Many people with a criminal record come to us and ask “Are there any good jobs for felons?”
The short and reassuring answer is – Yes, of course there are companies that hire felons! The long answer is that you need to know what type of work you have the best chances of getting, because MANY jobs are not open to ex cons.
When you are out looking for work, your first instinct may be to apply for a job at a local big box store, such as Walmart, Costco (which has a $14/hr starting pay), Home Depot, etc. or a fast food chain restaurant, such as McDonald’s or KFC, etc.
You may be disappointed and shocked when all of these places turn you down. The reason is simple: these are big corporations and their hiring policies is not felon-friendly. They have hundreds of other applicants to choose from who don’t have a criminal past.
Background check for employment
What you need to understand is that most entry-level, minimum wage positions (under $11-12 per hour) in big corporations are much harder for felons to get than similar jobs in a smaller company.
This is because in most of these jobs, be it retail or food service, you will need to have direct contact with customers. Employers get very nervous about this and don’t want to run the risk of exposing their clients to a felon.
Another reason of course is the background check. Even if you do well on the interview, the corporate background check is very extensive, and the policy is usually to turn down everyone who fails the background check.
Even if its been 10 years or more since your conviction, many of these jobs will turn you down, even though on their applications they state that they are an equal opportunity employer. This is because many states report criminal charges that over 10 years old and these still show up on the background check.
Having said this, you should still APPLY to all local open positions in the area, where you would be qualified to work. The more you apply, the higher your chances that someone will hire you, despite the felony charges.
In many instances, if you have a marketable skill (such as computer related, or construction), it will often be easier to do freelance work online, or start your own business. In this case, you can avoid the background check all together.
Best jobs for felons
Now you may wonder – are there jobs where I have a stronger chance of being hired with a felony?
Indeed, there are! Any job where you don’t have direct contact with customers is a better fit for a felon. The good news is that these jobs often pay better ($12-30 per hour) and usually require some technical skills and/or knowledge.
For example, many factories like to employ excons, because these companies take advantage of the federal tax breaks they receive from hiring a felon.
Don’t worry, your opportunities are not limited to factories alone. Other positions such as a truck driver, electrician/plumber apprentice, building/roofing contractor, taxi driver, food or package delivery, construction and trade jobs, data support/analyst, etc may be available, if you have the right skills and are willing to learn.
Moreover, if you get higher education you will be more likely to land a job despite your felonies. Mostly because those with an education have a broader range of skills and past professional experience.
If you don’t have an education, we strongly recommend taking classes at a local technical college or trade school. Many offenders that we know are taking engineering classes. Within a year they are working in a factory making around $15-17 an hour. We have seen this time and time again.
Coding, computer programming, accounting and graphic design skills are also in high demand in the current work market place.
Here is a list of additional employment opportunities to consider
When you look for jobs, try to apply to places that may skip the background check or will do a very limited one.
As you may have already discovered, failing the criminal background check is the SINGLE factor that prevents most felons from finding decent paying employment, or any job at all for that matter!
Small businesses that employ felons
It may come as a surprise, but many small owner operated business are often willing to give felons another chance. Of course, this depends on what your past crime is, the circumstances around it, as well as your overall knowledge and skills.
As you will see from the list, these business are usually professional trade or construction companies, that are always looking for new workers. The owner wants to see someone honest, very hard working, punctual, and eager to learn new skills.
If you are willing to get on the job training, eventually you can get a much better paying job at this or a different (larger) company as a foreman or project manager ($30+ per hour).
- Lawn care
- Truck Driving
- Food delivery from a local restaurant
- Heating & Cooling
- Roofing & Siding
- Hanging Drywall
- Pet Grooming
- Brick or Tiling
- Basic Yard Work
- Cleaning – Home and Commercial
- Hi-Tech Freelancing
- Online / Internet Marketing
- Ride Sharing (Lyft / Uber)*
Large corporations that hire felons
This is an updated list of large private corporations and government agencies that have a track record of hiring people with felonies (no sex offenders or violent crimes) for entry level positions.
- Ace Hardware
- Allied Van Lines
- Allstate Insurance Company
- American Greetings
- Andersen Windows
- Apple Inc.
- Avis Rent-A-Car
- Avon Products
- Bed, Bath & Beyond
- Best Western
- Black & Decker
- Blue Cross & Blue Shield association
- Braum’s Inc.
- Budget Rent-A-Car
- Cambell’s Soup
- Carl’s Jr.
- Carrier Corporation
- Caterpillar Inc.
- Community Education Centers
- ConAgra Foods
- Dairy Queen
- Deer Park Spring Water co.
- Delta Faucets
- Dole Food Company
- Dollar Rent-A-Car
- Divizio Industries
- Dr. Pepper
- Dunlop Tires
- Embassy Suites
- ERMCO, Inc.
- Family Dollar
- Fed Ex
- Firestone Auto Care
- Flying J
- Fruit of the Loom
- General Electric
- General Mills
- Golden Corral
- Hilton Hotels
- Home Depot
- In-N-Out Burger
- Jack in the Box
- Kelly Moore Paints
- Kraft Foods
- Longhorn Steakhouse
- LSG Sky Chefs
- Lyft *
- Metals USA
- Miller Brewing Company
- The New York Times
- Olive Garden
- Quad Graphics
- Phillip Morris Inc.
- Red Robin
- Salvation Army
- Sara Lee
- Sears & Roebuck Co. (SEARS is now in bankruptcy, and will likely disappear completely)
- Shell Oil
- Toys “R” Us (Toys’R’Us is now in bankruptcy, and will likely disappear completely)
- Trader Joes
- Tyson Foods
- Uber *
- US Steel Corporation
- Volunteers of America
- Wyndham Hotels
* Getting a job at Lyft / Uber is a hit or miss for most felons. While basic requirements for employment state that non-violent criminal record older than (5-7) years is ok, many of our readers report that they have to jump through additional hoops, once their background check comes in.
Also, even if you get accepted to drive for a Ride Sharing service, you need a fairly recent vehicle.
Oil companies hiring felons
If none of the local companies want to hire you because of your felony conviction, consider going to work for an oil company. They are more open to hiring felons and the pay is very high ($30 per hour+) because these are very challenging jobs and very few people want them.
Many companies, such as ExxonMobile, also offer apprenticeships and on the job training to attract candidates that are interested in these jobs.
Jobs in the oil/fracking industry include:
Fracking equipment operator
Oil field operator
Hot oil operator
Water transfer operator
The oil industry is booming in the US and its continuously creating new jobs to keep up with the growing demand for oil.
This is good news for felons looking for work, because they have a much higher chance of getting hired in the oil sector, compared to other industries.
List of oil companies that accept employees with felony convictions
The following fracking oil companies are hiring felons to fill many on the positions that are currently in extremely high demand in the fracking industry.
Honstein Oil and Distributing
Arnold Oil Company Fuels
Most of the oil jobs are located in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, California, Utah, Colorado, North Dakota, Wyoming, New Mexico and Alaska.
Improving your credit score can help you get a better job
A little known secret is that many companies like to run a credit check on a potential applicant to see if they have good credit. This indicator helps hiring managers determine how trustworthy someone is. Of course, many felons struggle with really poor credit and have credit scores that are bellow 300!!!! This fact in addition to the background check really lowers a felon’s chances of getting a job.
However, while there is very little most ex cons can do about their background check, there is A LOT to be done about repairing your poor credit. Yes its very hard and takes mindful spending, time and effort. However, many people have bounced back from really bad credit and even bankruptcy, so you can do it if you put your mind to it.
If you are determined to fix your credit, read our step by step guide on how to get from a low to an excellent credit score.
Best of luck in your job search. Let us know your experience with any of the above companies, or a company that we should add to this list.
If this article has helped you out in anyway please share it on your social media or email it to other felons that you may know. Together we can find good work and get a fresh start in our lives!