Having a criminal record is hard. On top of spending hundreds or thousands of dollars to fight convictions and potentially spending lots of valuable time in jail or prison, people with a criminal record often face a lot of prejudice once they make their way out of the system. Despite the difficulty, it is incredibly important for those with a criminal history to find and maintain employment. Without a steady job, the likelihood of additional run-ins with law enforcement rise exponentially. The key to getting one of these jobs is looking in the right places. If you have a criminal record and are looking at jobs for people with a criminal record, you do have options.
6. Retail & Hospitality Many retail companies and restaurants have high turnover rates, especially around the holidays and during the summer. If you happen to live in a college town, these turnover rates will likely be even higher. In addition to high turnover rates, they often hire seasonal employees to cover shifts during the busy season and allow many of these employees to stay on after the rush if they have been reliable and performed well. Because they are almost always hiring, retail companies and restaurants often don’t have stringent requirements for their employees. They may still turn you away, especially if your crime is violent or involves theft of any kind, but it is very possible for people with criminal convictions to get work in this field.
If you want to increase your odds of getting hired, make sure to apply for plenty of seasonal positions in retail stores or try to get on as a line cook or busser in a restaurant. Seasonal employees are often needed immediately by companies, so their background check is even less stringent. In restaurants, management tends to be more comfortable hiring those with a criminal history to fill positions that require little to no customer interaction.
5. Truck Driving In my experience, truck driving is one of the most popular jobs for those with a criminal history. Currently, there is a shortage of truck drivers. This shortage means that a lot of companies don’t require a background check or only run a surface-level check that allows them to weed out those with severe infractions in their recent past. These positions do require a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License), but many companies will pay for you to attend classes and get the license. If you think that you may be interested in this career path, be ready to spend between four and six weeks in a hotel room a few hours from home, possibly with another person, while you attend truck driving school. When class is over, however, you will be a licensed truck driver and will have the opportunity to start a career. Long-term, there is a lot of potential to increase earnings from truck driving. After you have established yourself as a reliable driver, you can begin saving up to buy your own truck. Once you have a truck of your own, you will be free to contract your services out to truck driving companies rather than working for them directly. As with other jobs, different companies will have different background requirements, so don’t be discouraged if you are not hired immediately.
4. Welding Simply put, welding is the act of joining two pieces of metal together. Welders become proficient in multiple types of welding, depending on the materials that they are working with. Welders can work in factories and pipe yards, on oil fields, or even on cars and motorcycles. Because they are involved in so many different fields, different jobs will have different background requirements. Shops and pipe yards will likely be lenient with criminal records, but any company that is welding as a part of a government contract may have more stringent requirements. If the job requires work at a secure site or on a military base, those with a felony will likely be denied.
Welding doesn’t require much of an education, but it does require skill. You can pick up the skill on your own by practicing with friends and family, through an apprenticeship, or by taking classes at a community or vocational college.
3. Warehouses Warehouses are a good option for people who have a criminal history. The work is physically challenging, but there is no interaction with customers and warehouses tend to require a fairly large workforce. Depending on where the warehouse is located and what the warehouse contains, there may be opportunities for part-time or temporary work. If these opportunities exist, don’t be afraid to use them as an opportunity to show the employers that you are dependable. If you are able to drive forklifts or have experience loading and unloading trucks, you already have skill sets that are desirable in this field.
2. Industrial Machinery Mechanics This kind of work often takes place in factories and involves packaging and producing goods as well as operating factory machinery. There is more work in this sector than there are workers, and there is a distinct downward trend in potential workers. A worker shortage coupled with a lack of customer interaction means that many managers are willing to hire people with a criminal history. There is also plenty of room for advancement in this field, as supervisors and machine operators are needed to control the flow of production.
1. Auto Mechanics Auto mechanics and auto body technicians never run out of work. These businesses continue to thrive, even when other sectors of the economy seem to fail. It is partly because of the steady need for workers that many managers are able to see past a criminal history. Larger shops will often conduct a background check, but tend to overlook convictions that are not violent. Smaller chains and independently owned shops are unlikely to run a background check at all. Although the outlook is good for auto mechanics, these jobs do require knowledge and skills. You may be able to get jobs in tire and lube shops without significant training, but most auto body shops or larger mechanic shops will require either vocational training or the successful completion of an apprenticeship.
Jobs for people with a criminal record are not always easy to come by, but they do exist. If you have a criminal record, don’t give up on your search for employment, but use these suggestions to guide you on your search. There are jobs out there for you, you just have to look in the right places.