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34 Jobs for Felons That Offer a Good Second Chance

By Publisher
| Last Updated January 3, 2024

Need a second chance after serving time? Good, felon-friendly jobs are available with the government and various companies. But you need to know how to get hired as an ex-offender. That includes deciding on a trade or other type of career to pursue, getting extra training if you need it, taking advantage of programs for ex-convicts, and more.

Millions of Americans have felony convictions. If you're one of them, you know that good jobs for felons aren't necessarily easy to come by. Securing employment is often the biggest challenge for ex-offenders and felons in this country. Opportunities can seem very sparse.

Even so, finding felony-friendly jobs is not impossible. Many ex-convicts are offered second chances, and you can join them. But first, it's important to remember a couple of things: Your experience is not uncommon. And the potential consequences of not persisting in your job search can be dire.

Bureau of Justice Statistics data from October 2020 shows that while the total U.S. imprisonment rate decreased, there were still more than 1.4 million incarcerated people in the United States. According to a 2018 Bureau of Justice Statistics report, about two-thirds of all ex-offenders who've been released from state prisons end up getting arrested within three years of their release. Yet, former federal prisoners who secure employment after release are more likely to integrate into society successfully.

That means you are much less likely to ever return to prison if you can find reliable employment. For felons, almost any legitimate job is better than the alternative of turning to crime. The job-search process can sometimes feel unfair and frustrating, but those who persist and know where to look often discover new reasons for hope and optimism about their futures. Jobs that hire felons may not be well advertised, but they are available if you make the extra effort necessary to find and qualify for them.

So, what jobs can felons get? Probably more than you're thinking. Some options require little to no post-secondary training. Many programs in the skilled trades will set you up for a paid apprenticeship, so you can earn a decent income while learning and gaining experience in your trade of choice.* You can also learn about:

Note: Not all employment opportunities within the following occupational areas are felon-friendly. They always depend on the policies and attitudes of each individual employer. And some of them depend on the vocational licensing regulations within your state. Certain felony convictions may disqualify you from some occupations.

1. Mobile App Developer

CNN Money has named this occupation as the best job in America. And it also can be one of the highest-paying jobs for felons who want a fresh start. The technology sector is filled with a lot of open-minded employers. And since demand is so high and many companies are having a hard time filling open positions for mobile application developers, you may be able to find some great opportunities if you can show that you have the necessary skills. Plus, doesn't making apps for iOS or Android devices sound like a lot of fun?

  • Median hourly wage: $52.41
  • Typical qualifications: Associate or bachelor's degree

2. Sales Representative for Wholesale Products

All kinds of manufacturers and wholesale distributors need hardworking sales reps who are good at promoting their products and closing deals with companies and other organizations. So if you're outgoing and don't mind traveling or making a lot of phone calls, then this career may be a good option. And the art of selling can often be learned through online courses. Just keep in mind that many sales jobs for convicts will only be available to those who don't have felonies on their records for crimes like theft or violence.

  • Median hourly wage: $30.24
  • Typical qualifications: High school diploma or higher

3. Web Designer or Developer

Some jobs for people with felonies on their criminal records offer the possibility of self-employment. Web development is one of them. Think about it: You can design and code websites at home, on a freelance basis, for as many clients as you can handle. And being self-employed means that you probably won't have to pass any pre-employment background checks.

  • Median hourly wage: $37.65
  • Typical qualifications: Associate or bachelor's degree

4. Film or Video Editor

This occupation might be one of the most engaging jobs that felons can get. It requires creativity and special technical abilities, but you can probably learn what you need to know at an art school or career college. Plus, the opportunities may grow in number as more and more companies choose to market themselves through professional online videos. And this type of work is something that you can do on a freelance basis in case you're worried about background checks.

  • Median hourly wage: $29.02
  • Typical qualifications: Associate or bachelor's degree

5. Writer

Here's one of the potentially high-paying jobs for felons that can be done from home. All kinds of businesses, publishers, and other organizations need quality writing for things like sales and marketing materials, advertising copy, online content, and magazine articles. Some companies hire in-house writers, so you may have a background check run on you. However, many successful writers are self-employed, which removes that obstacle.

  • Median hourly wage: $33.42
  • Typical qualifications: Bachelor's degree is often preferred but not always necessary

6. Marketing Manager

People who have different perspectives on the world than the average business professional develop some of the best marketing strategies. And organizations of every variety need effective marketing, which is often derived from fresh ideas and unusual insights. It's why second-chance jobs for felons sometimes become available in this field, including the exciting Internet marketing area. By refining your creative and analytical thinking abilities, you may be able to offer your distinctive ideas to this field.

  • Median hourly wage: $64.12
  • Typical qualifications: Bachelor's degree

7. Computer Network Systems Administrator

The broad field of information technology (IT) has been known to provide some good jobs for convicted felons with no history of fraud, theft, violence, or computer-related crimes. So if you meet that criteria and already have some experience with computers or a strong interest in learning more about them, then this may be a path you should consider.

Nowadays, almost every company needs a fast, secure, and reliable in-house network and stable Internet connectivity. With the proper skills and credentials, your future may involve testing, analyzing, and troubleshooting various types of computer networks and minimizing the times when they are offline.

  • Median hourly wage: $38.75
  • Typical qualifications: Associate degree

8. Mechanical Engineering Technician

Some prisoners get the opportunity to learn mechanical skills while serving out their sentences. That's why the field of mechanical engineering technology often provides suitable jobs for ex-felons. With additional vocational training after your release, you can pursue opportunities that involve helping engineers develop, modify, and test various kinds of mechanical equipment and machinery.

  • Median hourly wage: $29.07
  • Typical qualifications: Associate degree

9. Electrician

Electrician training programs offer another path to secure and good-paying jobs for ex-cons. You just need to investigate the licensing requirements in your state since certain felony convictions may disqualify you. However, trades such as electrical work are worth looking into. You'll need extra training to become a journeyman electrician, but most of that training will be paid. Plus, it's possible to find electrical contracting companies that will hire felons since some of them are owned by ex-convicts who want to give others the same opportunities they had.

  • Median hourly wage: $28.87
  • Typical qualifications: Vocational certificate and paid apprenticeship

10. Plumber

The residential and commercial plumbing industry sometimes provides good job opportunities for felons. However, before starting plumbing training, you should check your state's vocational licensing requirements to ensure your specific convictions don't disqualify you. For instance, some states may ban people from pursuing the residential plumbing trade if they have prior convictions for violent crimes, theft, or sexual offenses. But some plumbing contractors are willing to hire ex-cons if they truly want to learn the trade and will stay loyal to their companies for several years.

  • Median hourly wage: $28.79
  • Typical qualifications: Vocational certificate and paid apprenticeship

11. Wind Turbine Technician

Do you have a fear of heights? If not, you may want to consider going after a career in which you get to climb tall wind turbines to make repairs and install or maintain their sophisticated components. Electric power utilities and wind turbine manufacturers may not currently appear on a typical list of companies that hire felons, but they are still worth contacting to see whether training for this career would be a good idea.

After all, only one other occupation in America is expected to grow faster. (From 2021 to 2031, employment in this trade could rise by 44 percent.*) As a result, some wind energy employers may be willing to hire people who've served time for non-violent felonies to help meet their demand for new technicians.

  • Median hourly wage: $27.05
  • Typical qualifications: Associate degree

12. Commercial Diver

Potential careers for convicted felons don't get much more adventurous than this one. After all, it involves working underwater to help fix, install, remove, or inspect structures such as bridge supports or large pieces of equipment such as offshore seawater intakes. Your employment opportunities may depend on exactly what you were convicted for as well as how long you've been out of prison.

  • Median hourly wage: $32.84**
  • Typical qualifications: Scuba certification and vocational certificate

13. Oil and Gas Rotary Drill Operator

Like derrick operators, rotary drill operators are known for having labor-intensive jobs. Felons can get jobs if they are willing to learn, work hard, and live in remote regions. (Many oil and gas wells are far away from large towns or cities.) You may get to help set up and control large drills that remove oil, gas, or core samples from deep underground.

  • Median hourly wage: $26.57**
  • Typical qualifications: High school diploma or vocational certificate

14. Graphic Designer

Do you have any artistic abilities? Many ex-cons do. If you're one of them, you may be able to transform your talents into a fun career that offers extensive possibilities. Graphic design is used by almost every organization that needs to market its products or services. And today's designers now have the chance to create graphics for print, online, and multimedia projects. This type of occupation even lends itself perfectly to being self-employed, making it one of the best careers for felons with creative talents.

  • Median hourly wage: $24.38
  • Typical qualifications: Associate or bachelor's degree

15. HVAC/R Technician

Heating, air conditioning, and good ventilation are often essential for the health and comfort of people who work and reside indoors. That's why most buildings in America need effective climate-control systems. And many companies rely on commercial refrigeration systems to keep their perishable products at the right temperature. Since the demand usually remains strong for qualified HVAC/R techs, this field sometimes makes jobs for ex-convicts available. However, like with other skilled trades, becoming a licensed technician may depend on your felony conviction. HVAC technician training is relatively short and is widely available at vocational schools.

  • Median hourly wage: $23.38
  • Typical qualifications: Vocational certificate and paid apprenticeship

16. Carpenter

The carpentry trade is often a good source of opportunities for ex-offenders, often serving as a path to mastering a craft where what carpenters do includes a range of skills, from constructing and repairing building frameworks to intricate woodworking projects. You can work your way up to becoming a journeyman carpenter with proper vocational training. Just be sure to research the licensing requirements in your state to see if your felony conviction will be a problem. Many carpentry jobs that hire convicted felons are offered by ex-cons who have built successful businesses in the trade and want to give back.

  • Median hourly wage: $23.20
  • Typical qualifications: Vocational certificate and paid apprenticeship

17. Oil and Gas Derrick Operator

Clean energy technologies will probably be the dominant sources of power in the coming decades. However, oil and gas still supply most of America's energy. Some of the best jobs for felons are within this industry since oil and gas companies need hard workers, and ex-cons are often among the hardest workers around. Derrick operators set up and control the framework and equipment that fits over oil or gas wells.

  • Median hourly wage: $24.62**
  • Typical qualifications: High school diploma or vocational certificate

18. Substance Abuse Counselor

As someone who has made life-altering mistakes and paid a heavy price, you may have great insights to share with others who need help making better life choices. Many social agencies have discovered that ex-cons and former addicts are sometimes very good at such jobs. Hiring convicted felons who've had their own behavioral or substance abuse issues allows those agencies to offer help from people who can truly empathize with the challenges of addiction.

  • Median hourly wage: $23.33
  • Typical qualifications: Ranges from a post-secondary certificate to a master's degree (depending on the state, employer, and position)

19. Commercial Truck Driver

Commercial trucking jobs for felons often become available when transportation companies experience a shortage of workers due to a period of strong economic growth. You will need a commercial driver's license (CDL) — a commercial truck driving school can help you prepare. You might want to approach smaller transportation companies first. (CDL jobs for felons are sometimes easier to get with small trucking companies since they may be less likely to run background checks or screen out qualified ex-cons.) However, the long-haul trucking industry doesn't usually provide jobs for parolees since they tend to require traveling out of state (which is typically forbidden when you're on parole).

  • Median hourly wage: $23.23
  • Typical qualifications: Vocational certificate

20. Solar Energy Technician

Like wind energy, the growing field of solar energy offers the possibility of providing good second-chance jobs for convicted felons. As the prices of solar panels and similar technologies continue to drop, their demand keeps rising. It often takes skilled, trained solar energy technicians to properly install them on rooftops or in other locations where they can be most effective.

  • Median hourly wage: $22.92
  • Typical qualifications: Vocational certificate

21. Welder

Like carpentry, the welding trade sometimes offers good employment for convicted felons. Plus, welders are needed across multiple industries, such as construction and manufacturing. And the training that is required to get started often takes less than a year.

  • Median hourly wage: $22.60
  • Typical qualifications: Vocational certificate

22. Auto Mechanic

Fixing cars and trucks requires special skills, but you may only need a year or less of training at an automotive trade school to begin this type of career. (A diesel mechanic program can offer similar benefits to those who prefer to work on heavy-duty vehicles.) The auto service industry has a long history of providing jobs for people with felony convictions. Your own opportunities may depend on exactly why you have a criminal record and how much you've grown as a person since serving your time.

  • Median hourly wage: $22.54
  • Typical qualifications: Vocational certificate

23. Painter

The walls of nearly every building require paint as part of their structural integrity and visual appeal. And many other structures and pieces of large equipment need paint for the same reasons. Painting is often a good job for convicted felons who can demonstrate trustworthiness and need to start making money in something they can learn fairly quickly.

  • Median hourly wage: $21.92
  • Typical qualifications: High school diploma or less

24. Construction Laborer

Many of the lower-skilled jobs in the construction industry are good for ex-cons who may not be able to pass strict background checks. Since you don't need a vocational license for basic laborer jobs, some employers in this sector may be willing to overlook your convictions if they feel that you'll work hard and not cause any problems. Your role may include assignments like digging trenches, cleaning work sites, erecting scaffolding, and using basic tools for other routine tasks.

  • Median hourly wage: $18.04
  • Typical qualifications: High school diploma or less

25. Helper to Extraction Workers

You don't necessarily have to develop many mechanical skills to work in the oil, gas, or mining industries. Instead, you may be able to assist the skilled workers who operate the big machines. Your job may involve cleaning up work sites, carrying equipment, or performing other random tasks that help keep things moving along.

  • Median hourly wage: $20.73**
  • Typical qualifications: High school diploma or less

26. Auto Glass Installer or Repairer

Most vehicle owners eventually have to get their windshields fixed or replaced. So the demand for auto glass services tends to stay strong. One way to learn the required skills is to take an auto body program at a trade school, which may qualify you for additional kinds of positions in the industry.

  • Median hourly wage: $18.23
  • Typical qualifications: Vocational certificate

27. Delivery Driver

Being a good driver can be very valuable in the job market. As long as you haven't committed theft or any serious traffic infractions (such as driving while intoxicated), you might be able to land a job that involves picking up and delivering packages or merchandise.

  • Median hourly wage: $17.62
  • Typical qualifications: Valid driver's license and a clean driving record

28. Shipping and Receiving Clerk

Every large warehouse and big-box store requires clerks to handle and prepare incoming and outgoing merchandise or other materials. They tend to verify records, double-check items being delivered, and arrange shipments. It's a good job for certain kinds of ex-offenders who can be trusted with a lot of important details.

  • Median hourly wage: $17.74
  • Typical qualifications: High school diploma or GED

29. Helper to Construction Tradespeople

What jobs can a felon get in the construction trades without becoming a licensed journeyman? Become a helper. Many skilled tradespeople need assistants willing to perform basic tasks such as carrying materials, holding tools, cleaning equipment and work sites, and helping with simple projects. For example, many carpenters, electricians, roofers, and stonemasons hire helpers. The bonus is that being a helper can provide a good introduction to a specific trade, which can help you decide whether to pursue it further yourself.

  • Median hourly wage: $18.04
  • Typical qualifications: High school diploma, GED, or vocational certificate

30. Barber

Knowing how to cut and style men's hair, give clean shaves, and trim beards is a good set of skills to have. You might even be able to offer a mobile barbering service and go to your clients' homes or workplaces to make things more convenient for them. First, however, you should find out whether you'll be able to qualify for a barbering license in your state. Certain kinds of felonies might disqualify you.

  • Median hourly wage: $14.27
  • Typical qualifications: Vocational certificate or associate degree

31. Landscaping Worker

Do you mind doing physically intensive work? Many gardening and landscaping companies hire people to help trim, water, fertilize, and plant lawns and other vegetation for their clients. Many of them also need people to help dig small trenches for sprinkler systems. And in some cases, they are willing to allow certain ex-cons to prove that they are honest and reliable workers.

  • Median hourly wage: $16.55
  • Typical qualifications: Vocational certificate or high school diploma or less

32. Dog Trainer

Being around domesticated animals can be good for your mental health, especially if you've had to spend time in prison. Dogs are particularly worthy companions, which is why they are incredibly popular with many pet owners. Many dog owners will pay good money for help with training their canine companions to follow commands, stay well-behaved, or even perform basic tricks. That's why this industry sometimes offers enjoyable jobs for felony offenders who don't have violent backgrounds and want a chance at self-employment.

  • Median hourly wage: $15.04
  • Typical qualifications: Vocational certificate

33. Cook

The culinary industry has a strong track record of being a good source of jobs for ex-cons. Many restaurants don't perform background checks. And if you prove that you can be counted upon, then this industry often provides opportunities for moving into higher, better-paying positions. Plus, in addition to restaurants, you might be able to find employment opportunities at institutional cafeterias. Just be aware that places like schools and hospitals will probably have stricter requirements and want to check your background for certain felonies.

  • Median hourly wage: $14.00
  • Typical qualifications: High school diploma or vocational certificate

34. Stock Clerk or Order Filler

Large stores, warehouses, and distribution centers employ many people to help unload trucks, stock shelves, fill customers' orders, set up displays, and organize stock inventories. You may have to work early in the morning or late at night, but this kind of job can be fun in its own way. A felony conviction for theft, violence, or drug use may cause employers to not want to hire you. But if you can show good references and prove that you've matured as a person, you may have a chance at landing a position.

  • Median hourly wage: $14.48
  • Typical qualifications: High school diploma or less

Companies That Hire Felons

Dave's Killer Bread, based in Oregon, is one of the few companies that openly and intentionally seeks to hire talented people regardless of their criminal past. The company believes so much in providing second-chance employment that it created a foundation to help other companies follow its lead. Dave's Killer Bread Foundation (DKBF) aims to educate and support businesses that want to recruit and employ qualified ex-convicts who might otherwise be overlooked.

Jobs for FelonsPutting aside the extraordinary examples set by organizations that work with DKBF, it's a good idea to view any list of companies that hire convicted felons with an open mind but also a skeptical eye. After all, very few companies actively seek out ex-cons. And company policies change. So a company that might have offered jobs to felons in the past may not do so anymore.

Plus, most companies don't want to be branded as being felon-friendly since it can hurt their image in the marketplace. That's why it's rare to find job ads that explicitly say felons are welcome to apply. Most of the time, you'll find the exact opposite (even though some companies are willing to give certain kinds of felons a chance). It just means that it can sometimes be impossible to know whether a company will consider you until you apply.

All of that said, looking at a list of companies that have reportedly hired felons in the past might give you a little more optimism. It can remind you that many good employers provide opportunities to ex-cons from time to time. The following well-known companies are just a few examples of employers that have been reported to offer jobs to some types of felons in the past. Just keep in mind that they may or may not currently be felon-friendly. (Even if they are felon-friendly, they won't hire just any felon for any position. It always depends on the specific job and individual. There are no guarantees. Companies want to offer jobs to the best people available.)

First, let's start with a few of the employers that are often at the top of people's minds when thinking about this issue. Yes, FedEx will hire people with a felony conviction (but not just anyone). UPS also hires some convicted felons. And Walmart sometimes hires people with felonies. In each case, the decision is made on an individual-by-individual basis. Multiple factors are considered, including the position being applied for, the types of offenses on your record, and how long it's been since your punishment. Companies like the following examples may have similar approaches:

  • Ace Hardware
  • Alamo Rent a Car
  • Allied Van Lines
  • Best Western
  • Bridgestone
  • Campbell Soup Company
  • Chili's
  • Comcast
  • Denny's
  • Dillard's
  • Embassy Suites
  • Exxon Mobil
  • Georgia-Pacific
  • Goodyear
  • Hill Brothers Transportation
  • Jiffy Lube
  • Kohl's
  • Landstar Trucking
  • Manpower
  • Olive Garden
  • PetSmart
  • Safeway
  • Sprint
  • Xerox

Getting a Government Job With a Felony

Yes, you can get a government job with a felony on your record. In general, you won't be automatically rejected just because you have a criminal history. However, certain types of convictions may prevent you from being hired for particular jobs. It all depends on exactly what you want to do, what you were convicted for, how long it's been since your offense(s), and how well you've reintegrated back into society or reformed your behavior. The government considers all applicants with felony convictions on a case-by-case basis. Federally, the only automatic rejections are for rare offenses like treason, campaigning for the overthrow of the government, willfully and unlawfully destroying public records, or inciting direct rebellion against the United States.

Job Programs for Felons

Jobs for FelonsIf you're truly serious about finding stable employment, then it might pay to explore your region's public or charitable programs. For felons to get jobs, they often need the support of organizations that have a track record of helping ex-offenders with their career search. Besides, there is nothing wrong with seeking assistance. Some of the most successful ex-cons in America were able to get fresh starts because they were willing to ask for help.

Most large communities in the U.S. are home to programs that help felons get jobs. Such programs are often run by faith-based organizations (such as Catholic charities), social service agencies, non-profit organizations (such as Goodwill Industries), or government agencies. And, thanks to the Second Chance Act (SCA), many second-chance programs for felons receive federal grant money to help ex-offenders find jobs, get housing, and re-enter society. So don't hesitate to contact any of the organizations in your area that may be able to offer support.

Among the many job programs for convicted felons across the country, one example is the CTA Second Chance Program in Chicago. As a partnership between various social service agencies and the City of Chicago, the program offers full-time work and apprenticeship opportunities to ex-cons who are willing to take on positions that involve servicing buses or rail cars for the Chicago Transit Authority. Within any given year, the program can employ up to 315 ex-offenders.

Another form of job help for felons that you may not know about is the Federal Bonding Program. A federal bond acts as an insurance policy for your employer against the perceived risk that you might steal money or property within the first six months of your employment. It is completely free of charge to both you and your employer. And it is available for any type of wage-paying job in any U.S. location. Plus, you can get bonded on the same day that you receive a job offer from an employer.

In addition, some cities are starting to offer litter-removal jobs to panhandlers and homeless people, including those who may have criminal records with past felony convictions. For example, in Fort Worth, Texas, Presbyterian Night Shelter runs the UpSpire program along with transitional housing. Through the shelter, the city provides paying, confidence-boosting jobs for homeless people that involve picking up trash on the streets. After all, when you're homeless, employment can be extremely hard to come by. And it's even tougher if you're a homeless felon. Programs like UpSpire offer the chance to develop a reputable record of employment, which can lead to better, more permanent opportunities. Other cities are trying out similar programs, including Denver, Colorado; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Chicago, Illinois; and Portland, Maine.

Colleges That Accept Felons

Having a post-secondary education can open a lot of new doors. Many colleges, universities, and trade schools will accept people with felony convictions. Some of them will ask if you have a criminal record as part of your application for admission; some won't. According to an article in Criminology, about seven in 10 U.S. colleges take an applicant's criminal history into account when making a decision about admission. But don't let that fact discourage you.

Most colleges consider each person's application on an individual basis and weigh several different factors before making a final decision. Automatic bans for felony convictions are rare. Generally speaking, colleges will review your felony conviction(s) and make a judgment based on factors like the program you've applied for, how long it's been since your release from prison, and whether your past behavior represents a threat to other students on campus. (If your criminal history consists of serious violence or sexual offenses, then it's less likely you'll be admitted to an on-campus program.)

Whichever school you apply to, always be honest. Own your past. A lot of colleges believe in the idea that people deserve second chances and shouldn't be considered a threat once they've paid their debts to society. But it's also important to be honest since you don't want to go through a program only to discover later that felons with your offense aren't allowed to have the kind of career you've been studying for. Be sure to ask your admissions counselor whether that may be an issue. And always get a second opinion from any regulatory bodies in your state that oversee the licensing of professionals in the occupation you intend to pursue.

Again, don't be discouraged if a particular school turns you down. You can always apply somewhere else. And don't overlook the many online colleges that now offer great career training programs. Since you won't be attending classes on campus, your criminal record may not be an issue. (Just remember to research the requirements of your intended occupation before enrolling in a specific program.)

If you don't have any drug-related convictions, you can probably also apply for federal financial aid. Many felons can get grants or loans that help cover the cost of their education.

8 Tips for Getting Hired as a Felon

Jobs for FelonsHow do felons get jobs? Everyone has a slightly different story. But if you talk to enough ex-convicts who've successfully re-entered society, you may discover some common threads. For example, you're likely to hear advice such as the following:

1. Remind yourself that you're not a bad person. We all make mistakes. Nobody makes it through life completely unscathed. For other people to give you a second chance, you first need to believe that you are worthy of one. Draw a line between your life right now and what happened in the past. Move forward with the understanding that your past doesn't necessarily have to determine what happens tomorrow.

2. Be realistic about how employers may initially perceive you. Many stereotypes exist. As a felon, you may be looked at as untrustworthy, dangerous, and uneducated. Employers may fear that you will steal from them, harm other employees, or abuse drugs. Even though such stereotypes may not apply to you, it's important to know about them so that you can work to overcome them.

3. Establish a clean, professional image. Every first impression matters. Starting dressing as if you are already successful and maintain that look every time you go out. When in doubt, choose clothing and hairstyles that are classic and conservative. Part of becoming successful is feeling successful. And you can't feel successful unless you look successful. So invest a lot of your effort in this important step.

4. Research your options. Talk to people in various industries. Get a feel for the requirements that you may need to meet. Find out what your felony convictions might disqualify you for so that you don't waste time and money pursuing a career that isn't open to you. (Sex offenses and violent crimes are usually the most limiting felonies.)

5. Get extra training. Your skills will be your most valuable asset. So look into career training programs at trade schools and vocational colleges. They frequently offer opportunities to learn relevant skills that match the needs of today's employers. You may be wondering, Can I attend a trade school near me if I am not allowed on campus due to a particular conviction? Online training options that could facilitate your education outside of the campus may be available, so it's worth it to ask the school you're interested in.

6. Consider volunteering for a little while. Many church groups, charities, and non-profit organizations are willing to accept the help of ex-cons who want to volunteer their time for a good cause. And if you demonstrate that you are reliable, hard-working, and honest, then you'll be able to establish great references, which are crucial when applying for jobs as a felon.

7. Be strategic about the jobs that you go after. It's often easier to get hired for positions that don't involve any face-to-face interactions with customers. And when it comes to hiring people with criminal records, small businesses tend to have a better track record than larger companies since many of them don't perform pre-employment background checks. Temp agencies or companies owned by your friends or family may also present fewer hiring obstacles.

8. Keep a thick skin and stay optimistic. Persistence is key. Some employers won't give you the time of day no matter what you do. So just keep your chin up and move forward. Focus on how you've grown and what you've learned from your experiences. Eventually, you'll receive an opportunity. When you do, take it and don't look back.

Create Your Own Opportunities

Jobs for felons may not be easy to get, but you can increase your odds of success by learning skills that are in high demand. Start looking into your options right now by using your zip code in the school finder at the top of the page to discover vocational schools near you!

* Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook. Some careers listed may be part of a combined occupation profile (visited May 26, 2023).

** Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (visited May 26, 2023).