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Correctional Officers

More than 11,000 correctional officers work in North Carolina prisons to supervise inmates, ensure a safe, secure and orderly prison operation and an effective response to emergency situations. Correctional officers maintain public safety in the face of daily hostility, risks and difficulties.

Correctional Officer job postings

Regional Employment Offices

CO Duties

CO Duties

Duties of Correctional Officers include: 

  • search offenders, visitors, cells and other areas for weapons and contraband
  • monitor and regulate offender and staff movement
  • maintain and record offender counts, cell assignments, and other relevant information
  • escort offenders within and outside the institution
  • use and maintain keys and other equipment 
  • supervise offender work details 
Job Requirements

Job Requirements

To become a Correctional Officer, candidates must:

  • Be at least 20 years of age and a citizen of the United States
  • Have their High School or General Educational Development (GED) diploma, or an equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Be eligible for certification by the NC Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission. Click HERE for specific certification requirements.
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • As part of the Criminal Justice Background investigation process, applicants with military experience must submit an unaltered copy of the DD-214, Report of Separation (long form) along with their application. Applicants seeking Veteran’s Preference must attach a DD-214.
  • Applicants in the National Guard must also submit Form NGB-23A.
  • Pass psychological testing as required by NC Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission.
  • Pass physical examination as required by NC Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission.
  • Pass drug screening as required by NC Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission.
  • Attend and successfully complete four weeks of Basic Correctional Officer Training (BCOT) at a Training Facility. Employees shall be scheduled for BCOT during their second week of employment.
  • Pass Correctional Officer Physical Abilities Test (COPAT): Click here for video. COPAT will be administered during Basic Training. Correctional Officers will have three attempts to pass within ten months of when they are hired.
Application Process

Application Process

Correctional Officer candidates go through a thorough application screening process

Due to the number of steps involved for applicant screenings, the entire process may take 60 to 90 days to complete.  The process could take even longer if: paperwork is not completed, or if appointments are missed or rescheduled, or if assessments are not completed on time.   

  1. All applications are immediately screened to verify the applicant:
    • Is at least 20 years old
    • Has a high school diploma or the equivalency of a HS diploma
    • Has a valid driver's license
    • Is a U.S. citizen
  2. A criminal background check and reference check are conducted. If the reviews are positive, NCDPS will schedule the applicant for an interview at one of the Regional Employment Offices.  In some cases, interviews will be held at a prison.
  3. If the interview goes well, the applicant will meet with a Prisons representative to discuss next steps in the hiring process. The selected candidate must complete online assessments and personal history statements either at the regional employment office or at home.  If selected to move forward in the hiring process, the applicant will meet with a Regional Employment Office (REO) representative for further testing and completion of required employment and criminal justice certification forms. During the REO appointment, the applicant may be required to provide documents such as: driver’s license, social security card, proof of high school diploma, photo ID, along with a few other documents.
  4. Following the REO appointment, the applicant is scheduled to meet with the agency's provider to have a medical examination, psychological evaluation, drug screening, and TB screening (as applicable).  
  5. If the applicant meets all agency and Criminal Justice Standards requirements, the applicant is contacted by a Prisons representative to establish a start date for employment, beginning with a week of orientation, followed by a four-week Basic Correctional Officer Training (BCOT) class.

New Correction Officers must complete an extensive eight-week training that includes: basic training academy, firearms instruction, self-defense, medical training, understanding inmate behavior, orientation and on-site hands-on training with an experienced correctional officer. Only after they complete all training,  are they allowed to work alone on a post.  

Training Schedule

  • Week 1 = New CO Orientation
  • Week 2-5 = New CO begins 4-week basic training class. The CO Physical Abilities Test is administered during Basic Training.
  • Week 6-8 = New CO trained on the job by a Correctional Field Training Officer.


Work Environment

Work Environment

Work Schedule
Employees must be able to work any shift including rotating, fixed shift or split shift.   All shifts may include days, nights, weekends, holidays, and mandatory overtime as required.  

Dress Code
DPS policy on personal grooming is enforced during Basic Training. Officers wear their duty uniform every day for class.

"No alcohol" policy. Cell phones, cameras, and/or recording devices are not allowed in any building, classroom, gymnasium, or firing range where training is being conducted. Failure to follow the dress code or rules of conduct could result in immediate separation from training, and disciplinary action, including dismissal. 



Training Schedule
New Correctional Officers are scheduled to attend a four-week Basic Correctional Officer Training class beginning the second week of employment. Officers should be prepared to stay overnight in a dormitory at the training academy during this four-week training period. Classes begin at 8 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. Trainees must be on time for all classes. There are no approved absences.

Trainees must successfully complete the required 160 hours (4 weeks) to sit for the state exam. A score of 70% is required on the final exam to be certified by the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission.

A Correctional Officer Physical Abilities Test (COPAT) is be administered during Basic Training. Employees are allowed three attempts to pass COPAT within the first 10 months of employment. Correctional Officers must successfully complete COPAT as a condition of continued employment.

Trainees must report to the assigned training center/academy on a Sunday and must be in duty uniform. OSDT provides student handouts and notebook; however, students must provide their own pens/pencils and paper for note taking.