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12 Best Jobs if You Have a Felony

Our list of the best jobs if you have a felony will help you get that second chance and get back on your feet.

Before we start, we need to get few things out of the way. Getting a job with a felony conviction is hard and often an uphill battle. People will look at you funny, stereotype you, and generally, judge you based on your conviction. Try to not let that discourage you, which is of course much easier said than done. In order to ease that for you, we have a few tips that will help you find some of the best jobs if you have a felony. There are plenty of advice on how to pursue a career with a felony background, like the ones found on JobUnlocker and we have distilled them for you here, but by far the best advice we have found is on Reddit, given by an ex-con who managed to turn his life around. Be sure to check it out, as it offers some true words of wisdom. Here are our tips on how to find a job as a convicted felon.

12 Best Jobs if You Have a Felony


Research your options. See which employers require a background check and which don’t. Avoid wasting your time on applying for jobs that include money handling, children, or security, as these are usually the most thoroughly checked and getting them as a felon is almost impossible.

Be mindful about your appearances. If you look like a professional, people will treat you like one. If you look like a convict…well, you get the picture. You don’t have to be rich to dress nice and sharp and taking care of personal hygiene is a must. If you have any tattoos, try to hide them as best as you can or consider having them removed. You don’t want to give people reasons to see you as a stereotype and place a label on you.

If there’s an even slight chance that you will be questioned about your past, get ready to talk about it in short and concise way. There is no need to grovel, but also don’t blame everybody else for your troubles. Hiring managers may or may not take a risk and give an honest ex-convict a chance, but nobody will hire a person unable or unwilling to take responsibility for their actions.

Don’t lie. Be honest and admit that you have made a mistake, but that you are ready to continue with your life now. We are all human and can relate to making an error in judgment one time or another.

Get help is possible. There are a lot of organizations dedicated to helping people with felonies get a second chance. These people know the local employers and will gladly point you in the right direction. Not only will you know where to look for a job, but with their recommendation, it will be much easier to get one.

If you can afford to wait, volunteering for a while is an option worth considering. It will allow you to get some experience and it will look nice on your resume. And if you are in a position, self-employment can be a very lucrative option, but that isn’t for everyone and not everyone has skills or an opportunity for being their own boss and starting their own business. Finally, if you can manage it, going back to school is a viable option. Hire Felons has a nice overview of college degrees for felons you may pursue.

The best tip we can give you about finding a job as a felon is to be patient and stay positive. Don’t lose your cool if people put you down. They will hold their prejudices against you but try not to take it personally, rare are ex-convicts who haven’t face them after doing the time. Keep your head above water and keep paddling, sooner or later something will come up. It is all about networking, so use every chance you get to meet new people.

In order to create the list of best jobs if you have a felony, we have consulted several online resources that deal with the matter. Trade Schools site has a nice selection and Jobs for Felons hub has one as well. If you are not in your youth anymore, take a look at our list of the Best Jobs if You Are Above 50, and maybe combine it with this one and see if there is something that may suit you. Here are our recommendations, ranked according to median hourly wage, supplied by PayScale.

12. Cook

Median Hourly Wage: $10.38

Cook in big cities is a high-turnover job, especially the entry positions. In our case, that is a good thing, since restaurant owners and managers can’t be too picky about who they employ and usually don’t bother with background checks. It’s not a very pleasant working environment, and the pay isn’t spectacular, but it is a steady job and it will keep a roof over your head.

12 Best Jobs if You Have a Felony


11. Telemarketer

Median Hourly Wage: $10.54

Next on our list of best jobs if you have a felony is telemarketing, especially in big phone farms, is a high stress job with a huge turnover. We have all heard horror stories about this job and for the most part, they are probably true. But it is a paid job and if you are in a pinch, it will provide you with a paycheck that will keep you going until something better comes along.

12 Best Jobs if You Have a Felony


10. Landscaping Worker

Median Hourly Wage: $13.31

If you don’t mind working outdoors and doing manual labor, landscaping may be for you. Depending on your area, the work may be seasonal, but it can be fun, especially if you have a bit of a green thumb and enjoy working in a garden.

12 Best Jobs if You Have a Felony


9. Construction Worker

Median Hourly Wage: $14.70

This is one of the entry positions in construction and is ideal for people with no background in carpentry or other construction trades. It is hard and involves carrying heavy stuff up and down the construction site, but it doesn’t require much in terms of skill or education. If you are psychically able, you can do it.

12 Best Jobs if You Have a Felony


8. Auto Mechanic

Median Hourly Wage: $15.75

The top half of our list of best jobs if you have a felony requires a bit more in terms of qualifications. Auto mechanic is one of those jobs. It may require a trade school, but there are also plenty of shops that will hire you at entry position, which includes sweeping the shop and helping real mechanic, and offer an on-the-job training.

12 Best Jobs if You Have a Felony


7. Welder

Median Hourly Wage: $17.52

Welders work in many industries, but do require a trade school. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long to be trained and if you are lucky, you may land paid training program.

12 Best Jobs if You Have a Felony


6. Commercial Truck Driver

Median Hourly Wage: $17.83

This isn’t a good option if you are on parole, since you can’t leave your state, but if you are done with your sentence, it may provide a comfortable living. Truck driving is a good option for people recently out of prison and still feel anxious around people and definitely one of the best jobs if you have a felony.

12 Best Jobs if You Have a Felony


5. HVAC/R Technician

Median Hourly Wage: $19.24

Getting an HVAC/R Technician license is a great way of ensuring a steady and well-paid job, but it isn’t as simple as it sounds. You will need vocational training and an apprenticeship. To complicate things further, some states impose limits for felons on obtaining the license and you need to check if your particular felony is listed as incompatible.

12 Best Jobs if You Have a Felony

Pixabay/Public Domain

4. Carpenter

Median Hourly Wage: $19.64

Plenty of ex-cons start their own construction companies and are willing to offer jobs to their fellow felons. All that they require of you is to work hard and keep out of trouble, which you should be doing anyway. Advancing to journey carpenter won’t happen overnight, but if you decide to make this your career, it is achievable easily enough.

3. Web Designer & Developer

Median Hourly Wage: $19.88

Entire IT sector is usually more open-minded than some other industries, with leadership roles filled with young people that don’t tend to judge people quite as severely as their senior colleagues, so getting a job should be easier with one of the companies that deal with IT. Easier still doesn’t mean easy though and perhaps freelancing for start may be a good idea, at least until you have made some connections and a name for yourself. Now, let’s se which are the top two best jobs if you have a felony.

2. Plumber

Median Hourly Wage: $20.27

Both residential and commercial plumbing offer some nice opportunities for making a decent living, but they require vocational school and plenty of on-the-job training.

12 Best Jobs if You Have a Felony


1. Application Developer

Median Hourly Wage: $29.20

If you have a knack for it, app developer is one of the best jobs if you have a felony. The job itself is interesting and in high demand, it is well paid and even CNN Money has declared it the best job in America. This job also provides an opportunity for freelancing and working from your home, if you aren’t ready to go out and deal with people yet.