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: July 2015)

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 sharply.


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) and persons in custody, usually waiting for a court decision, both from provincial and federal jurisdiction.

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 (10% versus 18%, according to 2011 National Household Survey 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 81% in 2011, according to census and National Household Survey data. 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.

If few openings will be staffed by experienced, unemployed correctional services officers, because the unemployment rate of these officers is extremely low, more should be filled by immigrants who meet the entrance requirements for the occupation. Although the number of immigrants is slightly lower than for all occupations (11% compared with 14%, according to 2011 National Household Survey data), this occupational group is nevertheless accessible to newcomers.


According to National Household Survey data, 97% of correctional services officers were working in public administration in 2011. Approximately 49% worked in provincial correctional institutions, while 44% 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 65% between 1999-2000 and 2013-2014. However, the rise in the number of defendant detentions (+110%) was much higher than the increase in the number of convicted offenders (+40%).

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 (with a close to 20 % increase between 2009-2010 and 2013-2014).

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. Although Quebec's correctional system is still focused on social reintegration, recent tightened 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 and National Household Survey data, women held 36% of the jobs in this occupation in 2011, a proportion that has risen significantly 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

In the following table, indicators such as the growth rate, yearly variation in employment, yearly attrition and total annual requirements are forecasts generated by economists from Service Canada, Quebec region. The data source for employment is Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. The volumes of unemployment insurance beneficiaries come from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)’s administrative data. All of the data are rounded.

  Unit Group 6462 All occupations
Employment, average 2011-2013 6,000 3,990,050
Employment Insurance claimants in 2013 5 80,700
Average Annual Growth Rate 2014-2018 2.0% 0.7%
Annual Employment Variation 2014-2018 150 26,500
Annual Attrition 2014-2018 70 74,300
Total Annual Needs 2014-2018 220 100,800

Employment Distribution

The data from the following employment distribution tables come from Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

  Unit Group 6462 All occupations
Employment by Gender
Males 64.2% 51.9%
Females 35.8% 48.1%
Employment by Age
15 - 24 years 5.1% 13.3%
25 - 44 years 60.6% 42.7%
45 - 64 years 34.3% 41.1%
65 years and over 0.0% 2.8%
Employment by Status
Full-time 97.3% 81.2%
Part-time 2.7% 18.8%
Employment by Annual Income
Full-time, full-year 71.3% 54.8%
Annual Average Income $63,000 $50,300
$0 - $19,999 3.0% 13.3%
$20,000 - $49,999 20.2% 48.0%
$50,000 and over 76.8% 38.8%
Employment by Highest Level of Schooling
Less than high-school 1.3% 12.1%
High-school 18.3% 20.3%
Post-secondary 59.7% 44.2%
Bachelors 20.7% 23.4%
Others Employment Distribution
Self-employment 0.0% 10.7%
Immigration 10.5% 13.7%
Employment by Region
Region Unit Group 6462 All occupations
Abitibi-Témiscamingue 2.0% 1.8%
Bas-Saint-Laurent 1.5% 2.3%
Capitale-Nationale 10.9% 9.4%
Centre-du-Québec 4.1% 2.9%
Chaudière-Appalaches 1.3% 5.5%
Côte-Nord / Nord-du-Québec 6.3% 1.6%
Estrie 4.8% 3.8%
Gaspésie–îles-de-la-Madeleine 1.9% 0.9%
Lanaudière 13.9% 6.1%
Laurentides 18.7% 7.3%
Laval 5.0% 5.2%
Mauricie 2.2% 3.0%
Montérégie 9.4% 19.2%
Montréal 11.0% 22.9%
Outaouais 4.2% 4.9%
Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean 3.0% 3.3%

Main Sectors of Employment

The data of the following table were prepared by economists from Service Canada, Quebec region. The data source is Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

Sector Unit Group 6462
Public Administration 96.9%
- Provincial 48.9%
- Federal 43.8%