Prison Warden

Prison wardens manage prisons and other correctional facilities. To effectively execute their responsibilities, prison wardens must understand employee management, correctional facility security and administration, organizational budgeting procedures, and inmate supervision methods. Prison wardens monitor, overhaul, and evaluate prison operation procedures. Prison wardens are held accountable for how prisoners are treated, disciplined, rehabilitated, educated, housed, and fed. They also manage correctional facility employees.

Wardens set operating budgets, hire employees, review reports, and approve new prison policies. Wardens also have public relations duties. They speak to elected officials about new facility programs, write reports, and issue press releases. Prison wardens also hold press conferences, speak to community groups, and train prison staffs. After wardens are briefed on new laws affecting correctional facilities, they're responsible for teaching employees about policy changes. Prison wardens must be effective leaders and thoroughly understand laws governing correctional facilities.

Working Conditions
Prison wardens risk injury since they work in prisons housing violent criminals and frequently interact with inmates. It's also a stressful job since wardens are accountable for inmate rehabilitation, managing hundreds of employees, and operating on tight budgets.

Qualifications and Training
Educational and training requirements for becoming a prison warden vary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to become a correctional officer requires a high school diploma or GED. Many wardens start out as correctional officers. After attaining several years of experience, training and an advanced education, a correctional officer may apply to become or be promoted to the position of warden. A report published by the Tennesse Department of Corrections shows that many wardens have at least a bachelor's degree.

Regardless of education, wardens must be experienced in administration of correctional facilities, understand inmate psychology and have indepth knowledge of institutional behavior. Most prison wardens have between 15 to 30 years of correction experience and most started out as correctional officers.

General educational and experience requirements for becoming a prison warden include the following:

  • College degree in law enforcement, corrections, business management, sociology, justice administration, English, or criminal justice
  • A year or more of experience managing correctional facilities
  • Successful completion of a polygraph and drug test, along with a thorough background examination

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As of 2013, prison wardens in these states earned the following average annual salaries:

  • Pennsylvania - $35,000 to 51,000
  • Nevada - $65,000 to 95,000
  • Connecticut - $78,000 to 103,000
  • Kentucky - $42,000 to 57,000

Again, it is unlikely that you'll become a prison warden without first gaining several years of experience in corrections. Consequently, it's no surprise that many prison wardens start out as corrections officers, commonly referred to as prison guards. The chart below shows average salaries for prison guards for 2010 according to the Bureau of Labor Statitics. While these figures are slighly lower than today's salaries, the provide a good picture of relative compensation between states. You can expect to make anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 a year more once you become a prison warden.

Job Outlook
While there isn't specific information, relating to job outlook, for Prison Wardens, we predict that employment opportunities will continue to be stable over the next decade as prison populations grow and many wardens will be retiring, opening up warden positions for new market entrants.

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