Many felons leave prison believing that they can never find gainful employment. The truth is that while it will be tougher than for someone without a record, it is possible. There are many large and small felony friendly companies willing to give ex-cons a break.
The real challenge comes in proving that you are the best candidate for the job. Also, aiming for jobs that you have a realistic chance of securing.
When making an initial job search, you may want to focus on the best jobs for felons. This means those that are less competitive and have employers willing to take a chance. Being realistic and persistent can go a long way in getting you the job you need.
Certain jobs are very tough to get into because there are professional standards involved. Often, having a criminal record will disqualify you from getting that professional license.
Jobs that have integrity standards may be out of reach if you have been recently released. With time, however, you may be able to earn back your reputation. Then you may be able to make the case that you are deserving to join their ranks.
But let’s focus on job opportunities for felons that have been recently released.
There are specific industries that are more open to offering jobs to felons. The reasons for this may vary. However, the list in our next section should give you areas to focus on.
Some of the jobs for felons shown here may be low paying. They can, however, be a stepping stone that will later see you earning better. With more stable work experience under your belt, you can qualify for better-paying jobs later.
So let’s look at where you should direct your efforts.
We consider the best jobs for felons to be those that do not discriminate based on criminal history. This provides a more even playing field for felons when searching for jobs.
These industries offer a better chance of employment even with background checks. Some of the companies do however also perform credit checks. This can be a problem for felons that have served long sentences and suffer bad credit.
That said, many of these are entry and low-level positions. Where there is a strong demand for workers, even bad credit may not be a problem.
1. Temp Agencies
This is a top pick for many felons. Many temp agencies are open to hiring felons because they often get shorthanded. They are desperate to fill vacant positions as it also means money in their pocket.
They will have negotiated a rate for themselves and the temp they send over. The agency is the one that will do the job search for you. They deliver your resume to multiple companies looking for someone with matching skills.
Because they know the companies they serve, they know where felons will be accepted. Be open about having a criminal record and they will match you to places that hire felons.
Many will even provide training so you can be up-to-date on skills employers are seeking. As said, they will earn their commission off your engagement. This means you do not have to pay them for finding you a job.
Another upside is that if you do well, you may just find yourself a permanent job. Many companies consider temp employees first for vacancies that come up. This is easier than having to recruit from outside on their own initiative.
This is because you will already be familiar with the work culture. And, they will have seen your competency.
Even if you do not get a permanent job, the positions you work can add to your resume. With good references from these places, you stand a better chance later.
2. Warehousing and Deliveries
As businesses grow, there is increased demand for products and their delivery. Ongoing shipments mean that many warehouses have to run 24-hour shifts. There is also much demand for physical labor.
Many of these companies have opened up to offer jobs for convicted felons. This is due to the lack of workers to take on less than desirable positions. Night shift work is often easily available to felons.
Some warehousing facilities deal exclusively with their company products. Like with Starbucks that has to distribute products across different territories and stores. Others are logistics firms that serve other businesses and handle varying products.
In most cases, they often need employees that can work odd shifts. They also need them to be able to lift certain weights up to a certain height. This is as with delivery companies like UPS and FedEx.
If you can handle the physical demands, this is a good gig with the potential for growth. This environment is also often suitable for those with restrictions like sex offenders.
Some of the top companies known to offer such positions include:
- Amazon Warehouse
- Caruso Logistics
- RIM Logistics
- Reliable Transportation Solutions
- DM Fulfillment
- Source Logistics
Keep in mind that not all felons may qualify for these jobs. Some offenses may make the employer disinclined to hire you. Those with convictions for fraud, robbery, and theft may not be trusted handling valuable packages.
These are amongst the most appealing felony friendly jobs thanks to the good pay. In fact, a lack of experience is not an impediment. Many trucking companies willingly offer free training.
The main downside here is that you may need to spend many lonely hours on the road. If, however, you crave independence, then this can be a good fit.
Just as with warehousing, there are some restrictions. Not all offenders would qualify for these jobs. Some companies may even set a number of years after release before you can join them.
It is important to make inquiries to learn if you truly qualify for this career. Some of the top trucking companies that hire felons include:
- Trans Way
- Knight Transportation
- Trans Am Transportation
- Western Express
- National Carrier
- Swift Transportation
Many of the jobs for ex-felons in this industry relate to driving. However, many of these firms have other departments that can absorb felons.
Depending on your skills, you may be eligible to apply for other positions. This can include spots in departments like IT, logistics, and maintenance.
Also, the more specialized you are, the more you can earn. Over the road (OTR) drivers can earn over $30,000 more than local commercial truck drivers. This can depend on such factors as the level of experience and type of cargo.
4. Food Services
Typical entry-level jobs will pay minimum wage. If you are a server, there is a possibility of tips that can be a boost.
The staff turnover is often high. Therefore, many restaurants and fast food joints will hire just about anyone. It also means that if you stick it out and perform well, a promotion is likely.
Some of the companies that do consider felons for employment include:
- Domino’s Pizza
- Pizza Hut
- Burger King
- Red Lobster
- Olive Garden
These are some of the biggest food franchises. Many mom and pop establishments will also often hire felons. You just have to make a convincing case for yourself.
Apply to as many of these companies at a go. This will to improve your chances of getting an offer.
Also, the job you get may depend on your conviction. A felon convicted of theft may get a job as a dishwasher, but not a cashier.
There are often many entry-level positions to be had on the production side. Manual labor is often involved.
You may need to handle inputs, handle heavy machinery or transport finished products. It can be labor-intensive, requiring a lot of physical effort.
However, if you are in a growing company, there is often an opportunity for career growth. The pay may often be low to start with. Given more experience and training, this will improve.
Some manufacturing firms that may give you a chance include:
- Western Refining
- Koch Industries
- Tyson Foods
Many manufacturing companies have extensive operations. They offer great diversity in job opportunities. You may find vacancies on farms, factory floors, IT, logistics, and transport.
Some even offer assistance for training including scholarships. Another benefit is that many of these companies have widely spread offices. You may not need to relocate, and may even qualify for remote jobs.
This is another industry with high staff turnover. This tends to make employers more flexible when it comes to hiring felons.
The work can often be physically demanding, with many hours spent on your feet. It is however an industry that welcomes those without training or work experience. A willingness and ability to learn is mostly what is needed.
Many of the large and smaller retail stores are amongst the places that hire felons at the entry-level.
The best time to seek work is during the holiday period. End of the year and Black Friday sales periods mean that stores need extra help. This can last just a few weeks so the work will be temporary.
However, it still means a paycheck coming your way. If you have had it tough finding a job, take advantage of these opportunities.
If you work hard and make a positive impression, you may be later considered for something permanent. Plus, even temporary jobs can be added to your resume. With a good reference, it can help in finding a job elsewhere.
Some top retailers worth considering include:
- Dollar Tree
- Home Depot
- Best Buy
7. Ride Sharing
Even if you have been just released, you should have heard about rideshares. Companies like Uber and Lyft have become hugely popular alternatives to the traditional cab. They have also become a good revenue source.
As long as you have a car that qualifies and a valid license, you can likely sign on as a driver. These companies do carry out some level of background checks. They however also often accept felons.
There are conditions that do apply, but some felons have been accepted. With many drivers making over $20 an hour, this can be a good primary or second job.
You do not really have to deal with a supervisor as everything is handled via the app. You also get to enjoy some independence. There is great flexibility in making your schedules.
However, not all felons may qualify for this work. These companies do claim to support giving second chances. But they are not absolutely clear on their hiring policies.
Generally speaking, those with convictions relating to violence and sexual offenses are not likely to pass muster. Industry opinion is that other offenses over seven years old can be permitted. It is also not clear if they perform credit checks.
The best option is to apply on both platforms and hopefully get on at least one. Be sure to handle passengers politely. Also, invest in a dashcam to cover yourself as false accusations are not unheard of.
8. Online Work
There are multiple jobs that one can take up online. From administration to content creation, there are multiple niches one can find work. You just have to be computer savvy and have a reliable internet connection.
There are many platforms that allow workers to create free accounts and compete for jobs. Employers will post the details of the positions or projects. You simply pick out jobs that match your skills and apply.
Since these platforms can be accessed from all over the world. Competition can be high. It may be worthwhile updating your skills to qualify for less competitive jobs.
With just a few good reviews, you can attract more positive attention. This means better chances of winning jobs and securing higher rates.
With time you may even grow your own business and subcontract, or hire, other online workers.
These sites do not carry out background checks. You simply use your account to build your resume. Employers will focus on your talent and experience when making hiring decisions.
Some of the top sites for online work include:
- Simply Hired
- Task Rabbit
- Flex Jobs
There are also sites that advertise contract or permanent remote jobs. These can be for more formal services like customer care, HR, billing, and administration.
This type of work is becoming increasingly popular. It is less expensive for companies to hire remote workers, but some may require a background check.
Since everything is done online, filling an online form and submitting a resume should be easy. Apply as widely as possible for jobs that match your skills. This will increase your chances of success.
Now that you know where to focus, what more?
The jobs we have looked at all involve finding a willing employer. However, have you considered being self-employed?
One of the downsides of incarceration is learning to follow orders. This is a habit many find difficult to shirk once on the outside. They instinctively obey authority figures telling them to find a job.
If you can, however, be independent-minded, owning your own business could be just the solution.
Many of the most successful businesspeople we admire are entrepreneurs. And some have had pretty dismal backstories.
You just need to find a place to begin. Online freelance jobs mentioned above are a good way to start. You can pick a niche that you like and delve into it.
There are many online platforms that offer free or affordable training. You can use this to gain skills or even share your own, at a fee.
Either way, this can be a solid stepping stone to becoming your own boss.
- Freelance Sites
As mentioned, there are many niches to choose from on sites like Upwork, Freelancer, and Guru. Many freelancers that have earned positive reviews have moved on to set up their own companies. They often return to sub-contract other freelancers.
You do not have to earn a diploma or degree to acquire marketable skills. Now, there are many sites that offer a wide range of short courses on a variety of subjects.
From first aid to software design, you need only spend a little money to start learning. Some courses are even accredited by reputable colleges. Try popular sites like Udemy and Lynda.
- Gig Jobs
These are similar to freelance jobs. A potential employer advertises a small task or project they need help with.
The jobs can vary from house sitting to app development. They can also require you to meet the employer or work remotely. You will be required to work independently to accomplish the task to earn your pay.
Do remember to check on state and federal laws pertaining to businesses. Depending on the work you do, certain taxes may apply.
Make sure to start out on the right footing. Avoid complications that would land you back in prison.
Besides the stigma of felony convictions, many ex-cons do not land jobs simply because they have no skills. It is the minority that chooses to pursue some kind of education. Even fewer have access to vocational training.
Access to job training is tough when most employers are already prejudiced against you. A good way to acquire some skills is to go where they are willing to train you. Even if you are a felon.
As mentioned, temp agencies that accept felons will train them up. From using Microsoft Office to customer service, there are many areas that will be covered. Even if you ultimately end up starting your own business, you will find this learning useful.
Most other entry-level jobs in industries like retail and manufacturing will typically involve some on-the-job training. This can also be useful when moving on to another job. Trucking companies will often sponsor hires to get suitable licenses.
The tutorial sites mentioned above can also be helpful. Because there are so many courses on offer, you can easily acquire new skills here.
Both Udemy and Lynda.com offer well-regarded and affordable courses. You can learn a worthwhile skill from home and use it to start a business or get hired. Some courses can also be a foundation for a degree or diploma.
Another resource is the free Jobs for Felons guide. Here you can get detailed information on how you can effectively go about making a living.
Job hunting is a challenge made more difficult when you are a felon. This guide will brief you on your options and offer tips on how to achieve your goals. Whether you want to get hired or be your own boss, this guide will help you make it happen.
Searching for a job is tough enough, even when you have no criminal record. Being a felon makes the issue more challenging, but not impossible.
It is best to focus on industry niches that have a good track record of being receptive to felons. From temp jobs to online work, there are many options. More so if you are willing to begin at the entry-level.
Consider your own aptitude to figure out which industry you are best matched to. Try to apply for as many suitable jobs as you can. Consider training courses that can improve your skills.