Sparks began his career with the Department of Corrections in July 1989 as a correctional officer at the Western Kentucky Farm Center in Eddyville. He transferred to EKCC in May 1990. He was promoted to classification and treatment officer in October 1990, again promoted to corrections unit administrator I in July 1996 and finally promoted to corrections unit administrator II in June 2003.
Sparks has previously served as litigation coordinator, acting nurse service administrator and a hostage negotiation team member. He was recognized as employee of the month in April 1996, supervisor of the month in both December 1997 and October 2001 and also supervisor of the second quarter in 2006.