Life after having earned a criminal conviction can often become much harder. With more employers now utilizing background checks, it is difficult to conceal such a past. Crimes committed are factored in when making hiring decisions.
Even landlords will sometimes do the same. This means challenges in trying to find decent jobs and housing. Both areas being vital to a person’s survival and comfort.
Where you are at a disadvantage, it makes sense to look for options that offer better odds. Second chance trucking companies have long proven a haven for those with criminal pasts.
Even in times of a pandemic, there is still strong demand for commodities. This has helped to sustain ad grow the transport industry.
Trucking companies have a strong demand for qualified drivers. The average age of commercial truck drivers is 55 years. To keep up, trucking complies are eager to recruit new and younger drivers that will make up for the shortfall.
They do make a good effort to support this introduction into the business. More on this later.
Trucking is a blue-collar job. It does however offer multiple benefits that make the hard work involved rewarding.
Let’s discuss why felons may find a career in trucking a good choice.
Why Opt for Trucking Jobs?
Trucking is a tough business. You have to handle heavy vehicles and the hours can be brutal. More so when you are a commercial driver crossing multiple state lines.
But there is a payoff to choosing this career.
Job security is a big deal. If there is anything that economic downturns have taught us, it is that job loss can be devastating. With an industry that is virtually shock-proof, you are assured of continued work and income.
Felons are a demographic that has often had to endure hardship. Poorly paying jobs and long hours are the norms for many. A steady gig with good earnings is always appreciated.
Another upside is the freedom achieved. Trucking is a job that places you on the open road.
For the most part, there is no direct supervision. This can be very liberating for someone coming from incarceration.
It also offers the chance to travel around. Especially with long haul trips. You can discover new cities and smaller hidden gems along the way.
The work involved is not complicated. Training takes just a few months. With a decent learning capability, you can easily master how to operate big rigs and earn your license.
The earning potential in this business is quite good. It is one of the highest paying fields available to felons.
Many that can cope with the conditions never have a reason to leave. They earn enough to cater to their families, make investments, and buy comfortable homes.
This is also a very necessary field. People need all kinds of essential and non-essential commodities across the country. by serving in this business you help fulfill the needs of the many.
With all these benefits, the next question should be how does one become a truck driver. Let’s look at the hiring criteria.
Requirements to Become a Truck Driver
The first requirement is a commercial driver’s license (CDL). This is issued by the DMV in your state of residence. To earn it, you will need to attend a truck driving school to learn the necessary skills and rules.
Gaining admission to a truck driving school program may also call for some requirements. Having a clean driving record is often necessary. Some schools may also want you to have some level of work history.
To obtain a CDL you will need to be at least 21 years old. Even if you do pass the test, there is more.
You will need to undergo a drug and alcohol test. Passing this test is mandatory before you can get your CDL. You will also need to undergo a physical at an approved health facility.
Note that although these are just the basic requirements, your state may have additional rules. Check with your local DMV for all the requirements for earning a CDL.
If you do meet the criteria to earn a CDL, then you will need to get the requisite training.
Choosing A Truck Driving School
When selecting a truck driving school you will have to consider the cost. Most felons lack much money to pay for tuition. This should not however push you to choose a substandard option.
Think about how you will pay for your training. You can consider sponsored options if money is tight. You will likely be obligated to work for the sponsoring employer for a set period, or till you repay their investment.
Consult with the schools you are considering to find out the availability of any grants or scholarships. Different schools will also offer different rates, so research to discover what is affordable.
There are three types of schools. Licensed schools meet the minimum standard set by the state.
Certified schools are licensed and have a third-party assessment to ensure their standards. Their students must meet the DOT standards.
Accredited schools meet the standards and policies set by the US Department of Education.
To get a good idea as to how trucking schools rank, consider the Professional Truck Driver Institute rating. It helps give learners a chance to discern school standards, professionalism, ethics, and performance.
Also, give some thought to the mode of learning. If you are already working, you may need a school that can accommodate evening classes.
Target comprehensive programs that offer a good balance of classroom learning and on-the-road training.
Sponsored training can secure you the funding you need to afford a program. There are however good schools with good links in the industry that come with no strings attached.
Try to identify a school with these job placement services. They can help link you quickly to opportunities once you qualify.
How to Pay for Training?
As mentioned, there are multiple ways to pay for CDL training. This issue is vital for ex-cons as money is often hard to come by.
You will already need to be paying for your housing and upkeep. CDL training can cost as much as $7,000 at the best schools. So to afford many programs, you may need to get some assistance.
Sponsored training is a good option. It allows you to gain the necessary qualification without worrying about payment just yet. You will eventually repay the sponsoring company by working for them.
Later your pay may be deducted to recover the monies spent. This will involve a contractual obligation that allows you to repay the money invested. While it does lock in your options in choosing an employer for a while, it does guarantee work.
Some employers will even consider reimbursing drivers for earning their CDL. This normally applies to recent graduates who have paid for their training out-of-pocket. Payments are often made in installments.
Find out from the schools you are considering what sponsored arrangements are available and their terms.
Luckily this type of vocational training is also considered worth supporting by the government. You do not have to be pursuing a degree to qualify for financial aid.
Depending on your financial situation, you may qualify for FAFSA. This federal student aid does have certain conditions. For instance, having to register for selective service if a male between 18-25 years.
Also, those convicted of drug offenses are usually prevented from accessing this aid. Completing a rehab program or expungement of criminal records may however help resolve this.
Veterans also qualify for education benefits via the Military Apprenticeship Program.
Conduct a check of federal state and school funding programs. Many do offer some form of scholarship or grant that can offset this expense. The best part is that if you qualify, there is no repayment involved.
You get to earn your CDL with the freedom to choose where you will work.
Pay Your Way
Some felons can pay their own way. If a bit restricted, then opting for a cheaper school is still viable.
Do however avoid taking a loan for this. They can attract a high interest and will likely require repayment starts even before you have completed training.
You can even target an employer that will reimburse you for your training. You can recoup your investment this way while still starting out on your career.
Trucking Companies That Hire Felons
Now that you have earned your CDL, the next step is to find an employer. being a felon means you have to be prepared for rejection. Many employers find it hard to look past your convictions.
Thankfully, the trucking business is more generous. While they may have rules that govern this hiring, they do hire felons.
Here are some of the top picks. Do however note that though they may hire felons, it does not mean they will hire you. It is up to you to make yourself a desirable candidate and accept that there are no guarantees.
Here are firms that hire felons whose convictions are 10 years or older:
- Celadon Trucking – Indiana
- Crete Carriers – Nebraska
- R. England – Utah
- Dick Lavy Trucking – Ohio
- Dutch Maid Logistics – Ohio
- B. Hunt – Arkansas
- Mercer Transportation – Kentucky
- Swift Transportation – Arizona
These are firms that hire felons whose convictions are 7 years or older:
- Bennett Motor Express – Georgia
- Roehl Transport – Wisconsin
- Hornady Transportation – Alabama
- Falcon Transport – Ohio
- Stevens Transport – Texas
- PGT Trucking – Pennsylvania
- Super Service – Michigan
- Groendyke Transport – Oklahoma
Here are firms that hire felons whose convictions are 5 years or older:
- Florilli Transportation – Iowa
- Boyd Brothers Transportation – Alabama
- Koch Trucking – Ohio
- TransAm Trucking – Kansas
- TransWay Inc. – Michigan
- Carolina Cargo Inc.- South Carolina
- D. Transport Express Inc. – Michigan
- Melton Truck Lines Inc. – Oklahoma
Some companies hire on a case-to-case basis. The policies may vary but they do leave some room for consideration:
- Averitt Express – Tennessee
- Dart Transit Co. – Minnesota
- Don Hummer Trucking – Iowa
- Knight Transportation – Arizona
- PAM Transport – Arkansas
- WEL Companies – Wisconsin
- Werner Enterprises – Nebraska
- XPO Logistics – Connecticut
Tips to Getting Hired
Be honest about your history. Background checks are a must in the trucking business so omitting this will be useless.
You can seek to impress during interviews and take responsibility for your actions. Demonstrate the ways you have changed and wish to build a solid career.
Know that sobriety is prized in the business. Make the decision to keep clean and stick to it.
Drug and DUI convictions can make it hard to secure a job. The longer you stay sober the better your chances.
Long haul jobs are lucrative. If you do not get such immediately, work smaller delivery jobs. Gaining experience will help when you want to move up later.
Considered the sponsored training route which will guarantee a job. The pay may be lower but it will be a steady paycheck.
Securing a job in the trucking industry is possible for felons. Many companies are understanding but will have their own policies to abide by. Discuss your situation with your school and intended employer to avoid surprises.
Be forthcoming with the truth of your past. Some companies will exclude the more serious of felony offenses, especially those involving violence. But they will consider non-violent cases.
Also, be prepared for additional vetting. Many companies will undertake their own drug and alcohol tests.
Besides the possible waiting period from conviction, some companies also have experience requirements. Some do accept new CDL graduates, while others will require some level of work experience. They will typically indicate their requirements in job adverts, or you can simply enquire.
Keep in mind that keeping a clean driving record is vital. Moving violations, DUIs, and other offenses may not land you in jail. But they can cost you a great job opportunity.
Also, note that the trucking industry does change from time to time. Some of the companies listed may be acquired by others. This can alter their hiring policies, so seek to ascertain the most current guidelines they follow.