CDCR Time Capsule 1957: Correctional Officer position, pay described in 1950s

A CO gets a shot, undated.

(Editor’s note: A job description for a Correctional Officer was posted July 23, 1957. The bulletin also included application instructions, pay scale and information on the examination. The position was clearly stated to be “open to men only.” In the early 1970s, women were allowed to become correctional officers. Today, women are in every role in CDCR from custody to leadership. There was also an age limit of 45. Today, there is no upper age limit. To read a current bulletin, visit

Issued July 23, 1957

Correctional Officer

The job

You will maintain order and supervise the conduct of prison inmates in all phases of their activities. Your duties will include overseeing inmates on work details; accompanying inmates outside institution grounds; censoring mail; supervising visits to inmates; and counseling and endeavoring to modify anti-social attitudes and behaviors of inmates. You must be willing to work at night and to report for duty at any time that emergencies arise.


The starting salary is $358 a month with a maximum of $436. A merit salary adjustment to $376 is granted after six months satisfactory service. One year later the salary is increased to $395.


The Correctional Officer classification is the entering level of a career service. After two years of employment, promotion is offered to Correctional Sergeant with a maximum salary of $505. Promotion to higher classes is possible with further experience. Promotion is by competitive examination on a merit basis.

These salaries are effective July 1, 1957.


You must meet the requirements described below.

Age limit: Not to exceed 45 years at time of examination.

Experience: Two years full-time paid working experience. (Military service is considered as qualifying experience.) College training may be substituted for the required experience on a year-for-year basis.


Education: Equivalent to completion of the twelfth grade. Additional qualifying experience may be substituted for a maximum of two years of this educational requirement on a basis of one year of experience being equivalent to one year of education.

How to apply

Applications are available at the institutions listed below and at State Personnel Board offices in Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Francisco. (Editor’s note: today applications are online. More information can be found at

Examinations are held at these locations where there is a need for Correctional Officers and employment lists are not sufficient.

Correctional institutions

  • Deuel Vocational Institution, near Tracy, San Joaquin County
  • California State Prison at Folsom, near Sacramento
  • California Institution for Men at Chino, San Bernardino County
  • California State Prison at San Quentin, Marin County
  • California State Prison at Soledad, Monterey County
  • California Men’s Colony, San Luis Obispo
  • Tehachapi Branch, California Institution for Men, Kern County
  • California Medical Facility, near Vacaville, Solano County

The Examination

Written test – You need to earn a passing score in a written test before being interviewed. If you are successful in the entire examination, your score on the written test will determine your standing on the employment list. The written test will be of the objective type and will cover these topics: Ability to control and maintain discipline among inmates; ability to following directions; ability to analyze situations.

Interview – If you successfully complete the written test, you must qualify in a personal interview, which will cover education, experience and personal qualifications. Required personal qualifications include willingness to work at night and to report for duty at any time emergencies arise; understanding of inmates; satisfactory record as a law-abiding citizen; leadership ability; tact; emotional stability; good personal and social adjustment for correctional work; courage; alertness; and other personal qualifications essential in good public employees.


10 Responses

  1. Concern person Thursday, March 30, 2017 / 10:17 am

    Overall back in the 50s and 60s, you could get more for your dollar due to Franklin Roosevelt putting price controls on goods and services back in the 1930s.

  2. Frank Walker Tuesday, March 28, 2017 / 2:49 pm

    Interesting article. The pay,wow. Can’t believe what those officers made back then. I would like to thank the officers who paved the way for today’s officers. Excellent article. Thank you.

  3. Ed Sunday, March 12, 2017 / 11:06 pm

    Funny how the arrows and brackets are hand done with stencils…and probably the title.

  4. Leticia Thursday, March 9, 2017 / 1:28 pm

    Wow! No PFT required at that time? No idea why the requirement was implemented, as many of us get fit only to pass test and lose interest after that. Excellent article!

  5. ARAGON Thursday, March 9, 2017 / 11:40 am

    It’s always nice to read the time capsules. Great article.

  6. Leonard Hawkins Thursday, March 9, 2017 / 10:44 am

    Great article! Love those time capsule moments! Keep in mind that the average yearly imcome for a family of 4 was about $5,000 in 1957. Putting those officers, at top pay grade, smack in the middle of the middle class with one income earner. We only need to make about $72,000 annualy to be there today.

  7. M. Tillotson Thursday, March 9, 2017 / 9:54 am

    Nice article, thank you. Would be interested in seeing a scanned copy of this job description. Might be a nice touch to the complement the officer’s photo.

    • Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor Thursday, March 9, 2017 / 10:17 am

      Excellent suggestion. We have added the original bulletin to the bottom of the article. Thank you for reading.

  8. Lisa Thursday, March 9, 2017 / 9:27 am

    Interesting article. The job description has expanded but is essentially the same but the pay,WOW! Wonder what the Officers of the 1950s think of what we get paid now, factoring in the time difference of course. Much appreciation for the path they paved for our profession.

    • David Friday, March 10, 2017 / 10:38 am

      Adjusting the pay range for a CO in 1957 to 2017 using CPI-U gives a pay range of $3,093.82 – $3,767.89 in 2017.

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