Aug 26, 2019
If you have a felony conviction and are struggling to get a good paying job, consider looking for work in fields such as construction, manufacturing, food processing, mechanical equipment, agriculture, transportation etc.
These jobs are known as “blue collar”, and they offer many benefits compared to other types of employment.
The biggest advantage for someone with a felony conviction is relative ease of getting hired for a blue collar position as well as much higher than minimum wage pay.
Lets take a look at different blue collar jobs you can consider, how much you will earn, and other job benefits.
What are blue collar jobs?
The term “blue collar” jobs was coined in the 1920’s, when workers were referred to by the type of clothes they had to wear to perform their jobs. Blue collar jobs were those that required manual labor and getting dirty.
Therefore, workers typically wore darker color shirts to work, as well as overalls and jeans. Thus, the term “blue”.
This is opposed to “white collar” jobs, which usually describes people working in offices, labs, hospitals, schools, etc.
Popular, well-known blue collar jobs are: mechanic, construction worker, electrician, plumber, masonry, mining, or manufacturing worker.
Many blue collar jobs require special training, skills and high intelligence. They also pay as well as or even better than other types of jobs.
List of 40+ Blue Collar Jobs for Felons
There is an abundance of blue collar jobs in pretty much any industry if you are willing to work hard. Large companies such as Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot are always looking for warehouse workers, fork lift operators, etc.
However, the problem with these types of jobs is that they are usually hard to get. This is because there are very strict hiring rules and background checks, which usually discriminate against people with criminal convictions. Many felons report going through rounds of interviews and still getting denied at the end because they fail the background check.
The other problem with these jobs is that its hard, physically strenuous labor for only minimum wage pay.
If you are interested in working with your hands, you are much better off looking for a job with a local medium or small size business in a particular trade.
These jobs are much easier to find, there is less competition, and hiring managers are more willing to hire qualified candidates even if they have a felony conviction.
43 Highest paying blue collar jobs are:
Air traffic controller
Nuclear power reactor operator
Power plant operator/dispatcher
Gas factory operator
Iron and steel worker
Pile driver operator
Signal and track switch repair
Aircraft equipment technicians
Agricultural equipment operator
Subway and street car operator
Petroleum pump system operator
How Much Do Blue Collar Workers Make?
Depending on the trade, your starting salary can range from $13-25 per hour. This is at least 40% higher than the minimum wage. On average, blue collar workers earn about $30-35 per hour, or $60-70K per year. Some jobs pay as much as $85-95K per year.
Most blue collar jobs offer hourly wages, as well as as opportunities for overtime. This means that many people easily earn 20-30% more than their base salary if they are willing to work more hours. This can include work in the evening, over night or on the weekend.
Skilled blue collar workers can easily earn a six figure salary, especially if they have worked in the industry for a few years. Today, blue collar jobs can pay as well as many office white collar clerical, medical or IT jobs that require a four year collage degree.
The easiest jobs to get are in roofing, painting, siding, landscaping and general construction. These companies are always looking for good workers and are willing to train people who don’t have prior experience in this field.
Automotive, mechanic, plumbing, electric, machine and equipment operators, etc and similar jobs may require both prior experience and a certificate from a training course in this field.
Still, small companies may be willing to give you a chance even without a certificate and may pay you a little less in the beginning. Large companies may be willing to offer training, and will still hire without prior experience, due to a huge shortage of workers.
If you are interested in making a career in one of these fields its best to get a professional degree and also a license if one is required. For example, master plumbers and electricians need to have a license in all states in the US. However, they easily make $60-80+ per hour.
In general, residential and commercial construction and related fields are great options if you have a dream of being your own boss. Many felons have worked as apprentices in these businesses, and then went out and opened their own successful companies. An owner of a residential roofing, siding, HVAC or plumbing business can easily earn $120-200K a year after establishing a good reputation and working for a few years.
Blue Collar Workers in Hot Demand = better job outlook for felons
Blue collar jobs are in very high demand all across the US. Even if the economy is not so great, many of these jobs are recession proof. This is because people cannot live with leaking roofs, broken faucets or toilers, lack of heat or lighting, etc.
Moreover, despite rapid automation, large factories and manufacturing facilities still heavily rely on assembly worker and equipment operators, maintenance and repair workers.
Therefore, workers in these trades still keep their jobs, especially if they are working for a small established business.
Since the 2008 recession, blue color jobs have steadily grown in demand. This is because there is a growing shortage of applicants and people who are willing and able to perform these tasks.
According the December 2023 report by the Conference Board, an organization which researches business climate in the US, there is an increasing shortage of blue collar workers across all industries due to the following reasons:
– baby boomers who used to fill these positions are retiring in very large numbers
– many people are leaving these fields because of disability claims, and are not returning
– students graduating from high school are enrolling into four year collages and are not interested in skilled trades
– these jobs have a stigma of being hard and dirty, which discourages people from applying
According the report produced by the Manufacturing Institute, between 2018 and 2028, there will about 2.4 unfilled manufacturing jobs.
Because of this shortage, many companies are willing to relax their hiring standards and increase their wages. All of this is great news for felons and people with criminal records. They have a much higher chance at employment in the skilled trades, as well as good pay that can help them support their families.
13 Benefits of blue collar labor
Felons looking for steady, high pay jobs should consider these great benefits that blue collar jobs can offer. Notably, many of these advantages are not available in other fields.
– High pay – average salary is 60K a year
– 2018 job satisfaction survey found 86% of blue collar workers were satisfied with their jobs
– Only a high school diploma or equivalent is required to be hired
– Less job competition than in other fields
– Many job openings both in small local companies and large corporations
– Opportunity to earn overtime pay and make more money
– Professional training opportunities paid for by the employer
– Good benefits, such health and dental insurance, paid vacations, 401K, etc
– College degree paid for in part or in full by the employer
– Potential to start your own business in fields such as construction, roofing, plumbing, residential electric and HVAC services.
– Willingness on the part of many employers to overlook the applicants felony conviction or misdemeanor charges.
– Annual increase in wages – some industries are as high as 4-5%
– Many jobs have a low risk of being replaced by robots