If you live in the state of California and are interested in becoming a corrections officer, then you probably have quite a few questions. While questions about the field and the nature of the work are common, the most commonly asked question, by far, is how do I become a corrections officer?

The answer isn’t as simple as you might think, however; despite popular belief, there is no one “correct” path to follow in order to work as a corrections officer. How you choose to go about getting into the field is entirely up to you!

First and foremost, you should check to make sure that you are actually qualified to work within the corrections field. For the vast majority of positions, you have to be at least eighteen years of age, though some jobs will require you to be twenty-one. You must also not have any felony convictions on your record.

It is important to note, however, that while the “official” stance is no applicants with felony convictions, most people with any kind of criminal history will find it difficult to be hired in this highly competitive field.

You must also be willing to subject yourself to physical health testing, including vision and hearing testing, as well as to extensive psychological testing, all of which you must pass extraordinarily well in order to qualify.

If you think that you can meet the above criteria, then it’s time to start thinking about what is going to make you stand out above the competition. In the state of California, thousands of people apply to work in corrections, law enforcement, and related fields each year, and the vast majority of them are not hired.

With such stiff competition, you really have to do something to give yourself the upper hand. The path most people choose in order to increase their chances of being hired is formal education and/or training.

As mentioned briefly above, there is no one particular degree that you must earn to become a corrections officer. While degrees are offered in corrections itself, many people choose to earn their degrees in related fields, such as criminal justice, criminology, social work, psychology, and others.

For many, these degrees are more interesting, the programs are easier to find, and they afford the earner more career options than just a degree in corrections. The choice of what degree to pursue and of what degree level to choose is entirely up to you.

Generally speaking, however, the more closely related your degree is to corrections and the higher your degree level, the better your chances of getting hired.

In addition to meeting all of the qualifications and hopefully pursuing formal education in the field, also make sure that you take the time to sit down and consider why you really want to work in corrections and whether or not it’s the right fit for you. Corrections work is difficult but incredibly rewarding, but it’s certainly not for everyone.