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Top 10 Correctional Officer Certifications

This article provides an overview of the best certifications for correctional officers to pursue in order to advance their careers.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications are important for correctional officers in the job market because they demonstrate a certain level of knowledge and expertise related to the field. Certifications can show potential employers that an individual has undergone specialized training and has a commitment to the profession. Employers may also consider certifications when making hiring decisions, as they may be looking for people with specific skills and qualifications that can help them perform their duties effectively. Additionally, certifications may provide correctional officers with additional opportunities for career advancement or higher-level positions within their organization.

The purpose of this article is to review some of the top certifications for Correctional Officers and explain how they can help enhance a correctional officer's career.

What are Correctional Officer Certifications?

Correctional Officer Certification is a professional certification program created to provide correctional officers with the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to perform their duties in accordance with established policies and procedures. This certification is intended to help ensure that correctional officers are well-trained, competent and prepared for the challenges of working in an often dangerous environment.

The certification process consists of completing a series of classes, exams and other requirements. The courses cover topics such as security operations, communication skills, legal issues, offender management and mental health services. Upon successful completion of all requirements, the individual will be awarded a certificate from the certifying organization.

Having this certification can assist correctional officers in several ways. It can help them gain respect from supervisors and fellow officers by demonstrating that they have taken the time to learn important information related to their job. It can also make them more marketable when seeking promotions or transfers within their department or other departments. Additionally, having this certification may be required for certain jobs or assignments within a correctional institution. Finally, it may also qualify them for higher pay since employers often value certified employees more than those without formal credentials.

Pro Tip: Obtain a certification in correctional officer training to gain an edge over your competition. This will demonstrate your commitment to the profession and give you the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in the field. Additionally, many states require correctional officers to be certified, so having this credential may be essential for you to obtain a job.

Related: What does a Correctional Officer do?

Top 10 Correctional Officer Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Correctional Officers today.

1. National Institute of Corrections (NIC) Corrections Officer Core Certification

The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) Corrections Officer Core Certification is a voluntary certification program that provides correctional officers with the knowledge and skills needed to perform their duties in a professional manner. The program consists of three core modules: Professionalism, Leadership, and Management. Each module consists of online training, classroom instruction, and hands-on activities. Upon successful completion of all three modules, participants receive a certificate from NIC acknowledging their achievement.

The program typically takes between six to eight weeks to complete depending on the number of hours spent studying and completing assignments. To get started, individuals must apply for admission to the program by submitting an application along with the required fee. Once accepted into the program, participants will be assigned a mentor who will guide them through each module.

The cost for the NIC Corrections Officer Core Certification varies depending on where you live and how many modules you choose to take. Generally speaking, it can range from $400-$700 USD for all three modules or $150-$200 USD per module if you choose to take only one or two modules at a time.

2. American Correctional Association (ACA) Corrections Officer Certification

The American Correctional Association (ACA) Corrections Officer Certification is a voluntary certification program that provides an objective measure of professional knowledge, skills, and abilities for corrections officers. The certification is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated a high level of proficiency in the field of corrections.

To become certified, applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements and successfully pass a comprehensive written examination. Eligibility requirements include having at least two years of full-time experience as a corrections officer or equivalent position, and being currently employed in the field. Applicants must also demonstrate knowledge in areas such as criminal justice systems, correctional operations, security procedures, law enforcement techniques, and other related topics.

The ACA Corrections Officer Certification exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions covering all aspects of corrections work. The exam takes approximately three hours to complete and is administered at various testing centers throughout the United States. The cost of the exam is $150.00 USD plus any applicable taxes or fees.

Once an applicant has passed the exam they will receive their official ACA Corrections Officer Certification card within six to eight weeks from the date they took the test. This card serves as proof that they have met all requirements for certification and can be used to demonstrate their professional credentials when applying for jobs or promotions in the field of corrections.

3. National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) Certified Correctional Health Professional

The National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) Certified Correctional Health Professional (CCHP) credential is a voluntary certification program for professionals working in the field of correctional health care. It is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated knowledge and skills in correctional health care, as well as commitment to the highest standards of practice.

To become certified, applicants must meet the following criteria:

1. Have a minimum of two years of full-time experience in correctional health care;

2. Possess a current license or certification in their respective discipline;

3. Demonstrate knowledge and skills related to correctional health care through successful completion of an exam;

4. Agree to abide by NCCHC’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice; and

5. Provide evidence of continuing education credits in correctional health care within the past three years.

It typically takes six months or more to complete all requirements for CCHP certification. The process begins with submitting an application packet that includes documentation verifying eligibility criteria, such as proof of licensure, work experience, and continuing education credits. Once approved, applicants can register for the CCHP exam which consists of multiple-choice questions covering topics such as medical ethics, legal issues, patient rights, clinical practice guidelines, and disease management. After passing the exam with a score of at least 70%, applicants will receive their official CCHP certificate from NCCHC.

The cost for becoming certified depends on several factors such as whether you are an NCCHC member or not and which type of exam you take (paper/pencil or computer-based). Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $200-$600 USD depending on these factors.

4. American Jail Association (AJA) Certified Corrections Officer

The American Jail Association (AJA) Certified Corrections Officer (CCO) certification is a professional designation for corrections officers who have demonstrated excellence in the field of corrections. It is designed to recognize individuals for their commitment to professionalism, knowledge, and skill in the field of corrections.

In order to become certified, applicants must meet certain requirements. These include having at least one year of full-time experience as a corrections officer; completing an approved training program; and passing an AJA CCO certification exam. The exam covers topics such as security operations, inmate behavior management, legal issues, and other correctional topics.

The process of becoming certified typically takes several months to complete. Applicants must first complete the required training program and then register for the AJA CCO certification exam. After registering for the exam, applicants will receive study materials that they can use to prepare for the test. Once they have successfully passed the exam, they will be awarded their AJA CCO certification.

The cost of obtaining AJA CCO certification varies depending on where you take the training and examination. Generally speaking, it can range from $300-$500 USD depending on your location and other factors such as whether or not you need to purchase additional study materials or pay a fee for taking the exam online.

5. International Association of Correctional Training Personnel (IACTP) Certified Corrections Officer

The International Association of Correctional Training Personnel (IACTP) Certified Corrections Officer (CCO) is a professional certification for corrections officers. It is designed to recognize and promote the highest standards of knowledge, skills, and abilities in the field of corrections. The IACTP CCO certification is the only international credential that recognizes professional excellence in corrections.

The IACTP CCO certification program consists of two parts: a written exam and an oral interview. The written exam covers topics such as correctional policies and procedures, security operations, inmate management, offender rehabilitation, and legal issues. The oral interview focuses on the applicant’s experience in corrections and their ability to communicate effectively with inmates and staff.

To become certified as an IACTP CCO, applicants must first complete an approved training program or have at least three years of full-time experience working in a correctional setting. Applicants must then pass both the written exam and oral interview with a score of 70% or higher on each component.

The cost for the IACTP CCO certification program varies depending on where you take it; however, most programs range from $200 - $500 USD. The entire process typically takes several months to complete from start to finish.

6. American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) Certified Probation and Parole Officer

The American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) Certified Probation and Parole Officer (CPPO) credential is a voluntary certification program for probation and parole officers. It is designed to recognize the knowledge, skills, and abilities of those working in the field of community corrections. The CPPO designation is intended to demonstrate that an individual has achieved a level of professional excellence beyond entry-level competency.

To become a CPPO, applicants must meet certain requirements including having at least three years of full-time experience as a probation or parole officer, completing an approved training program, passing a written examination, and submitting letters of recommendation from two current or former supervisors. Applicants must also adhere to APPA’s Code of Ethics.

It typically takes 6-12 months to complete the process of becoming certified as a CPPO. This includes completing the required training program, studying for the written examination, submitting all necessary documents, and waiting for approval from APPA.

The cost associated with becoming a CPPO varies depending on the specific training program chosen by the applicant. In general, it costs between $500-$1,000 to become certified as a CPPO.

7. National Criminal Justice Training Center (NCJTC) Basic Corrections Academy

The National Criminal Justice Training Center (NCJTC) Basic Corrections Academy is a comprehensive training program designed to provide correctional officers with the knowledge and skills necessary for successful job performance. The academy is divided into two parts: a classroom-based curriculum and an on-the-job training component. The classroom portion of the academy consists of approximately 40 hours of instruction, covering topics such as interpersonal communication, legal issues, offender management, crisis intervention, and security procedures. The on-the-job training component provides hands-on experience in a variety of correctional settings.

The NCJTC Basic Corrections Academy typically takes six to eight weeks to complete. To enroll in the academy, applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements, including passing a background check and having at least one year of full-time work experience in the criminal justice field or related fields. Applicants must also pass an entrance exam prior to enrollment.

The cost of attending the NCJTC Basic Corrections Academy varies depending on the location and duration of the course. Generally speaking, tuition fees range from $2,000 to $4,000 for the entire program. Additional costs may include travel expenses and lodging if applicable.

8. National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) Corrections Officer Certification

The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) Corrections Officer Certification is a voluntary certification program that recognizes corrections officers who have achieved a high level of knowledge and proficiency in their profession. The certification is designed to promote professionalism and excellence among corrections officers.

To be eligible for the NOBLE Corrections Officer Certification, applicants must have at least two years of experience in the field, either as a sworn officer or an unsworn employee. Applicants must also complete an approved training program and pass an examination administered by NOBLE. The exam covers topics such as correctional law, ethics, communication skills, and security procedures.

The process of obtaining the NOBLE Corrections Officer Certification typically takes between six months to one year to complete. To get started, applicants must submit an application form along with all required documents including proof of experience and training completion certificates. Once the application has been approved, applicants will be assigned a date to take the exam. After passing the exam, applicants will receive their certification from NOBLE.

The cost of obtaining the NOBLE Corrections Officer Certification varies depending on the applicant’s location and other factors. Generally speaking, it costs around $150-$200 to apply for the certification and take the exam.

9. American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) Certified Forensic Science Technician

American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) Certified Forensic Science Technician is a certification program that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated proficiency in the field of forensic science. The ABC certification is designed to provide an objective measure of professional competence and knowledge in the areas of criminalistics, crime scene investigation, laboratory analysis, and evidence collection and preservation. This certification is available to both entry-level and experienced forensic scientists.

To become an ABC Certified Forensic Science Technician, applicants must meet certain educational requirements and pass an examination administered by the American Board of Criminalistics. Applicants must have either a bachelor’s degree in a related field or at least four years of professional experience in the forensic sciences. Additionally, applicants must submit a written application, pay a fee, and successfully complete an oral interview with members of the board.

The entire process typically takes between three to six months from start to finish. The cost for the application fee varies depending on whether you are applying as an entry-level or experienced candidate; however, it generally ranges from $200-$400 USD.

10. International Association for Identification (IAI) Crime Scene Investigator Certification

The International Association for Identification (IAI) Crime Scene Investigator Certification is a certification program designed to recognize and promote the professional development of crime scene investigators. The IAI Crime Scene Investigator Certification is a voluntary certification that is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated knowledge and proficiency in the field of crime scene investigation.

The IAI Crime Scene Investigator Certification requires applicants to complete a comprehensive written examination that covers topics such as evidence collection, crime scene photography, forensic science, and criminal justice. Applicants must also demonstrate proficiency in their respective area of expertise through an oral examination. The certification process typically takes between three and six months to complete.

To become certified, applicants must submit an application form along with proof of experience or education in the field of crime scene investigation. Once all requirements are met, applicants will be invited to take the written exam and then the oral exam. Upon successful completion of both exams, applicants will receive their IAI Crime Scene Investigator Certification.

The cost for the IAI Crime Scene Investigator Certification varies depending on whether or not you are a member of the IAI. Non-members pay $250 for the application fee plus $150 for each exam taken (written and oral). Members pay $200 for the application fee plus $125 for each exam taken (written and oral).

Do You Really Need a Correctional Officer Certificate?

Yes, a correctional officer certificate is essential for anyone looking to pursue a career in the criminal justice field. A certificate demonstrates that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to work as a correctional officer, which is an important role in protecting public safety. The certificate also serves as proof that you have completed the necessary training and courses required to be successful in this profession.

The primary responsibility of a correctional officer is to ensure the safety of inmates and staff within a prison or other correctional facility, while also providing guidance and rehabilitation to inmates. As such, it’s important that someone in this position has the appropriate knowledge and experience in order to do their job effectively. A certificate program can provide students with an overview of what they need to know about working as a correctional officer, including topics such as inmate rights and privileges, legal issues related to corrections, communication techniques, and crisis intervention strategies. Additionally, some programs may include hands-on training opportunities or internships at local jails or prisons so that students can gain real-world experience before entering into the profession.

In addition to providing knowledge about how to work as a correctional officer, having a certificate can also give applicants an edge when applying for jobs since many employers prefer applicants who have completed some kind of formal training program. Having this type of certification will show employers that you are serious about your career and committed to being successful in the field. It also shows employers that you understand the importance of professionalism when dealing with inmates and fellow staff members.

Overall, having a correctional officer certificate is essential for anyone wanting to pursue a career in this field. Not only does it demonstrate your commitment level but it also provides you with the necessary knowledge and skills needed for success in this job.

Related: Correctional Officer Resume Examples

FAQs About Correctional Officer Certifications

1. What is the minimum age to become a Certified Correctional Officer?

Answer: The minimum age to become a Certified Correctional Officer is 18 years old.

2. Are there any educational requirements for Certification?

Answer: Yes, applicants must have either a high school diploma or GED equivalent and must pass the written exam administered by their state's Department of Corrections.

3. How long does it take to obtain Certification?

Answer: The length of time required to obtain Certification can vary from state-to-state, but generally takes between six months and one year.

4. What type of training will I receive as a Certified Correctional Officer?

Answer: Training typically includes self-defense techniques, communication skills, crisis intervention, cultural diversity awareness, and legal issues related to corrections.

5. Is there an annual fee associated with maintaining Certification?

Answer: Yes, most states require that Certified Correctional Officers pay an annual fee in order to maintain their certification status.

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