Correctional Service Officers

Unit Group 6462

Skill Type: Sales and Service Occupations

Type of work

Correctional service officers guard prisoners and detainees and maintain order in correctional institutions and other places of detention.

For the full and official description of this occupation according to the National Occupational Classification, visit the NOC site.

Examples of Occupational Titles

  • correctional facility guard
  • correctional service officer
  • detention attendant
  • prison guard
  • supervisor, correctional officers


Job prospects in this occupation are good.

(Update: March 2013)

Despite some fluctuations, the number of correctional service officers has increased significantly over the last few years. This rise can be explained primarily by changes in the number of incarcerated individuals. Because the number of people in prison is expected to increase further in the coming years, we anticipate that the number of correctional service officers will increase sharptly.


Responsibility for penal and correctional matters is shared between the governments of Canada and Quebec. Federal penitentiaries house inmates serving sentences of two years or longer, while provincial detention facilities (also known as prisons) are for those serving sentences of less than two years (two years minus a day).

Sources of employment

Job openings will come primarily from employment increase, but also from positions vacated by retiring correctional services officers. The number of retiring workers is expected to be fairly high, as these officers generally retire earlier than the average worker. The proportion of such officers in the 55 and over age group is significantly lower than in all occupations (9.5% versus 15%, according to 2006 Census data). In fact, their pension plans grant full pensions with fewer than the 35 years of service required by the vast majority of other pension plans.

Other openings will be added as a result of positions vacated by correctional officers leaving the occupation. A certain amount of turnover has been observed as a result of working conditions that can be stressful and restrictive: interaction with inmates, security measures, use of firearms and tear gas, shift work, work on weekends, on call, etc.

Labour pool

These openings will be accessible to people who meet the requirements of the hiring conditions of the federal and provincial public administrations. Educational requirements are increasingly important when it comes to accessing this occupation. Proof of this can be found in the proportion of officers who hold post-secondary diplomas, which has risen from 47% in 1991 to 75% in 2006. Although the two public administrations have somewhat different conditions for admission to exams (see the Training section), the certificate of college studies (AEC) in correctional intervention is the training course best tailored to access the occupation, according to data from the Department of Education, Recreation and Sport's Relance study. A number of openings will also be accessible to holders of diplomas of college studies (DECs) in correctional intervention, police techniques and special education. Again according to Relance, the labour market situation for delinquency intervention AEC holders is usually better than that of the average AEC graduate in terms of pay and percentage of employed and unemployed graduates but is equivalent with respect to finding a job in the field of study. This situation has deteriorated somewhat in 2011, probably due to the sharp rise in the number of graduates (over 50%).

Very few openings will be staffed by experienced, unemployed correctional services officers, because the unemployment rate of these officers is extremely low. According to census data, the occupation is not very accessible to immigrants, as they make up less than 5% of the occupation as of the most recent census, as compared to 12% for all occupations.


According to Census data, 96% of correctional services officers were working in public administration in 2006. Over 53% worked in provincial correctional institutions, while 42% were employed in federal correctional services.


Changes in employment in this occupation depend on demand for prison services and on government policy.

Demand for incarceration services

Demand for incarceration services is directly related to the number of inmate admissions and the duration of their sentences.

According to correctional data from Sécurité publique Québec, the number of inmate admissions in Quebec prisons dropped by nearly 25% between the late 1990s and early 2000s, increasing slightly thereafter. However, sentence duration has increased because inmates are being granted fewer temporary absences. The number of persons accused is rising significantly in recent years, making at the same time increase the population of these institutions The overall number of prisoners rose by 50% between 1999-2000 and 2011-2012. However, the rise in the number of defendant detentions (+95%) was much higher than the increase in the number of convicted offenders (+25%).

According to Statistics Canada data, the number of people in federal establishments in Quebec rose sharply until the mid-1990s, then declined equally sharply until the middle of the first decade of the 2000s, stabilize until 2009 and start up thereafter.

Government policy

For a number of years, the Quebec correctional system has been focusing on the social reintegration of convicts. Probation and inmate monitoring outside of detention centres is therefore a major priority that provides more jobs for probation and parole officers (see 4155) than for correctional services officers. This trend has continued throughout the years and, in a context of tight budgets, led to the closure of a number of detention centres in the late 1990s. In the wake of dramatic events at the turn of the millennium, public opinion hardened against early parole. Although Quebec's correctional system is less focused on social reintegration, recent legislation is aimed at tightening restrictions on convicts.

At the federal level, recently adopted government measures call for more severe penalties and are therefore expected to increase the prison population. For example, the enactment of a law raised the minimum amount of time served before a non-violent offender can apply for parole from one-sixth to one-third of the sentence. More recently, another bill was adopted that includes mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes. These two bills could reverse the past trend and result in better employment prospects for workers in this occupation rather than for probation and parole officers. This having been said, it will take a few years before the effect of these bills can be quantified.

Given all these factors, we anticipate that the number of correctional services officers will increase sharptly in the coming years.

Employment characteristics

According to census data, women held 33% of the jobs in this occupation in 2006, a proportion that has risen slightly since 1991 (17%).

Education and Training

To gain access to the occupation, candidates normally have to take part in a call for applications, both at the provincial and federal levels. While diplomas (DECs and AECs) in delinquency, prison, and correctional intervention or specialized correctional techniques are assets, they are not required conditions of admission for Sécurité publique du Québec and Correctional Service of Canada exams.

To be eligible to take the Sécurité publique du Québec written exams, candidates are required to have a secondary school diploma (DES) and have completed two years of post-secondary education in special education, police technology or a program in one of the helping disciplines. Experience may sometimes compensate for lack of education. Following the process, the selected candidates receive training at theÉcole nationale de police du Québec before taking up their duties.

Candidates for Correctional Service of Canada exams must meet the educational and experience criteria set out in the call for applications. The minimum requirement is always a secondary school diploma (DES); first-aid, CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) usage certification are sometimes required. Post-secondary training in a field related to the position is an asset.

The Correctional Service of Canada also provides initial corrections officer training, whose duration is four to five months. Further details are available on the following Correctional Service Web page.

Useful References

Important Considerations

The number of correctional services officers is expected to rise sharptly in the coming years.

Recruitment is normally done by means of calls for applications for exams and interviews. Diplomas of college studies (DECs and AECs) in delinquency, prison, and correctional intervention, specialized correctional techniques or police technology are not required but may constitute assets by increasing the odds of promotion within the occupation.

Statistics 6462 - Correctional Service Officers

Main Labour Market Indicators

Main Labour Market Indicators Unit Group 6462 All occupations
Employment, average 2009-2011 5,250 3,905,700
EI Claimants in 2011 10 92,650
Average Annual Growth Rate 2012-2016 2.1% 0.7%
Annual Employment Variation 2012-2016 100 27,050
Annual Attrition 2012-2016 60 72,750
Total Annual Needs 2012-2016 160 99,800

Employment Distribution by Gender

Employment Distribution by Gender Unit Group 6462 All occupations
Males 66.6% 52.7%
Females 33.4% 47.3%

Employment Distribution by Age

Employment Distribution by Age Unit Group 6462 All occupations
15 - 24 years 3.7% 14.1%
25 - 44 years 54.4% 45.1%
45 - 64 years 41.0% 38.8%
65 years and over 0.9% 2.0%

Employment Distribution by Status

Employment Distribution by Status Unit Group 6462 All occupations
Full-time 94.2% 79.2%
Part-time 5.8% 20.8%

Average Annual Employment Income

Average Annual Employment Income
(Full-Time, Full-Year)
Unit Group 6462 All occupations
Full-time, full-year 78.3% 53.2%
Average income 50,871 45,157
0-19999$ 1.9% 16.5%
20000-49999$ 43.3% 52.4%
50000$ and over 54.8% 31.1%

Employment Distribution by Highest Level of Schooling

Employment Distribution by
Highest Level of Schooling
Unit Group 6462 All occupations
Less than high-school 2.1% 14.1%
High-school 24.1% 21.9%
Post-secondary 53.4% 43.1%
Bachelors 20.4% 20.9%

Employment Distribution by Region

Employment Distribution by Region Unit Group 6462 All occupations
Abitibi-Témiscamingue 1.5% 1.8%
Bas-St-Laurent 1.2% 2.5%
Capitale-Nationale 12.0% 9.1%
Centre-du-Québec 3.8% 2.9%
Chaudière-Appalaches 1.5% 5.4%
Côte-Nord-Nord du Québec 7.7% 1.7%
Estrie 2.8% 3.9%
Gaspésie-îles-de-la-Madeleine 1.5% 1.1%
Lanaudière 12.3% 5.8%
Laurentides 20.6% 7.0%
Laval 7.0% 5.0%
Mauricie 1.9% 3.1%
Montérégie 10.8% 18.7%
Montréal 10.3% 24.1%
Outaouais 3.8% 4.7%
Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean 1.5% 3.3%


Employment Distribution Unit Group 6462 All occupations
Self-employment 0.2% 11.2%


Employment Distribution Unit Group 6462 All occupations
Immigration 4.5% 12.2%

Main Areas of Employment

Main Areas of Employment Percentage
Public Administration 96.2%
- Provincial 52.6%
- Federal 42.3%