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Corrections Officer

Āpiha Whare Herehere

Alternative titles for this job

Corrections officers are responsible for keeping prisoners safe and secure and motivating them to make changes in their lives.


New corrections officers usually earn

$51K-$54K per year

Experienced corrections officers usually earn

$54K-$63K per year

Source: Department of Corrections, 2018.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a corrections officer are good due to a shortage of workers.


Pay for corrections officers varies depending on their experience and level of responsibility.

  • Corrections officers in training can expect to earn about $51,000 a year.
  • Trained corrections officers usually earn between $51,000 and $54,000.
  • Senior and principal corrections officers can earn between $54,000 and $63,000.

Source: Department of Corrections, 2018. 

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Corrections officers may do some or all of the following:

  • supervise prisoners' daily routine, which includes meal, work and recreation times
  • monitor, assess and manage the behaviour and safety of prisoners
  • patrol prison buildings and grounds
  • ensure the physical and mental safety of prisoners
  • set up and monitor prisoners' sentence plans
  • monitor prison visits and record visitors' details
  • motivate prisoners to make changes to their behaviour
  • help control and lessen conflict in the prison
  • take part in rehabilitation programmes
  • prepare reports relating to prisoners and any incidents that occur
  • escort prisoners to court hearings, funerals or appointments with dentists or doctors.

Skills and knowledge

Corrections officers need to have knowledge of:

  • prison policy, procedures, rules and routines
  • control and restraint techniques
  • first aid and safety procedures.

Working conditions

Corrections officers:

  • work shifts, including public holidays, weekends and nights
  • work in prisons and courts. They also supervise prisoners in work groups on prison grounds or off-site
  • work in conditions that can be demanding and stressful as they may be at risk of verbal and physical abuse.

Entry requirements

To become a corrections officer you need to have:

  • a current, full driver's licence
  • a clean criminal conviction record
  • the right to work in New Zealand for at least two years.

You must also pass:

  • medical, psychological and physical fitness tests
  • drug tests.

The Department of Corrections provides training for new corrections officers, which includes workplace and classroom learning. Initial training takes two weeks. Full corrections officer training takes 12 months.

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children.

Secondary education

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a corrections officer. However, languages, social studies and te reo Māori are useful.

Personal requirements

Corrections officers need to be:

  • good at communicating with a range of people, including prisoners and their families and friends
  • dependable and honest
  • mature, non-judgemental and fair in their dealings with prisoners
  • observant, alert and accurate
  • able to follow orders 
  • able to work well under pressure 
  • able to remain positive in difficult situations
  • assertive and able to use their initiative
  • interested in helping others.

Useful experience

Useful experience for corrections officers includes:

  • work as a probation officer
  • community work
  • social work
  • coaching experience.

Physical requirements

Corrections officers need to be fit, healthy and strong as they spend a lot of time on their feet and the job can be physically demanding. They also have need to have good hearing.

Find out more about training

Department of Corrections
recruit@corrections.govt.nz - www.corrections.govt.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Strong demand for corrections officers

There is strong demand for corrections officers due to not enough people entering the role.

According to the Census, 4,218 correction officers worked in New Zealand in 2018.

Most corrections officers employed by Department of Corrections

Most corrections officers are employed by the Department of Corrections. 

Serco New Zealand employs corrections officers for the Kohuora Auckland South Corrections Facility.


  • Christian,H, 'Prisons across the Country are Short Hundreds of Staff, Corrections Reveals', 25 June 2018, (www.stuff.co.nz).
  • Cowlishaw, S, 'Budget 2018: Waikeria Prison on Hold', 17 May 2018, (www.newsroom.co.nz).
  • Davison, I, 'Budget 2018: Corrections Get Boost to Cope With Fast-Growing Prison Population', 17 May 2018, (www.nzherald.co.nz).
  • Department of Corrections, 'Briefing to the Incoming Minister 2017', 2017, (www.corrections.govt.nz).
  • Department of Corrections website, accessed May 2018, (www.corrections.govt.nz).
  • Fisher, D, 'Andrew Little: Longer Sentences, More Prisoners – it Doesn't Work and it Has to Stop', 22 February 2018, (www.nzherald.co.nz),
  • Gattey, M, 'Government Aims to Cut Prison Population and Fix "Abnormal" System', 29 March 2018, (www.stuff.co.nz).
  • Ministry of Justice, 'Justice Sector Forecast 2011–2021, Forecast Update', March 2015, accessed May 2018, (www.justice.govt.nz).
  • Rakuraku,S, manager recruitment administration, Department of Corrections, careers.govt.nz interview, July 2018.
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Corrections officers may progress to work as senior corrections officers, principal corrections officers and unit managers.

Corrections officers may also move into jobs in management or policy at Department of Corrections or Ministry of Justice.

Perez Mupiu

Correction officers, like Perez Mupiu, motivate prisoners to make changes to their behaviour.

Last updated 13 August 2021