Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Corrections Officer

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Below is a sample list of ideas to help you see how an occupation can reveal your character’s beliefs, history, goals, and more.

To view the full entry, visit One Stop for Writers where it resides within the largest fiction-based descriptive database ever created. (Free Trial available.)

Occupation: Corrections Officer (Prison Guard)

Overview: a corrections officer works in a prison, guarding inmates serving out their sentences, ensuring they are afforded their legal rights while obeying facility rules and local laws. They rotate through different assignments, staffing different areas including the gatehouse, observation towers, unit deployments (accommodation wings, infirmary, recreation area, etc.). Some positions are very hands-on (such as new prisoner intakes, which require pat downs and inmate paperwork, escorting prisoners, and monitoring pod areas as prisoners engage in daily activities such as card-playing and TV watching). Other assignments include monitoring controls, running headcounts, room checks for…

Correctional officers are responsible for the safety and rights of the inmates under their care as well as the safety of their fellow officers. Working in a prison is much different than portrayed on the screen, although no less dangerous. They may have to respond to fights, medical emergencies, and other incidents…

Working in an environment where people lie consistently and they have done a variety of unconscionable crimes can lead your character to adopt a jaded or darker viewpoint, especially and it can be a challenge to stay above it by treating each prisoner equally regardless of their crimes. Depending on the jail environment…

Necessary Training: Non-federal prison require a high school diploma or a completed general equivalency diploma, while federal prisons require a bachelor’s degree or three years of counseling and supervising others. Officers must also pass background checks and…

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, basic first aid, blending in, enhanced hearing, enhanced sense of smell, esp (clairvoyance), exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills…

Helpful Character Traits: alert, analytical, bold, centered, confident, cooperative, courageous, courteous, diplomatic, disciplined, focused…

Sources of Friction: trying to manage friction between gangs, overcrowding issues, poor quality of living leading to volatile prisoners, prison rapes and attacks, a drug problem, discovering inappropriate conduct between a guard an a prisoner, a corrections officer who is unreliable, family problems due to

People They Might Interact With: prisoners, prison staff, administration, the warden, psychologists, doctors and nurses, police officers

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Self-Actualization: Because this work is mentally taxing and can drain one’s spirit, it is easy to adopt a jaded, negative worldview. This could prevent the character from fulfilling a life pursuit that
  • Love and Belonging: shift work and overtime can impact one’s ability to keep family relationships strong, or
  • Safety and Security: prisoners can be deceptive, violent, and have nothing to lose, so working as a jail guard means a constant risk to one’s safety, especially in
  • Physiological Needs: becoming overwhelmed during a riot or attempted hostage situation would mean….

Common Work-Related Settings: ambulance, break room, courtroom, hospital room, juvenile detention center, morgue, police car, police station, prison cell

Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.

How will your character’s occupation help reveal their innermost layers?

Much of your character’s life will revolve around their work, and whether they love it or hate it, their job is a great way to show, not tell, their personality traits, skills, work ethic, worldview and beliefs, and more, so we should choose it with care.

Want access to this resource?

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The Occupation Thesaurus is yet another priceless author resource released in this series…” ~ Brandi MacCurdy

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About ANGELA ACKERMAN

Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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J.L. Campbell (@JL_Campbell)

Waiting eagerly for this Thesaurus.

BECCA PUGLISI
Admin
2 years ago

So glad you’re enjoying it! We never know which of our thesauruses will be turned into books; some of them just stay at the blog, or at One Stop For Writers. We’ll keep you posted on this one :).

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[…] https://writershelpingwriters.net/2018/03/occupation-thesaurus-entry-corrections-officer/ “Overview: a corrections officer works in a prison, guarding inmates serving out their sentences, ensuring they are afforded their legal rights while obeying facility rules and local laws. They rotate through different assignments, staffing different areas including the gatehouse, observation towers, unit deployments (accommodation wings, infirmary, recreation area, etc.). Some positions are very hands-on (such as new prisoner intakes, which require pat downs and inmate paperwork, escorting prisoners, and monitoring pod areas as prisoners engage in daily activities such as card-playing and TV watching). Other assignments include monitoring controls, running headcounts, room checks for contraband, and overseeing paperwork. They also may assist with vocational training for prisoners, helping them to make the best time of their incarceration both for personal wellness and to help them integrate with society upon release, and help inmates address behavioral issues that are tied to their offenses.” […]

Barbara Hussey
Barbara Hussey
2 years ago

Yes. I should have remembered not to trust Siiri’s spelling.

Erika Hayes
2 years ago

My SIL served for several years as a DO. (Detention officer) I think you nailed it. Another characteristic of a “good” DO is that they are hyper-observant. He often found things in cells during tosses – DOs work in an environment where they have to mistrust EVERYONE and that can leak over into their personal lives – they are always looking for motives to others behavior. (imagine what that is like if you are married to a psychologist! he is haha) they also must be able to remain calm in high-stress situations and that can be VERY beneficial in emergency situations outside the jail. Very good at taking charge in those situations as well. (ie a car accident, the DO will make sure everyone is moving to do something productive). They can appear secretive but they are not they are observing! 🙂

Barbara Hussey
Barbara Hussey
2 years ago

Good one, thanks. Another good occupation that writers could use is Parile Officer.