as:

  • Professional standards for correctional officers

  • Managing facility operations in a correctional setting

  • Basic skills required of a correctional officer

  • Career-specific aptitude necessary for this role

  • The value and benefit of written reports in a correctional facility

The format of the correctional officer pre-employment test and types of questions included in the test are essential to understand.

Appropriate preparation for the written test can include:

  • Taking practice tests

  • Reviewing study guides

  • Using flashcards

  • Utilizing online preparation resources or criminal justice colleges

The minimum passing score for the written test for Wisconsin correctional officers is 70 percent.

Fitness Test

Applicants must successfully pass a fitness exam that includes push-up, sit-up, and 1.5-mile run components. The specific standards for the push-ups, sit-ups, and 1.5-mile run in the Wisconsin correctional officer fitness test are as follows:

  • Sit-Up Test: 25 sit-ups in one minute

  • Push-Up Test: 15 “perfect protocol” push-ups

  • 1.5 Mile Run: Run 1.5 miles in a maximum time of 16 minutes and 57 seconds

Male and female applicants in Wisconsin’s correctional officer fitness test have different fitness standards. Age-adjusted fitness standards are in place for Wisconsin’s correctional officer fitness test.

Preparation for the fitness test can involve:

  • Creating a fitness plan

  • Focusing on exercises that target specific areas

  • Following a training program

  • Practicing the test components

  • Reviewing helpful advice

Drug Test and Medical Exam

Candidates must pass a drug test and medical exam to show they are physically and mentally competent to perform the duties of a correctional officer for consideration for the position. The Wisconsin correctional officer drug test includes the detection of alcohol, drugs, and their metabolites in urine. It is capable of detecting prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, illicit drugs, and some drug metabolites.

A qualified healthcare professional may review the DOC-3018 form as part of the medical exam for Wisconsin correctional officers. Additionally, orders may be obtained as necessary. For more specific information, it is recommended to refer to the official guidance documents from the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

Candidates for the medical exam must fulfill the physical standards established by the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Standards Board. This evaluation must be carried out by a licensed physician or surgeon to assess their physical fitness and guarantee that they are free from any physical, emotional, or mental conditions that may hinder their performance of duties as a correctional officer.

Comprehensive Training Program

New correctional officers in Wisconsin are required to attend a 6-week pre-service training program in Madison, which provides essential skills and knowledge for the job. The Madison Training Center in Madison, Wisconsin, serves as the location for correctional officer training in the state.

The training program for Wisconsin correctional officers is six weeks in duration. The program encompasses critical abilities and equips new officers with the necessary skills to become competent and capable.

Probationary Period and Ongoing Professional Development

New Wisconsin correctional officers undergo a probationary period that lasts one year. During this time, new officers receive support and professional development through training programs. The Wisconsin Department of Corrections has established training standards to ensure new officers are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge for their role.

Probationary correctional officers may receive:

  • Guidance and orientation from experienced correctional officers to assist them in acclimating to the department and meeting its standards

  • Evaluation of their performance, identification of areas of improvement or strengths, and assessment of their aptitude for the role

  • Continual assessment and instruction throughout the one-year probationary period

The probationary period is intended to ensure that new correctional officers are able to successfully fulfill their duties and responsibilities.

Upon completion of the training program, correctional officers will be expected to perform supervised tasks during the one week in their home institution. The commencement of the training academy may be approximately five to six months after an initial application is submitted.

Salary and Benefits for Wisconsin Correctional Officers

Wisconsin correctional officers receive competitive pay, with the top salaries in Kenosha and Lake County ranging from $57,180 to $74,710 per year. The initial hourly rate for a Wisconsin correctional officer is $14.894, while the hourly rate for correctional sergeants in Wisconsin is $15.639.

Kenosha County and Lake County offer the highest salaries for correctional officers. In addition to their salaries, Wisconsin correctional officers are eligible for a range of benefits, including a competitive pay schedule and:

  • Retirement plans

  • Leave time

  • Insurance

  • Clothing allowances

  • Deferred compensation

  • Dental coverage

  • Educational benefits

Opportunities for Career Advancement

Career advancement opportunities for correctional officers in Wisconsin come through promotions, specialized roles, and continuing education. Unfortunately, specific information regarding promotion procedures for Wisconsin correctional officers is not readily available; we suggest contacting the Wisconsin Department of Corrections directly to obtain further details.

Advancement opportunities for correctional officers in Wisconsin include the positions of Sergeant, Corrections Professional, Procurement Specialist Senior, and Assistant Health Services Manager (Nursing Supervisor). There are higher education programs and certifications that may aid in career advancement for correctional officers in Wisconsin, including the Basic Corrections Academy, Corrections Specialist certificate, Jail Officer Certificate, and Wisconsin Jail Officer certification.

Working in Different Locations across Wisconsin

Wisconsin provides a variety of correctional officer positions in different locations, offering a spectrum of experiences and growth opportunities. The primary correctional institutions in Wisconsin are:

  • Columbia Correctional Institution

  • Dodge Correctional Institution

  • Fox Lake Correctional Institution

  • Green Bay Correctional Institution

To become a correctional officer in various locations throughout Wisconsin, applicants must fulfill the minimum employment requirements, such as being a US citizen, being at least 18 years old, and possessing a high school diploma or GED.

The Department offers roles in:

  • Minimum security institutions for adult males and females

  • Medium security institutions for adult males and females

  • Maximum security institutions for adult males and females

The Department may also provide supplementary training. Additionally, correctional officers must have the capacity to work the necessary hours, which can include mandatory overtime.

Male and Female Institutions

Male and female institutions are Wisconsin correctional facilities that solely house inmates of the respective genders. The challenges and duties of a correctional officer in a male institution in Wisconsin encompass:

  • Preserving security and order

  • Performing inmate counts

  • Thwarting escapes

  • Enforcing behavioral limits and adherence

  • Forming and sustaining relationships with inmates

Furthermore, corrections employees, specifically correctional officers, may confront challenges such as managing difficult inmate conduct and dealing with the strain of the job, which are important aspects to consider when exploring corrections officer jobs.

On the other hand, the particular challenges of a correctional officer in a female institution in Wisconsin may involve preserving order and enforcing regulations, managing high levels of stress, and confronting the difficulty of not bringing work home. Duties may include guaranteeing the safety and security of the institution, carrying out regular patrols, and overseeing inmates.

Community Supervision Positions

Beyond working in correctional facilities, officers can also seek roles in community supervision, supervising offenders on probation or parole. The role of a community supervision officer in Wisconsin is to supervise offenders serving sentences outside of prison and ensure compliance with the rules and conditions of their supervision.

Candidates for a community supervision officer role in Wisconsin must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a college degree and relevant training

  • Be a US citizen

  • Be below 37 years at the time of application

  • Hold a high school diploma or a GED equivalent

While experience is not mandatory, certification with the State of Wisconsin is preferred. Community supervision officers in Wisconsin must also complete a minimum of 120 hours of preparatory training.

The average annual salary for a community supervision officer in Wisconsin is $58,503. This role offers an alternative career path for those interested in working with offenders but outside of the traditional correctional facility setting.


In conclusion, becoming a correctional officer in Wisconsin offers numerous opportunities for personal and professional growth. By meeting the essential requirements, navigating the application process, and completing comprehensive training, you can embark on a rewarding career in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. With diverse positions available in various locations, including male and female institutions and community supervision roles, the path to a fulfilling career as a correctional officer in Wisconsin is within your reach.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is correctional officer training in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin correctional officer training consists of a 160 hour program that covers the philosophical and tactical principles necessary for the job. The course culminates in a skills assessment examination to verify competency.

What are the benefits of being a correctional officer in Wisconsin?

Being a correctional officer in Wisconsin offers numerous benefits, including rapid promotion opportunities, comprehensive health and life insurance, a retirement package, paid vacations in the first year, dental and vision coverage, income continuation, and employee reimbursement account programs.

What is the best degree for a correctional officer?

A Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, Psychology, Sociology, Counseling or a related field of Behavioral Science is the best degree for a Correctional Officer, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What should I say in a correctional officer interview?

I’m a hard worker and have an ability to remain calm in difficult situations. I’m reliable, always on-time and open to learning new things that would benefit the correctional officer team.

What is the median salary for a Wisconsin correctional officer?

The median salary for a Wisconsin correctional officer is $42,800, providing an ample income to support those in the profession.

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