Roofing (and other construction) jobs are very easy to get for felons, and you can make $15-25/hr! This is because and owners almost never do Background Checks, as most roofing companies are owner operated small businesses. Most will not even ask you if you were convicted or have a record (more on this below).
What small roofing companies (mostly) care about is that you can do the job well, and preferably have a driver license. They also prefer that you don’t drink heavily and don’t do drugs – basically come to work sober and on time. Other than that, they will hire almost anyone! Many roofers will even pay cash, to avoid paying taxes and HIGH workers compensation premiums.
For many small companies the choice is – hire Foreigners or Americans. They would prefer Americans, but they can pay foreigners less. Besides being “patriotic” most roofers prefer that their workers communicate with customers easily. Especially if worker is a foreman / project manager. For these positions, roofing contractors prefer native English speakers.
For basic grunt work – contractors mostly care about labor cost, and don’t much care if you speak proper English or have a conviction. So roofing and construction in general, is one of the easiest jobs for felons to get!
How much can felons make, working in Roofing?
Roofing pay for felons mostly depends on where you live, and how much local going rate is. In general roofers make $12-20/hr. In coastal states, it’s more like $15-25/hr (more details here – scroll down to Labor Costs section). If you go UNION, you can start at more than $20, but then you pay taxes, and union dues. However, if you stick with the Union roofing job, you can be making as much as $40+ per hour! However getting into a Union job is very tricky, so for this guide, we will stick with NON-UNION roofing jobs. I do however recommend that you also research Local union jobs.
Your pay as a roofer, depends mostly on how well you work and your skill level. If all you can do is “laboring”, you will be stuck at $12-15 for long time. So i recommend that you learn installing shingles, as well as doing other (more skilled) roofing tasks, such as installing Single Ply / Rubber, and even sheet metal. Skilled roofers can easily find $20-25/hr jobs!
That is why getting a job in roofing is very easy for felons! So if you get a roofing job, you should always have positive attitude at work, be willing to work, AND show your boss that you are WILLING and ABLE to do more and better!
Finding Roofing Jobs for Felons
If you feel that you can handle roofing (it is hard work after all), just go to Google or open a local Yellow Pages book, and call EVERY roofing company in your area! Sooner or later you will find a job!
You should have a car: If you have a Car/Truck and valid driver’s license (with relatively clean driving record) you have a big advantage over other “job seekers” in same field. If not – either get car/truck if you can, or you will have to find work and figure out transportation to and from jobs. Often girlfriends drive roofers to work!
Many small roofing companies need roofers/laborers, and often (pretty much never) have an official hiring process, or an HR manager – let alone an actual job application or even a receptionist!
You probably want to avoid big contractors and/or commercial roofing companies. This is because they often do big projects / prevailing wage jobs (work for Local or Fed Government / Town) which require background checks, and often are unionized.
If you know how to install roofs – great. It will be easier for you to get hired.
If you don’t have any roofing experience, tell them you can work for FREE for 2-3 weeks to learn the trade, or offer a reduced salary (minimum wage for 1st month).
If you have a friend who is a roofer, ask him to teach you a little. Maybe take you on the job with him. He can tell the boss that you will be helping out for free, just to learn.
To be a roofer, and to make it a long term gig you need to have a PROPER ATTITUDE!
Not only you need to learn the skill – you should also strive to do good job. Work better and harder that other roofers (but not too hard, so they don’t start hating you). But don’t cut corners. Do things well, and your boss will like having you and will (probably) pay you more and keep you around longer.
My Personal Experience hiring Felons for Roofing
I’ve been a roofer and later roofing contractor for a 10+ years, and have worked with and hired (former and future) felons – let me explain.
Working with a Felon Roofer
The first felon I worked with was this kid who was short on cash and robbed (tried) a bank. Long story short – he got out after 1 year and was hired by the company I worked for at the time, and was my helper.
Basically this kid really f-d up, made a mistake, got caught and was paying the dues. But he managed to get a job with my company. This guy wasn’t a pathological criminal … He just took a wrong turn.
He was the best worker out of 4 helpers that company provided for me and my brother (we were the roofers 🙂 ). Also this guy had an ankle monitor and had to be home by 5 every day, so his GF drove up to pick him up at 4 every day.
Hiring felons for my own roofing company
At one point I had 8 guys working for me – 2 crews of 4. One consisted of out-of-high-school “kids” with no college prospects. One of these guys had a juvie record, and (most likely) went to prison after ending work at my company. Basically he was on of those guys who belonged in prison. He had no regard for law and order, was angry and aggressive, and committed small crimes for fun. In the end, he and his buddy stole a bunch of tools from us, and disappeared. Later I heard he/they went to prison.
But the point is – when we hired him (and his buddy), we did not even consider doing background check, and he was a decent roofer, while working for us.
Another guy working for us – also a “future” felon. Basically his GF was a little crazy and called cops on him for no real reasons. In the end, his “felony” was deportation for domestic violence. I doubt that there was any actual violence, but his green card was revoked and he was deported to Poland. So – not really a felon, but had a record …
Bottom line – I would hire felons again. But this time around I would be more selective of who I hire, and would avoid folks like the second guy, who was inclined to be in prison.
What you should take from this – It’s not hard to get a roofing job for felons. You need to be a good worker, “stop being a criminal” 🙂
Felons going into Business for themselves – Starting Your Own Roofing Business as a Felon
Finally, you can start your own company, as a felon! It is actually very easy to do, and if you have the right attitude (hard worker and are good at roofing) I would suggest this route, after you gain some experience.
You can make MUCH more working for yourself, versus being a laborer/shingler for someone else. However, it is a completely different topic, that cannot be explained in depth if few sentences. I will be publishing a separate post on How to Start a Roofing Business for Felons in few days. In the mean time – i do recommend that you do work for someone else for at least 6 months, to learn the trade. Starting your own business takes time and some cash (to invest into business & for living costs). And since most felons lack much cash – you should have a steady job, save up, buy tools and a truck, and then you can go on your own.
PS – since most of you reading this have a smartphone – take (good) pictures of the roofs that you do – you can later use this pics for references!
If this Roofer jobs for Felons guide was helpful or you have personal experience that you would like to share – let us know in the comments or through our contact form.
Cheers – Leo!