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The National Institute for Jail Operations developed the Professional Certification Program in response to the need to provide a respected national certification for individuals looking for a process that involved legal-based curriculum by an organization which supports and defends their agencies’ worthy goals and objectives.   NIJO Professional Certification is a professional designation – earned not issued – for jail and detention officers, supervisors, administrators and sheriffs who have demonstrated to possess thmodel2e requisite understanding, knowledge, skills, experience and abilities to function to a specific level.

NIJO provides three distinct levels of professional certification for individuals seeking for career development and advancement in their field.

Certification requirements are set by the NIJO Certification Board.  The requirements vary for each designated certification level* but generally include background prerequisites, work experience, legal-based training and education coupled with testing to ensure comprehension of critical areas of focus. Civil Liability & Risk Management (1-6* credit hours required)

  • Corrections Law (2-8* credit hours required)
  • Inmate Management (5-16* credit hours required)
  • Inmate Communication (2-5* credit hours required)
  • Inmate Safety, Security and Welfare (3-8* credit hours required)
  • Inmate Health Care (1-4* credit hours required)
  • Use of Force & Restraints (2-8* credit hours required)
  • Religious Exercise, Marriage and LGBTI Issues (1-4* credit hours required)
  • Searches (1-4* credit hours required)
  • Emergency Planning and Response (0-4* credit hours required)
  • Personnel Management (2-8* credit hours required)

The NIJO Certification Board may consider trainings or courses not listed under specific requirements to meet the certified hour requirements on a case-by-case basis as requested by the applicant. Note that all training towards Certification must be corrections specific training and must be completed after the application is started (IE, police training, academy, previous dated training records will not be awarded as applicable training courses). Required hours toward certification also come at the individual training costs and is not included in the certification application fee (this includes DACOTA, which is not included with certification).

Due to the degree of scrutiny and litigation correctional officers and administrators face regularly, NIJO emphasizes the importance of certification programs based on what the law requires rather than best practices that do not promote practices that are constitutionally safe.  Because liability and risk management is intertwined with training, NIJO requires 100% comprehension testing for certification.  This provides the individual and agency with an added level of confidence in defending itself against frivolous litigation attacks on incomplete or inadequate training.

To ensure efficiency and keep the cost of certification as low as possible, the certification registration process is done entirely online.  When the applicant has met and provided documentation of all the necessary requirements, the NIJO Certification Board will verify the information for final approval.  Applicants are notified by email upon approval with recognition of the achievement.

There is a one-time nonrefundable application fee which varies for each designation level.  This fee covers the administrative costs of operating and maintaining the program.  It does not include any incurred costs associated with meeting the specified requirements for certification (including the online training program, DACOTA).   If you are interested in signing up and paying for DACOTA, please click here.

(Please note that if you obtain the highest level (NCCE), you will effectively obtain the lower levels as well (NCCS and NCCO) so there is no need to pay for all three certifications and seek additional training hours separately.)

If you are using another NIJO service, you may be eligible to receive a 50% discount on your certification. You are required to obtain your NIJO Certification by completing the requirements in 30 months from the date of submission of your application.   An applicant who does not complete the certification process will not be given a refund.


Achieving NIJO Certification is a significant accomplishment and reflects intense training, effort, experience and comprehension so that the individual confidently knows and can follow clearly established laws and procedures in fulfilling his or her duties within a correctional facility.

Agencies are encouraged and may choose to recognize individuals who have earned the distinction of being NIJO Certified.  The accomplishment is also proudly recognized by NIJO as follows:

  • Matted and individualized NIJO Certificate of Achievement
  • NIJO Certification Pin (may be worn on uniform as approved by administration)
  • Official NIJO Letter of Commendation for Achievement to recipient
  • Name of recipient listed on NIJO website (with agency if desired)
  • Recognition at upcoming NIJO Regional Conference (nearest the recipient)