Prison guards, or corrections officers, maintain security, keep accountability of prisoners and prevent incidents such as disturbances, assaults and escapes from occurring in prisons, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A prison guard's salary varies based on several factors, including the state in which he works.
The City Town Info website breaks down the median salary for prison guards by state and the major cities within those states. In North Carolina, as of 2008, Greensboro has the highest median salary for prison guards at $37,160, followed by Charlotte at $32,910, Durham at $32,480, Wilmington at $32,020, Asheville at $30,400, and Hickory has the lowest median salary at $29,850.
The North Carolina Department of Corrections reports that, as of 2007, a corrections officer is hired at the trainee salary of $26,209, and after 12 months, his pay increases to $27,384.
North Carolina Versus Nationwide
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides nationwide salary information for prison guards. In the United States, the median annual wages of correctional officers and jailers is $38,380, as of May 2008. This is a higher median salary than that of guards in any major city in North Carolina. Federal prison guards earn a higher average salary per year at $50,830, while state and local government guards average in the same range as the nationwide average.
A high school diploma or equivalent is required for a job as a prison guard. The Federal Bureau of Prisons also requires those who do not have prior experience in the field to have at least a bachelor's degree; a minimum of three years of experience in counseling or supervising; or a combination of college education and counseling or supervising experience, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Bureau of Labor Statistic describes the training necessary for prison guards nationwide. Prison guards require extensive training as their job is relatively dangerous. In fact, correctional officers have one of the highest rates of on-the-job, nonfatal injury. The American Correctional Association and the American Jail Association set guidelines regarding where, when and how a correctional officer will be trained. In North Carolina, corrections officers undergo a four-week, 160-hour training program that teaches them "firearms, unarmed defense and other psycho-motor skills," according to the North Carolina Department of Correction. The training is supplemental to a prison guard's on-the-job training. The trainee has 12 months from the date of his employment to complete his training.