What Kinds of Jobs Can You Get in Prison? 

What Kinds of Jobs Can You Get in Prison? 
By Richard McDonald

Having a job in prison is not only a requirement, but it can also be a great way to pass your time. There are different jobs available to work while you are in prison that can serve as experience once you are released. 

Are all of them full-time jobs? Do they all require 40 hours of work each week? 

No. Some positions, such as the Unit Orderly position, require around 10 hours of work per week. The Unit Orderly position involves cleaning the bathrooms, mopping the floors in the dorms and cleaning the TV rooms and stairwells. The Unit Orderly position is a sought-after job, though it pays the least.

Similarly, Medical and Dental Assistants are orderlies within the medical facilities. These workers take out the medical waste and are in charge of cleaning the medical rooms within the prison.

Are all of the jobs inside the prison? 

No. There are multiple jobs that take you outside of the prison, even for the day. Jobs in groundskeeping and facilities involve doing work both inside and outside of the prison.

A job in facilities involves doing maintenance in and outside of the prison building. Facilities workers can work in HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning), plumbing, general maintenance, pest control and more.

Groundskeeping, on the other hand, is a job where you will be working outside most of the time. In this role, you will work in landscaping and sometimes horticulture.

Image courtesy of MariuszBlach via Getty Images on iStock.

Are there prison jobs that pay better than others? 

Yes. Working in the commissary is a good-paying job with a good schedule. The commissary workers handle the shopping requests of people in the prison.

The biggest benefit of working in the commissary is that you are able to shop for yourself multiple times a week. The general population only gets to shop once a week.

Additionally, if inventory is low on an item, the workers in the commissary have first bid. However, the commissary department is always heavily staffed with guards, watching the workers at all times. 

Do all of the jobs in prison have the same schedule? 

No. As mentioned above, commissary jobs have a good schedule. In general, they have a morning schedule that usually finishes in the afternoon.

Other jobs, such as the food-service jobs, start very early in the morning. Food service workers are responsible for dishwashing, cleaning tables and serving food.

If you’re on the morning shift, you may need to report to work as early as 4 a.m. Afternoon food service workers come in after breakfast and work until dinner is over. Food-service workers are sometimes allowed to listen to music while they work, which is not the case for other prison jobs. 

Are some prison jobs more sought-after than others? 

Yes. Working in recreation is a job that many people go after. Recreation workers organize sporting competitions, such as billiard tournaments, basketball competitions and softball games. This role also organizes contests and oversees the music room and the crafts departments. T

his role is great for people who like to organize events and who don’t mind a bit of manual labor. In some prisons, recreation workers are in charge of maintaining basketball courts, tennis courts and any other outdoor recreational areas. This can include cleaning, organizing and scrubbing down these areas. 

Are there any other types of prison jobs?

Yes. Some prisons have jobs in the laundry areas, work in the mailroom and others. The types of jobs available in your prison depend on where you are housed. 

The Takeaway:

There are different jobs within each prison that you can work during your sentence. Many of them are full-time jobs and require 40 hours of work each week. Others require less hours. Not all prison jobs pay the same, and some are in higher demand than others. What kinds of jobs your prison will have depend on where you are housed and need.

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