Life After Release

How to Get a Job with a Felony: 10 Tips

If you’ve committed a felony and have served your time, you’re elated to have your freedom, but you probably get down when you have to think about getting a job. You aren’t alone. One out of every ten people in the United States has a felony on their record. Most of these people all find jobs, but it’s up to you to find the best job in the shortest amount of time. It can be stressful, but it’s not impossible.

While finding a great job won’t be easy, there are many possibilities for making a good living. Many different industries hire felons, and even if you don’t find a job right away, you have countless other ways to contribute to the workforce. Below you’ll find ten tips for how to get a job with a felony.

1. Be Realistic

If you have a felony on your record, there are plenty of well-paying jobs out there for you. But some posts just aren’t going to be as attainable. If you’ve always wanted to be a schoolteacher, it probably isn’t happening now. It’s time to be realistic about what jobs you have the best chance of being hired for and can excel at, and which are only going to delay and detract you from getting a job.

Write down what you think are your best skills. In what subjects do you have the most knowledge? Also, think about your passions. If you can do anything related to what you’re passionate about, you’ll work hard to get there and will enjoy the job more while you’re working. These areas are also the ones you likely have the most knowledge, and therefore can be the most marketable for your future job.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

You have a lot of options when it comes to resources that will help you find a job. Even if you just want to stay in the house, you can find job postings for felons online. And if you’re willing to venture outside, you can find associations in your area that help secure you a new job.

3. Look Out for Scams

Scammers prey on people with limited options, so always have your guard up when it comes to job postings that could be fake and just want to steal your information. There are many legitimate jobs for felons available, but if it looks too good to be true, it’s best to be cautious.


4. Learn a New Skill

Finding a job is all about having a marketable skill. Maybe you’ve always loved computers and technology. You could potentially parlay that passion into a career as a coder if you took the time to learn how to code online.

You can find an endless amount of free education on the internet, no matter what the new skill is that you want to learn. Look for skills that are in demand and acquire one. If you have a desirable skill set, especially working online, you’ll be able to make a living even with a felony on your record.

5. Work with Your Hands

Sometimes it feels good to do manual labor. Many jobs that require manual labor pay decently and even provide a paid workout.

Become an Electrician

Everyone needs the services of a quality electrician. Most companies will let you start working as an electrician with a high school degree, and you can make around $55,000 per year. You can also eventually go out on your own and start your own business as an electrician. You will have learned a lifelong skill that will always be in demand and one that you can use at home as well.

Become a Carpenter

As a carpenter, you can work both outside and inside and enjoy the rustic smell of freshly cut wood. You will also learn valuable skills that will benefit you for the rest of your life. Carpenters make around $45,000 a year, and your salary can increase with experience.

Become a Welder

You probably never considered welding, did you? Welders, on average, make around $40,000 a year, and that salary can range from as low as $25,000 to as high as $60,000+. You’ll have to take part in training, and the company may require you to pay for the training if you quit. But if you’re committed to the job, you can secure steady pay. If you live near the coast, you can also weld boats for as much as $30 an hour.


Work in Construction

If you want to tear things down, build stuff up, and operate heavy machinery, a job in construction may be your ticket to a paycheck. You’ll make about $15 an hour but can make up to $33 an hour with years of experience.

To become a construction worker, you’ll need a high school diploma, and that’s it. You’ll receive training on the job, and you may also find that your time as a construction worker prepares you for future employment in more specialized roles.

Work in HVAC

The demand for HVAC technicians is on the rise, and you can start making around $47,000 when you land your first job. The educational requirement is a GED to get accepted into a specific training school. Some programs can be done in as little as six months and reward an HVAC technician certificate. Other more advanced programs can take two years to earn an associate degree in HVAC. The majority of technicians simply have the certification.

Depending on what state you live in, you’ll have to get a professional license as your next step. Also, depending on your degree, you may need to take part in an apprenticeship before you can become a certified HVAC technician.

Work in an Oil Field

If you’re really into hard labor, or you’re simply out of options, an oil field job might be the perfect fit. An oil rig operator makes about $50,000 a year, and the demand for oil is as high as its ever been.

To become a rig operator, you must be over 18 years old, be physically fit, and pass a physical exam before you can be hired. You must also work for multiple days in a row without weekend breaks and expect to work at night as well. Oil rig workers typically have a background as a mechanic, or at least show skill as a tradesman.

There’s also room to expand your salary greatly if you become a petroleum engineer. For this job, you would have to have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, but if you do, you can make around $65 an hour in this role.

6. Secure References

You’re likely going to need references for a job, so finding a couple of quality references should be at the top of your to-do list as you start your job search. Think of any non-relative that can vouch for you as a hard-working and reliable person. Choose wisely when finding a reference.


7. Join the Army

Yes, you still may be able to join the Army even if you’ve committed a felony. As long as you have not committed one of the following crimes, there is a chance that you can serve:

  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Breaking and entering
  • Multiple DUI charges
  • Credit card fraud
  • Spousal abuse
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape

If you’ve committed any other felony, you have the opportunity to enlist in the Army and completely turn around your life. A felon likely does not have a better chance to change the way society views them other than joining and serving in the Army. However, it won’t be easy.

The Army has moral character standards, and committing a felony, of course, doesn’t help with that. However, it is possible to get the Army to waive its enlistment standards if you meet other physical and mental requirements.

The first step is to find an Army recruiter in your area. Let them know that you’re interested in joining and inquire about the next steps. If you leave a strong first impression, your recruiter may be more likely to look past the felony.

8. Expunge Your Felony

If it is at all possible to have your felony expunged, you must look into this as a possibility. If you can successfully get your felony expunged, it will be stricken from your record, and you will be able to say “no” when asked if you’ve ever been convicted of a felony. This option is most viable for people that committed what would be considered a minor felony or were underage when they committed the crime.

Also, only state convictions can be expunged. If your crime was committed at the federal level, there is no current avenue to expungement. Also, if your offense was murder, rape, sexual battery, involved a child, or included serious weapons charges, you cannot have that felony expunged. And if you’re applying for a job in law enforcement, for a professional license, or a job with kids, you must still disclose the prior felony even if it gets erased from your record.

To start the process, you’ll probably want to get a lawyer that can help you out. A petition must be filed in court, and you may have to pay a fee. The next step is the court will get in contact with people who were involved in the case and ask for their opinion. If their response is satisfactory, a judge will order a hearing. Or if the crime was minor and you have shown substantial rehabilitation, the judge may approve the expungement without requesting a hearing.

If you do have a hearing, you must be well-prepared to show what you’ve done to improve as a person in the time since the crime. If there is any new information about the crime that would help your case, you’ll have a chance to present new evidence. If there is any member of law enforcement or prosecutors who disagree with the expungement, they’ll have an opportunity to express their opinions as well.

After everyone has been heard, the judge will render a decision. If the judge does not grant expungement, you are allowed to file an appeal.

9. Start Your Own Business

Starting your own business isn’t easy, but it’s the fastest way to start working. And what’s better than working for yourself? If you’re struggling to find a job, consider what you’re passionate about and look to see if you can turn your knowledge of that subject into a career.

Are you especially handy? You can start your own handyman business. Or you can find a handyman service that employs multiple people.

Here are 15 different businesses you could start:

  • Bicycle Repair: Let’s start with an oddball: bicycle repair. Bicycles aren’t going anywhere, and bikes are also bound to break down. Therefore, the job of a bicycle repair person isn’t going anywhere. All you need to start is a set of tools, a bike, and YouTube.
  • Boat Cleaner: If you live near the coast or want to live near the coast, consider becoming a boat cleaner. To start, simply check out your local marina and see if there’s any need for an extra hand.
  • Drive for Uber: Lyft will immediately reject an application from anyone with a felony on their record. Uber, on the other hand, only cares if the felony conviction was in the last seven years.
  • Kids Party Planner: Do you live in an area where people have ridiculous parties for kids? Even the tamest of kid’s birthday parties usually have a lot more going into them than you’d realize. On average, an American family spends $500 per birthday party. And you can be the one collecting the check if you start your own kids party planning business. You’ll need a lot of supplies, but as long as you’re organized and can market yourself, you can likely make this job pay off.
  • Become a Dog Walker: The dog walking industry is booming and is especially thriving in big cities. If you live in a major metro area, there is likely high demand for dog walkers. If you like dogs, this can be an easy and lucrative job. Dog walkers can charge around $15-$20 for a 20-minute walk, and up to $30 for a 30-minute walk. And if you’re walking two dogs for someone, you can charge an additional $10.
  • Become a YouTube Star: Hey, you can always dream, right? Seriously though, content creators on YouTube can earn a well-paying wage or exponentially more than that.
  • Repair Electronics: If you have experience fixing electronics, you can quickly turn that into a business.
  • Become a Home Inspector: Being a home inspector requires you to have expertise in all the elements of a home. But if you have that, it can be a flexible and well-paying job that you’ll enjoy.
  • Become a Personal Trainer: If you’re a workout buff and a people person, you could excel as a personal trainer. This is a job that’s always in demand and one that you can do on your own if you find enough clients. Create a website, put out some ads, and try to attract new clients. As your clientele grows, word of mouth should help to expand your business.
  • Start a Property Management Business: The life of a property manager is no cupcake. But if you do your job well, people will take notice, and your business will grow.
  • Teach Music Lessons: If you know how to play an instrument well, and you think you have the aptitude for teaching, teaching music lessons can be an enjoyable and rewarding job.
  • Become a Landscaper: Landscapers get to spend most of their working hours outside, either performing the labor or directing where everything goes. People always need the lawns mowed, garden beds weeded, and yards tidied. During the winter, you can pivot to a snow plowing business, and in the other non-summer months, you’ll be doing fall and spring cleanup.
  • Clean Gutters:  No one wants to get on their roof and risk their life to pull out wet leaves. But it’s a job that must be done. If you aren’t afraid of heights, there’s not much you’ll need other than a business card to start a gutter cleaning business.
  • Become a Massage Therapist: Becoming a massage therapist involves nothing more than getting certified. For around $5000, you can take a certification class, or earn an associate degree in massage therapy.
  • Start a Moving Service: People are always moving, so this job will never go out of demand. People also often wait until the last second to secure a mover. So when all of the well-known moving companies are booked up, you can reel in all the procrastinators to get a head start on your business. Encourage Yelp reviews and ask for testimonies you can put on your website.

10. Work Hard

There are no shortcuts in life. But there is one path to success that anyone can follow: work hard, and you will be rewarded.

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