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How Much Do Prison Guards Make in Texas?

Prison guards, also known as correctional officers, are responsible for overseeing individuals who have been incarcerated in jails, prisons, and other correctional facilities. Their duties include maintaining security and order within the facility, monitoring inmate activities, escorting inmates to appointments or hearings, conducting searches to prevent contraband, and enforcing rules and regulations.

The role of a prison guard can be stressful and dangerous at times, given the nature of the inmates under their watch. However, it is an important job that helps ensure prisons and jails operate safely and securely. For those interested in pursuing a career as a correctional officer, one important consideration is the salary and benefits that come with the job. This article will take a closer look at how much prison guards make in the state of Texas.

Salary for Prison Guards in Texas

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 21,660 correctional officers and jailers employed in Texas as of May 2020.[1] The average annual salary for correctional officers and jailers in Texas is $44,930, which equates to $21.61 per hour.[2] Texas ranks 6th in the nation when it comes to highest employment level for this occupation.

Here is a breakdown of the salary ranges for prison guards in Texas:

  • Entry level (bottom 25%): $34,820 annually ($16.74/hr)
  • Median annual salary: $44,930 ($21.61/hr)
  • Experienced (top 25%): $55,380 annually ($26.62/hr)

Salaries can vary depending on factors like location, experience level, and type of correctional facility. Prison guards employed by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) generally make between $36,000 to $44,000 per year.[3] The TDCJ operates over 100 prisons across the state of Texas.

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Major metropolitan areas like Houston and Dallas tend to have higher average salaries. For example, the BLS reports the average salary for correctional officers in the Houston metropolitan area is $48,730.[4]

Benefits for Prison Guards in Texas

In addition to salary, prison guard jobs in Texas come with a comprehensive benefits package:

  • Health insurance – Medical, dental, and vision insurance is provided. Dependents can also be covered.
  • Retirement – Correctional officers participate in the Law Enforcement and Custodial Officer Supplemental Retirement Fund. This includes a pension plan.
  • Paid leave – New prison guards start with 8 hours of vacation and 12 hours of sick leave per month. This increases with tenure on the job.
  • Paid holidays – At least 11 paid holidays per year are provided, including Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Labor Day.
  • Tuition reimbursement – Up to $4,000 per year is available to help with continuing education. This helps guards advance in their careers.
  • Life insurance – A $5000 life insurance policy is included. Supplemental policies can be purchased.
  • Other perks – Uniforms, shift differentials, employee assistance programs, and legal protection may also be offered as benefits.

Overall, the combination of salary, health insurance, retirement contributions, paid time off, and other benefits makes prison guard positions relatively attractive in Texas compared to similar law enforcement roles.

Job Outlook for Prison Guards

The job outlook for correctional officers in Texas is quite strong. According to BLS projections, employment for jailers and prison guards in Texas is expected to grow by over 9% between 2020 and 2030.[5] This is significantly higher than the average job growth rate across all occupations in the state.

Some of the factors contributing to robust job growth for prison guards in Texas include:

  • Increasing prison populations requiring more correctional officers for oversight.
  • Current guards retiring and needing to be replaced.
  • Demand for guards at newer facilities, like privately owned and operated prisons.

This means that opportunities should be widely available for qualified individuals interested in becoming correctional officers. Competition is still expected for higher paying roles at more desirable facilities though.

Overall, Texas continues to be one of the top-employing states for correctional officers, especially in major metro regions. The combination of strong salary, benefits, job growth, and openings should create a favorable hiring environment.

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Requirements to Become a Prison Guard in Texas

While the future prospects look good, interested applicants should be aware of the minimum qualifications and steps required to become a correctional officer in Texas:

Education

  • High school diploma or GED required at minimum
  • Postsecondary education in criminal justice may improve candidacy

Training & Licensure

  • Complete minimum 300 hours of TCLOSE approved training
  • Pass exam to receive intermediate jailer or corrections officer license
  • Must be 21 years old minimum

Background Check

  • Candidates undergo fingerprinting, drug testing, background check
  • No felony convictions or probation within past 10 years
  • Good credit history required

Physical Abilities

  • Meet health and fitness standards
  • Pass hearing and vision assessments
  • Demonstrate ability to handle emergency situations

Application & Interview

  • Apply to open positions at state prisons or specific counties
  • Go through extensive interview process
  • Show you have necessary hard and soft skills

Meeting all qualifications, completing training, and going through background checks and interviews sets candidates up for the best chances of being hired. It demonstrates commitment to pursuing a career as a correctional officer.

The Work Environment of a Prison Guard

Working as a correctional officer in Texas involves a highly structured and regulated environment. However, the day-to-day work conditions and responsibilities can vary depending on factors like:

  • Type of facility (state prison, county jail, etc.)
  • Level of security (maximum vs. minimum security)
  • Inmate population (men, women, juveniles)
  • Shift worked (day, night, weekend, holiday)

In general, guards can expect an environment with:

  • Strict regulations, policies, and standard operating procedures
  • Rotating shift work and overtime
  • Locked facility doors and barriers throughout
  • Noise from inmates and intercom announcements
  • The potential for violence and confrontational situations

Duties are both indoor and outdoor and include:

  • Overseeing housing units, yards, cafeterias, and other areas
  • Performing inmate counts and safety checks
  • Inspecting cells and common areas for contraband
  • Transporting inmates between units or buildings

It can be stressful dealing with inmates who may be prone to outbursts and violating rules. Guards must maintain positive relationships with inmates to promote order. Teamwork with other officers is critical for safety purposes.

Conclusion

Prison guards have a demanding yet rewarding job that comes with decent pay in the state of Texas. A career as a correctional officer provides the opportunity to earn around $45,000 annually, along with health and retirement benefits, paid leave, and tuition reimbursement. With increasing demand and competitive job prospects predicted, now is an advantageous time to consider becoming a prison guard in Texas. The job requires meeting stringent qualifications but offers many advantages if you are up for the challenge.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much overtime do prison guards in Texas work?

The amount of overtime worked varies, but guards should expect to put in overtime regularly due to shift coverage needs. Some overtime is voluntary, while other OT hours may be mandatory based on staffing requirements.

Do Texas prison guards get hazard pay?

Yes, guards working in high risk units may qualify for hazard duty pay on top of their base pay. The hazard pay bump is typically 5-10% above the regular salary.

How long is the prison guard academy in Texas?

The minimum TCLOSE approved corrections officer academy in Texas is 300 hours or around 8-10 weeks. Some programs are longer for more extensive training.

What is the highest paying prison guard job in Texas?

Supervisory and administrative roles like lieutenants, captains, and wardens are the highest paying jobs. Salaries for these positions can range from $60,000 up to $100,000 annually.

Do prison guards in Texas carry guns?

Most correctional officers do not carry firearms daily but have access to them in the prison armory if needed. Special tactical teams and high-level supervisors may routinely carry guns.

References

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wages, Correctional Officers and Jailers in Texas. Accessed January 2023.
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Correctional Officers and Bailiffs, Accessed January 2023.
  3. Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Officer Careers, Accessed January 2023
  4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2020 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for Texas. Accessed January 2023.
  5. Projections Central, State Occupational Projections Correctional Officers and Jailers in Texas, Accessed January 2023.

Prison Inside Team

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We are dedicated to exploring the intricacies of prison life and justice reform through firsthand experiences and expert insights.

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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