Do Trade Schools Accept Felons?

Many people are raised to believe they can only achieve success through education. They have lofty goals of attaining four-year degrees and going on to graduate school.

These achievements can be great. They however require huge mental effort, cost a lot of money, and time. In reality, other jobs can be just as lucrative, but less stressful to achieve.

Trade schools are a great option for careers that are in high demand. For those with criminal records, the concern may be, do trade schools accept felons?

do trade schools accept felons

Also referred to as vocational or technical schools, they train people for hands-on jobs. Such jobs include carpenter, electrician, plumber, dental hygienist, web developer, IT technician, and much more. The variety of fields you can get into is quite broad.

Though less conventional, these jobs are ideal for those that prefer not to be stuck behind a desk all day.

Let’s discuss some of the top benefits of choosing this career path.

Why Choose Trade School?

do trade schools accept felon

The employment rate amongst trade school graduates is better than with degree earners. Part of this may be down to the experience they attain. Many jobs require apprenticeships that makes them better prepared to join the workforce.

The training is also more relevant and practical to the jobs they choose. This means they can also most immediately start earning money. the shorter duration in which they join the job market is also a plus.

Almost all of those that join trade schools end up completing their courses. This is compared to the almost 40% of those that enroll in degree courses that do not.  This means a great deal of time and money is wasted.

Trade schools are far more affordable. While on apprenticeship, some even start to earn money. With grants, many complete their courses without the same debt burden as degree holders.

Trade schools offer flexible learning arrangements. Many offer evening or weekend classes. This allows students with other obligations to still attend and work towards their qualification.

Many courses have small classes. This means keener attention from teachers and stronger interactions for better learning.

These qualifications can often be a stepping stone. This means that once earned, one can start work. Later, they take additional credits to earn their associate’s, undergraduate, and graduate degrees later.

There are also very many career options available. From construction to IT, chefs to paralegals, there is a good representation of trade careers in all fields.

It takes less than 2 years to earn most qualifications. This means joining the job market faster, boosting earning potential, and earning valuable experience.

It is also helpful that there are no extracurricular activities in such schools. They mainly focus on the training program, leaving students able to decide how they spend their free time.

How to Get into Trade School?

do trade schools accept the felon

Applying to trade schools is typically straightforward. Most have websites where you can download application forms. Alternatively, you should visit the school admissions office.

You need to check on application or admission deadlines. You also need to ensure the course you wish to pursue is available. Some schools will drop or add courses depending on demand and availability of qualified trainers.

Most will just consider that you have a high school diploma or GED. Most do not typically require SAT scores or writing of essays.

The overwhelming majority of trade schools do not run background checks on students. Some specific careers are however more sensitive and attract this vetting. This includes healthcare and law enforcement jobs.

Challenges Felons Face with Vocational Careers

do trade school accept the felon

As mentioned, some careers are not viable for felons. Trying to become a nurse or police officer can be difficult with a criminal record.

Besides being of a sensitive nature, jobs in law enforcement require the use of guns. Felons lose gun rights upon conviction.

Another problem for felons comes in the apprenticeship stage. Some careers require that trade school students spend some time working under the tutelage of licensed professionals. Some are not willing to take on those with criminal backgrounds.

The next problem has to do with licensing. Some trade careers require professionals to acquire licenses. These are typically tested by and issued by state authorities.

Some licensing bodies will have moral standards attached to attaining licenses. This can make it hard for a felon to gain approval.

More so when the nature of the crime associates with the profession. For instance, trying to earn a nursing license after being convicted of sexual abuse of minors.

Tips for Pursuing Trade Careers

Do Your Research

Identify the particular field you wish to join. Check out the variety of courses being offered in the accredited trade schools near you. Also, consider the costs of those courses.

Also, look at the end game. If your chosen career requires a license, ensure your offenses will not be a barrier. Also, ensure the school you attend qualifies you to sit certifying or licensing exams at the end.

Apply For Financial Aid

Felons can also qualify for aid such as Pell Grants. Look up the requirements and deadlines to ensure you do not miss out. This will reduce your financial burden considerably.

Also, check on any grants or scholarships available through the school. Some companies will sponsor training if you commit yourself to work for them for a set period. This is common to see in such fields as trucking.


Trade careers can be quite lucrative. Jobs such as dental hygienists and HVAC specialists have become highly competitive. They offer good pay that rivals even the earnings of degree holders.

The qualifications take a much shorter time to earn and at a much lower cost.

For felons who are eager to get into the job market, trade careers offer a faster way of achieving this. Once you earn your certification or license, you can quickly find a job. Or, work as an independent contractor.

But certain fields are more challenging to get into due to licensing requirements. It is vital to make inquiries early to ensure your job prospects will not suffer.

Remember that these requirements and regulations can vary from state to state. If intending to relocate, consider the impact.

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