LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) -- The Louisville Metro Department of Corrections is looking to hire dozens of new officers for its next training academy as it prepares for a wave of retirements this year.

It's a tough job, these are the people running our jails and with the opioid crisis, there's a constant need for help. LMDC directors say it takes a strong body and mind to become a corrections officer and they're encouraging anyone interested in the criminal justice system to apply.

“You make sure everyone's getting what they're supposed to have which is getting fed, seeing the counselor, making sure everyone's doing OK,” says Metro Corrections officer Andrew Young.

Young works on recruitment and development for LMDC. He’s been with the department for 16 years and says working as a corrections officer can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

“The growth, I guess, seeing them outside of jail and they're like hey thanks, one guy even told me thanks for getting on him, it changed his life,” said Young.

Young’s 16 years with the department is not uncommon. Department directors say many of their officers stay for life, creating waves of retirements and in preparation for a big exit this summer, LMDC is looking for recruits.

“We've got some opportunities for individuals who are thinking about a criminal justice career and we just want to say come on over,” said Steven Durham, LMDC Assistant Director.

Durham wants people to know there's a lot of misconceptions about corrections officers.

“They see on television what jails look like and look like hard surfaces, and noisy and loud and dirty and they're not,” said Durham.

Durham says LMDC plays a key role in the criminal justice system and a very different one than police officers.

“They're arresting the person and when they come to us, the community expects us to arrest the problem and we're trying hard to do that, it's part of our mission to assess an offenders' needs and then develop programs for them,” said Durham.

LMDC now partners with Spaulding University, a collaboration that has changed the curriculum of the training academy, focusing on evidence-based practices and compassion.

“Helping officers understand human behavior as well as their role of how to be rehabilitative when they have interactions with inmates,” said Mariya Leyderman, a forensic psychology consultant with Spaulding University.

Despite common fears about interactions with inmates, Young says corrections officers have the opportunity to become role models and build life-long relationships with inmates, even outside of the jail.

“They might hand you their baby,” says Young.

LMDC's academy runs nine weeks long and the next one will be held in August. Anyone who completes the academy gets 12 college credits.

The starting pay for a corrections officer is more than $16 an hour, you must be 21-years-old to apply.

If interested, fill out an application here.