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Corrections: Education and Training
By Terry Campbell, Professor, Purdue University Global
Published: 05/06/2013

Adult ed 2 You are employed in the corrections field and passed correctional training and Post Officer Standards and Training (POST) certification. Now your corrections journey begins with real-life situations. At the same time, you will be asking yourself a variety of questions after the first day on the job and maybe even second guessing yourself. "Am I prepared to perform the various duties associated with this position and do I really want to this?" Did I just take this job to earn some money and have no intentions of staying, or did I recognize the career and other opportunities within the corrections field, and decide "I can do this." You elected to enter a challenging field, yet one that can be rewarding in many ways. Sometime after you decide to continue with your corrections career, you will need to do a career assessment. This will include any future goals, upward mobility opportunities, personal reasons, and where do you want to be in 1-5 years, 5-7 years, 7-10 years, and etc. Most states require a minimum of a high school diploma and/or General Education Development (GED).

During your corrections journey, you are going to recognize the need and desire to obtain additional education and/or promotions. Along with this are additional job duties and responsibilities. You already know additional training will be required. But, are there any additional education requirements for the position? There certainly is a lot to consider when you are ready to take the next step and planning for your future. Career advancement may consist of the following;
  • Career Advancement/Promotions
  • Salary Increase
  • Additional Duties and Responsibilities
  • Role of a Mentor
  • Supervisor
  • Role Model
  • Retirement Considerations
  • Other

Yes, there are many other variables that can come into play. However I only selected a few of my favorites.

We already know training is on-going and required by statute. The officer is required to maintain a certain number of yearly training hours to maintain for certification. These hours will be established by Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) or by a Commission. (Note, this will vary again from state to state).

While attending required training some officers will develop additional areas of interest. Yet some officers will develop the attitude; ‘I am not doing anymore than what is required,’ and this is okay. Some officers will make the decision and commitment to take advantage of any training opportunities. These officers will begin to seek other avenues to improve certain job skills and interests to assist them in the performance of their job duties and meet future promotion opportunities. By taking the initiative to improve your job skills, education, and training, you are also working toward improving your professionalism. You are proud to be employed in corrections and will continue to exhibit professional demeanor and character.

Early on in my corrections career, I had the same desires and interests to excel. I also recognized the commitment on my part to learn as much as possible about corrections. I did not limit this just to my unit of assignment. I wanted to learn what occurs at other units. I wanted to obtain a thorough understanding of corrections and its many components. At the same time, I was hungry to obtain some rank and wanted to be as prepared as possible. This included both academic and corrections knowledge. As I began to work my way through the ranks, I also knew I had to continue my education. I began by obtaining an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, and eventually a master’s degree. While doing this I was taking advantage of any additional training opportunities. Along with this, I was building my resume and knew the importance of obtaining a college degree.

During this time I was like many of you; working long shifts, providing for my family, and commuting a distance to attend college. The prisons I worked at were located in rural communities and local colleges were not located nearby. Now we know the availability of the internet and online learning for obtaining a college degree and for training opportunities as well. Yes, there are obstacles along the way, but these are only temporary obstacles if you are determined to prevail

You will want to further develop your personal growth and to do so, you will have to ask yourself some questions. These questions may include the following;
  • Do you know if your agency provides employees with financial assistance?
  • Do you know who your training officer is and what training opportunities, literature, and other training resources are available for your use?
  • Do you belong to any professional organizations at the county, state, or regional levels?
  • Are you provided the opportunity to attend any conferences onsite or available on webinar?
  • Other

Now you may become frustrated if you answered no to any of these questions. That’s okay, the next step is to explore other options. You have access to the internet and this is an information highway. The only trick is to know credible sites to research corrections data and other information related to continuing your education and training opportunities. Possibly some training departments and facilities will have a list of the many sites to explore. For research sites I like .gov and .edu sites.

Costs are always a consideration, however many professional organizations can be accessed online. This includes webinar announcements and other training opportunities. In addition, entering many of these corrections sites do not have a cost. If an officer and/or staff have a desire to enhance their corrections knowledge, set aside some time and do the research. There are limited barriers to taking the next step to pursue education and training opportunities.

Terry Campbell is a criminal justice professor at Kaplan University, School of Public Safety and has more than 20 years of experience in corrections and policing. He has served in various roles, including prison warden and parole administrator, for the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Terry may be reached at criminaljustice@kaplan.edu .

Other articles by Campbell


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