"I've always had an interest in law enforcement," Walton Smith and his family decided now is a good time to take the plunge into a career as a corrections officer; maybe working in parole: "I really like working with juveniles, catching the behavior at an early age."
He's looking forward to a new start with a salary around $40,000 a year, and he'll have company; he's joining 187 others from all across the state graduating Friday.
It's become a growing field, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections; expecting to add hundreds of jobs over the next decade, on top of the 260 a year opening up because of retirement. It's a spark of hope after years of a hiring freeze during the recession.
"We're taking a more aggressive role," and it's not because there could be more criminals to take care of, but a new effort to re-open facilities, and keep a closer eye on criminals. "We just re-opened a corrections facility in Muskegon, so there's about 300 employees that will go to that."
There are about 7,000 correction officers in the state now, which fills a wide range of positions dealing with prisoners, and trying to rehabilitate many of them back into society.
"You actually make a difference," said Smith. The part he and his family are most looking forward too.
For more information on how to qualify for one of these jobs, visit www.michigan.gov/corrections.
There are also a couple career fairs coming up where you can get more information at the Kellogg Community College.
Both are Wednesday, November 14, 3-5 p.m.
One is in KCC's Lane-Thomas Building, room 303 at 450 North Ave., Battle Creek.
The other, KCC's Grahl Center at 125 Seeley St., Coldwater.