COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — The South Carolina Department of Corrections is hiring.

State prison officials said pay increases and age requirement changes have helped make their open jobs more attractive to job seekers.

Earlier this year, Governor Henry McMaster and state lawmakers allocated more than $30 million in the state budget for state law enforcement raises. This included correctional officers at state prisons.

SCDC Director Bryan Stirling said, “We have seen a significant increase in applications and the number of people on boarding.” He said numbers have nearly doubled.

Starting salaries for entry level correctional officers range anywhere from $39,000 to $49,000 a year depending on which facility you work at. Director Stirling says with bonuses and overtime pay, an officer can make more than $50,000 in their first year.

Recently, state lawmakers lowered the age requirement for correctional officers to 18.

With more officers in prisons, Stirling said will help keep the facilities safer, help prepare prisoners for life back in society and make South Carolina safer.

Stirling said they have increased pay for other employees like nurses and maintenance workers as well.

He said their goal with these increases is to recruit and retain as many employees as possible. “I’ve said it before in committee meetings, we can’t hire our way out this current situation but we need to retain our way out this.”