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Careers at IDOC

Correctional Officer Trainee (COT) Salary & Benefit Information (3/18/2024)

The starting salary for a Correctional Officer Trainee is $53,820 per year. During the three-month appointment as a trainee all COTs are required to attend six weeks at the Corrections Training Academy. Work Attire is issued while in training. Upon successful completion of a three-month trainee period, the COT is promoted to a Correctional Officer (CO). At that time, their salary increases to $57,828. After a four-and-a-half-month probationary period, the CO becomes certified. 

The State of Illinois provides employees with Health, Vision, and Dental insurance. Life insurance is provided at 100% your annual salary. This position includes a pension plan.

Benefit time for new employees includes three (3) personal business days, ten (10) vacation days, and twelve (12) sick days per year.


First Step: Apply Online for a Correctional Officer Trainee Position

Correctional Officer Trainee Class Specification

Individuals applying must complete an electronic Applicant Data Form.

All information submitted is considered confidential. Submitting multiple applications could delay the scheduling of your application. After receiving your application, IDOC will notify you of the next screening date.

Second Step: Prepare for Screening Event

The next step to become a Correctional Officer Trainee is to attend one of IDOC's screening events. During this step, you will bring your required documents and take an exam to meet hiring eligibility. After receiving your application, IDOC will notify you of the next screening date. IDOC typically hosts one screening event per month.

Minimum Qualifications to Screen

  • 18 years of age
  • Valid driver's license
  • High School Diploma or GED certificate
  • U.S. citizen or authorized alien with proof of a permanent resident card
  • Speak, read, and write English

Note: Illinois residency is required for employment as a Correctional Officer Trainee. Non-residents may be screened; however, non-residents shall not be considered until the list of all qualified Illinois residents has been exhausted. If selected, non-residents must establish Illinois residency prior to employment.

Required Documents for Screening

These documents must be completed and brought on the day of screening.

Applicants must bring clear copies of the following applicable documents to the screening session. Applicants who fail to provide these documents on the day of screening will not be permitted to test.

  • copy of your birth certificate or a certified letter of birth verification from the courthouse.
  • copy of citizenship verification if you are a naturalized citizen of the United States. If you are not a citizen or a naturalized citizen, you must produce a permanent resident card. (Not applicable for citizens)
  • copy of your high school diploma of G.E.D. Equivalency certificate.
  • A  copy of your Selective Service System registration card or other proof of registration. (Males age 18-26 should contact Federal Selective Service to verify registration)
  • copy of official college transcripts or diploma.
  • copy of a photo I.D.
  • copy AND the original of a valid driver's license.

Required Military Documentation:

  • Veteran: Certified copy of DD214 / DD215
  • Illinois National Guard / United States Military Reserve:
    • Activated into federal service and still serving: Certified copy of DD214/DD215 and letter from unit personnel indicating satisfactory service.
    • Activated into federal service and discharged under honorable conditions: Certified copy of DD214/DD215, certified copy of NGB 22, discharge orders or DD256 certificate.
    • Never activated into federal service and currently serving: Certified copy of NGB 22, discharge orders, or DD256 certificate.
    • Never activated into federal service and discharged with four or more years' service. Certified copy of the following documents:
      1. Army or Air National Guard, NGB 22 Report of Separation and Record of Service
      2. Army Reserve, DARP FM 249-2E Chronological Statement of Retirement Points
      3. Navy Reserve, NRPC 1070-124 Annual Retirement Point Record
      4. Air Force Reserve, AF 526 Point Summary Sheet
      5. USMC Reserve, NAVMC 798 Reserve Retirement Credit Report
      6. Coast Guard, CG 4175 / PPC 4973 Coast Guard Reserve Annual or Terminal Statement of Retirement Points.
  • Disabled Veteran / Purple Heart Recipient: Certified copy of DD214/DD215 and award letter issued within the last year from the United State Department of Veterans Affairs indicating service-connected disability. Call (800) 827-1000 to obtain a current letter. If Purple Heart recipient, certified copy of DD214/DD215, orders, or certificate awarding decoration.
  • Un-remarried Spouse / Parent of Disabled or Deceased Veteran: Certified copy of DD214/DD215 and award letter issued within the last year from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, indicating service-connected disability or death. A death certificate or Report of Casualty for the deceased veteran is required. Request a CMS-255 form.

Questions regarding veterans' preference may be directed to the Illinois Department of Central Management Services Veterans Outreach Program or the Illinois Relay CenterCertified copies of DD214/DD215 may be obtained from: Illinois Department of Veterans AffairsNational Personnel Records Center, or the County clerk's office where you registered your military service.

Third Step: Complete Screening Process

On the day of screening applicants will complete four examinations: Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE), a Physical Agility test, an Observation exam, and a Structural Interview. Applicants must meet minimum standards on each examination. Applicants can earn up to a total of 130 screening points and are placed on eligibility lists in rank order. Institutions hire applicants based on scores. Points are assigned to each of the following dimensions based on its relationship to successful job performance.


Point Range

​TABE Test


​Physical Agility


​Observation Exam

​0 - 20

​Rutan Interview

​0 - 100

​Military Experience

​0 - 10

1.  Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE)

  • IDOC requires applicants for security positions to successfully complete a written reading comprehension and vocabulary multiple choice examination. Applicants must receive a minimum score equivalent to the 10th grade reading level on the TABE to move on the next phase in the screening process.
  • The TABE is used to establish a baseline for reading comprehension. No screening points are awarded for its successful completion.
  • COT applicants who submit copies of college transcripts verifying completion of 15 credit hours are exempt from taking the TABE.

2.  Physical Agility Test (pass/fail)

  • Applicants are required to successfully complete a physical agility test to be eligible for hire. The test includes four exercises designed to measure an applicant's ability to perform the job duties required of a Correctional Officer Trainee. Applicants must complete each to continue in the screening process. The Physical Agility Test is a pass/fail test.

3.  Observation Examination (0-20 points)

  • Applicants will be given a scenario write up to assess their capacity to comprehensively, fairly, and objectively evaluate a scenario and provide a detailed incident report. Each applicant will be given 3 minutes to review the scenario and will be allowed to take notes. An applicant will have 5 minutes to complete a multiple choice exam.

4.  Structured Oral Interview and Writing Sample (0-100 points)

  • Two screeners will interview applicants using a standardized interview questionnaire. Upon conclusion of the interview, the screeners independently rate the applicant. An applicant can receive a total of 100 points.

+ Military Service (0-10 points) 

Points are awarded to any armed forces veteran that received discharges of Honorable or General Under Honorable Conditions. A copy of the DD214 (Member 4 edition) must be supplied. Documentation of military service is based on a review of all Certificates of Military Release of Discharge. To be eligible for military points and to be considered for employment, an applicant must produce long versions of all Military Discharges. The long version shall indicate years of service, character of service, and type of discharge. Points may be awarded as follows:

Veteran Status

Eligible Points

Veteran who received a Purple Heart


Veteran with Service-connected Disability


Spouse of a Veteran who Suffered a Service-connected Disability or Death


Parent of a Veteran who Suffered a Service-connected Disability or Death


Veteran during Hostility


Illinois National Guard or Reserves Member Activated (6 months or more outside of training)


Veteran during Peacetime


Illinois National Guard or Reserves Member Never Activated


* Three (3) points awarded if serviced during peacetime; five (5) points if served during hostilities.
** Award letter from the Federal V.A. Office required.

Hostility Periods Recognized (eff. 11/15/1996)

Time Period


April 6, 1917 - November 11, 1918


December 7, 1941 - December 31, 1946


June 27, 1950 - January 31, 1955


February 28, 1961 - May 7, 1975


June 6, 1983 - December 1, 1987


October 23, 1983 - November 21, 1983


December 20, 1989 - January 31, 1990


August 2, 1990 - November 30, 1995

Gulf War

September 11, 2001 - Indeterminate

War on Terror

Fourth Step: Selecting Applicants for Hire

Ranking Applicants for Hire

Total screening scores are based on the points accrued during the written examination, oral interview, education, work experience, and documentation of military service. Applicants may earn 0-130 total screening points. Applicants are ranked in order from highest to lowest. Successful completion of the screening process places an applicant on an eligibility list for hire for a period of three years from the last day of the month in which they screen. If an applicant chooses to retake the test within that time, the most current screening score overrides the previously reported score. Applicants may select a primary county (A list) and a secondary county (B list) where they will accept employment.

Applicant Selection

Facilities select applicants for hire from their county eligibility list(s) based on the highest overall screening score. When applicants receive the same overall screening score, ties will be broken through a lottery. Established affirmative action goals may be taken into consideration.

Facilities will make three reasonable attempts to contact eligible applicants for employment. At least one of the three attempts will be made after 6:00 p.m. or on a weekend.

Applicants selected for hire are required to attend a multiple week pre-service training program in Decatur prior to assuming job duties at a facility. New hires are transported to Decatur via State-provided transportation for pre-service training. Housing in the Training Academy dormitories is provided.

Background Investigations

A background investigation is conducted on all applicants selected for hire. This process involves inquiries via the Law Enforcement Agencies Data System (LEADS), which includes a computerized criminal history check, NCIC hot files, and Secretary of State drivers-information check. Drug tests and employment reference checks are also conducted. Information gathered may be utilized when selecting an applicant for hire. Conflicts of interest subject an applicant's file to administrative review prior to consideration for hire. The following situations may result in administrative review and a determination of ineligibility for hire:

  • former DOC employee
  • prior convictions other than minor traffic offenses
  • relatives employed by the Department of Corrections
  • suitability issues (i.e. individual in custody visitor lists; job discharges)

Physical Examination

Prior to employment, a complete medical history is obtained, and a complete physical examination and visual screening exam is conducted.

Transfer Policy

Correctional Officer Trainees may not transfer to another facility immediately upon hire. Do not accept employment at a facility you do not want to work in. Only Correctional Officers with a minimum of 18 months seniority can submit a request to transfer to another facility. Transfer selection is based on seniority from all requests submitted statewide.