What Test Do You Have to Take to Work at a Federal Prison?

BOP jobs are available in administration, inmate care and inmate custody.
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The Federal Bureau of Prisons employs a large staff of people to supervise inmates who have been convicted of crimes or are awaiting trial for violating federal laws. Women accounted for 27 percent of BOP staff, as of early 2014. Getting a job in the federal prison system isn't necessarily easy. You must complete multiple steps in the hiring process, including several tests and specialized training.

Background Tests

To be considered suitable for employment with the BOP, you must be a U.S. citizen, show that you are less than 37 years old and agree to a background investigation. The background check includes law enforcement and criminal record checks, credit checks and a review of personal references. Every applicant is investigated and reviewed on a case-by-case basis, which means that it is possible to get a job with bad credit or another issue if you are otherwise able to demonstrate good moral character or proper conduct.

Medical and Physical Exams

A medical and physical exam is required to work in a federal correctional institution. The medical portion of the exam includes a review of your medical history. The physical portion is performed by a federal medical employee. Height, weight and disability are not considered during this part of the hiring process. The medical and physical exam is only meant to test your ability to perform your required job duties. You must also pass a drug test.

Written Test

After passing the background investigation and physical and medical exam, you must become familiar with the facility where you will work and receive training in inmate supervision, BOP policies and facility procedures. A written academic exam will test your knowledge of policies and procedures, and a passing score is required to work at a federal prison.

Physical Abilities Test

Within the first 60 days of your job appointment, you must attend training in firearms and self defense at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia. You must also take the BOP's Physical Abilities Test, or PAT. The PAT tests physical capabilities, including your ability to use firearms; hear and detect movement; see from a distance; smell drugs; carry and drag heavy objects; walk and stand for extended periods; and perform self-defense moves. Job candidates must also show that they can complete an obstacle course in 58 seconds, climb a ladder and retrieve an item within seven seconds, run one-quarter mile and apply handcuffs within two minutes and 35 seconds. They must be able to climb 108 steps with a weighted belt within 45 seconds and drag a 75-pound dummy 694 feet in three minutes.

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