What are the best jobs that hire felons?

Last updated: May 23, 2024
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Eleana Bowman
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What are the best jobs that hire felons?
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Do you have a felony conviction on your record? If so, you deserve a second chance at success and reintegration into society.

A steady job is important to get back on your feet and work toward the future you want — but not all companies hire felons.

Fortunately, many jobs do hire felons, and more and more companies are opening up to the idea.

If you’re not sure of where to find employment opportunities, we’ll offer some insight into various jobs that may be the perfect fit for you. In this guide, find 15 jobs and industries that hire people with felonies.

How does a felony record change your employment options?

When you apply for a job, the company hiring will likely do a criminal background check. This will show them your criminal history and other parts of your past that could be “red flags.” Felonies can be significant barriers to employment.

If you have a felony record, that might automatically disqualify you from some jobs. For instance, you most likely won’t be able to work for the government or law enforcement agencies, in the medical industry, in childcare settings, and in jobs with firearms (like security or firearm sales).

For other jobs, it’s not necessarily a problem — but it will, unfortunately, likely make it a bit harder to get hired.

Felonies can also make it harder to earn higher wages. A recent study found that having a felony record resulted in a 22% reduction in earning potential. This means folks with felonies earn 22% less than people without felonies on their records. It’s not fair, but those are the stats.

Fortunately, more and more companies are opening up to hiring felons. And some industries, like food service and manufacturing, have long been felon-friendly.

Nonprofits and government agencies also run some felon employment programs. These programs work with reformed felons to help them find meaningful employment in their communities.

We’ll go over the best jobs for felons in the guide below.

Does the type of felony make a difference?

Yes, it does.

Violent felonies will make it much harder to find work. Many employers are willing to hire felons in general but may not be willing to hire felons with violent records.

There are some specific differences, as well. For instance, alcohol-related felonies might make getting hired as a bartender impossible.

15 jobs that hire felons

There are plenty of jobs that hire felons. This list breaks down some of the most common categories of employment that are often open to those with felony convictions. For more options, check out this list of companies that hire felons.

1. Restaurant jobs

Food service is well known as a felony-friendly industry to work in. Available positions include back-of-house (cooks, prep cooks, dishwashers, etc.) and front-of-house (servers and bartenders). The foodservice industry has strong demand for workers, which is only expected to grow in the coming years.

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In many regions, restaurants are understaffed. If you’re willing to work hard, there should be plenty of hours and opportunities available.

The majority of restaurant jobs are minimum-wage positions. However, most food service workers also get tips, which helps to increase their take-home pay.

2. Grocery store jobs

Supermarkets and grocery stores are often felon-friendly workplaces. Available positions include checkers, stockers, janitorial staff, and deli workers.

Grocery stores are also unique because they are open long hours – sometimes 24/7. Night shift roles are harder for stores to fill, so you may have a better shot if you’re flexible about when you work. Grocery stores typically pay minimum wage.

3. Trucking jobs

Trucking companies may or may not hire felons — depending on the firm and the type of goods transported. That said, the industry has in the past been known as felon-friendly.

Most trucking jobs require a commercial driver’s license (CDL). That can take some upfront time and investment, but it’s worth the effort to make a career in what can be a lucrative industry.

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Becoming a trucker can make you pretty good money, particularly if you’re willing to take on the longer routes.

4. Manufacturing jobs

Manufacturing and warehouse work is often available to people with criminal records. Manufacturing is a broad term that includes everything from entry-level to highly specialized career work. That said, manufacturing gigs usually pay a little more than minimum wage on average.

5. Transportation and delivery jobs

Similar to trucking, companies usually hire for local transportation and delivery roles. If you work in this industry, you’ll likely be driving a smaller rig — like a box truck or small semi. You’ll also likely be staying more local, which means you should be home each night to sleep in your own bed.

These roles typically require a CDL and can pay well over minimum wage.

6. Hospitality jobs

The hospitality industry includes hotels, resorts, event venues, cruises, casinos, entertainment venues, and other tourism-related businesses.

As you can imagine, a huge range of positions are available within the hospitality industry. Many roles involve customer interaction, so good customer service skills are necessary.

There are also plenty of back-end roles at these facilities — cleaning staff, maintenance crews, dishwashers, etc.

Generally, entry-level roles in the hospitality industry tend to pay around minimum wage.

7. Food production jobs

Food production is a subset of manufacturing work, where you’ll make products like condiments, baked goods, and other packaged foods. This category can also include beverage production.

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These roles are usually in a warehouse setting, but there’s more focus on maintaining a sanitary work environment. You may be asked to wear a hair net and/or gloves to work.

Most food production roles pay around minimum wage.

8. Packaging jobs

Another subset of warehouse/manufacturing work is the packaging industry. Instead of producing goods, these companies package consumer products for sale.

The food packing industry is a good example of a felon-friendly industry. Meatpacking and fruit packing jobs are abundant. It’s hard work, but there are opportunities available even if you have a record.

Most packaging jobs pay around minimum wage.

9. Bartending jobs

Bartending jobs are usually evening shifts. Bars often need bartenders, as well as support roles like bouncers and dishwashers.

Some employers in this space are willing to look past a criminal record, while others are not — it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

Bar jobs usually pay minimum wage, but you can get tips on top of your hourly wages.

10. Retail jobs

Retail jobs include checkout staff, stockers, cleaners, and more in retail stores. Roles are available in everything from huge superstores to small mom-and-pop stores.

Retail is an entry-level role and, as such, typically pays around minimum wage.

11. Automotive jobs

Automotive jobs include roles as mechanics, front-desk staff, parts managers, and support staff. The automotive industry is usually felon-friendly as long as you know your stuff and can perform the job well.

Automotive jobs vary in pay, but specialized laborers like mechanics can expect to earn decent money.

12. Freelancing and contract jobs

Any “job” you can do without a formal application process will be felon-friendly because there won’t be any background checks involved. Most roles in this area don’t even ask about your criminal history.

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In this industry, there are opportunities for freelance writers, designers, virtual assistants, bookkeepers, and much more.

For the most part, these roles aren’t traditional jobs. You won’t work set hours or receive a set amount of pay. Instead, you’ll have to find clients, then work a flexible schedule and get paid by the project or by the hour.

13. Construction jobs

The construction industry is always looking for hard workers who can handle rigorous physical labor. If you’re a good employee, many companies are willing to look past a criminal history.

Construction jobs typically pay more than minimum wage.

14. Customer support jobs

Customer support roles may be felon-friendly in many cases. Many firms are looking to fill these roles, particularly for phone support agents. There may also be roles available for email support and online chat support.

These roles are all about helping people. Whether that’s helping a customer start a return of an item they bought or troubleshooting a tech issue, it’s important to have good customer service skills in order to work in this industry.

Customer support roles are considered entry-level and usually pay around minimum wage.

15. Landscaping jobs

Landscaping companies are often looking for hard workers to help mow lawns, maintain gardens, and install new green scapes at construction sites. If you’re a hard worker, many employers are okay with hiring felons.

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Landscaping jobs can pay minimum wage for entry-level roles or quite a bit more for specialized labor like equipment operators or foremen. Wages also vary by area, however.

How to find a job as a felon

To find job opportunities, the best place to start is the Jobcase job board.

This handy tool has millions of job opportunities and allows you to sort by industry, company, job title, and more.

For those with a criminal record, there are some general best practices and tips to keep in mind:

  • Spend extra time on your application to really make yourself stand out. See our tips for filling out a job application as a felon.

  • When applying, be honest about your record if the application asks about your criminal history. Most employers will do a background check, so they’ll be able to see your record.

  • If you land an interview, be sure to follow these interview tips for felons, as well.

  • Highlight your unique skills and perspectives and how you plan to be a good, hardworking employee.

  • Consider going back to school to learn new skills or enroll in a trade school. This is a good way to show employers that you are committed to moving on from your past — and gain real-world training for in-demand jobs.

In some cases, a felony on your record is an automatic disqualifier for certain jobs. Unfortunately, in these cases, there’s not much you can do — your application may be rejected automatically.

But many companies are now open to hiring felons, and if you can set yourself apart from other applicants and prove you’re a hard worker, you can land a great job.

Plenty of jobs hire people with felonies — and it never hurts to apply

More and more companies are hiring felons, providing a welcomed second chance for millions of Americans. The list of jobs that hire felons above includes all of the most common industries and roles that are felon-friendly. But that doesn’t mean your options are limited to just those!

If you find a job that you are otherwise qualified for, it’s worth it to apply, even if the employer doesn’t explicitly list the role as felon-friendly. To find job opportunities in your area, simply head over to the Jobcase job board.

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