FLINT — The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) has named Mott Community College (MCC) an approved training site for the Michigan Corrections Training Program Academy.
“We are excited to be one of only six accredited sites statewide to offer the program,” said Chuck Thiel, director of the Southern Lakes Branch Campus in Fenton, where the training will be conducted. “The Michigan Department of Correction and the Michigan Correctional Officers Training Council (MCOTC) are working with four-year colleges and community colleges statewide to offer the 320-hour training program and recruit candidates to meet the high demand for corrections personnel,” said Thiel.
“There is currently a big hiring push in Michigan corrections due to a large number of retirements,” said Thiel. “Up to 2,500 corrections officer vacancies are expected to exist in the next five years. The Michigan Department of Corrections is hiring up to 30 people per month to work in its facilities. It is a huge area of job growth.”
Not only is the corrections field growing, the demand for female corrections officers is extremely high. “It is a great field for women,” said Jimmie Baber, coordinator for the Criminal Justice and Corrections Programs, “there are many opportunities for women at facilities that house female offenders as well as other facilities in the Department of Corrections.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates the median corrections officer salary in Michigan during 2012 was $50,800.
MCC will begin offering the 320- hour Corrections Training Program Academy in the Winter 2015 semester. The Academy is required training for individuals interested in entry level corrections officer jobs at state facilities. MCC is the only college in Michigan with college credit tied to the program, which enhances MCC’s academic programs in Corrections.
“We developed our Corrections curriculum to enable students to qualify to apply for the Corrections Officer Training Program and earn college credit toward an associate’s degree as a foundation for career advancement,” said Mary Cusack, Dean of the Fine Arts and Social Sciences Division at MCC. Upon successful completion of the Corrections Academy training, students will earn 13 college credits toward an Associate of Applied Science in Corrections.
Applicants to the Corrections Officer Training Program Academy must first complete 15 credits of approved college coursework. Then they must receive approval from the MDOC to attend the training academy. Applicants to the program who already have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree must also get approval from MDOC to qualify for the training academy.
Once accepted into the Corrections Officer Training Program academy, candidates must complete six weeks (280 hours) of training, which includes classroom content about corrections processes and procedures, physical conditioning and defensive tactics, and equipment and firearm training. Upon successful completion, candidates are offered a position at a state correctional facility. When they accept the position, they become employees of the Department of Corrections, and receive two additional weeks of paid training through the college.
Upon completion of the final two weeks of training, candidates report to their employer/facility for two months of on-the-job training. The final step is an eight-month probationary employment period to complete the initial year of employment, according to Jai Deagan, Michigan Correctional Officers Training Council Liaison.
“The great thing about this program is that you don’t have to be done with school to get a job,” said Steven LaMay, of Flint, a Criminal Justice student at MCC. He recently completed the training program and began work as a corrections officer at the Thumb Area Correctional Facility in Lapeer while continuing his education. “These programs enable you to get a job and continue to go to school to finish a degree program,” he said.
“Once a student has completed the academy and the 15 credit hours of course work, they can complete an Associate’s degree at MCC through online classes,” said Cusack. She and Baber developed the MCC curriculum for the Corrections degree to give students more opportunity for career advancement and career transition.
“If students take a second semester at MCC while waiting for approval from MDOC to be a Corrections Officer Training Program candidate, and then they complete the Corrections Academy, they will have only 21 credits remaining to earn an associate’s degree,” said Cusack.