One of the biggest go to jobs for felons is trucking. This is something that most people with a criminal record can do, as as long as sufficient time has passed since the conviction date.
If you are a felon who has spent quite a few years behind bars, you may be able to get a trucking job, because most companies will NOT ask how long you have been out of prison for. However, you will still have to explain your lack of employment, and pass the background check.
Lets take a look at what it takes for a felon to become a truck driver, and where the best jobs are.
Get a CDL license
If you are considering this line of work, the first thing you need to do is get a CDL license. You must be at least 21 years of age to qualify and have at least a 10 year driving record. Note that fees and requirements for obtaining this license vary by state, and you need to contact your local DMV for specific instruction.
The good news is that in general having a criminal record does not prevent you from getting a CDL license and pursuing a career in commercial trucking.
However, there are specific felonies that may disqualify you from getting CDL license on the federal level:
– Misconduct in a vehicle
– Using a commercial vehicle to commit a crime
– Manslaughter using a vehicle
– Causing death through reckless driving
– Smuggling activities
– Assault with attempted murder
– Extortion and bribary
– Operating a motor vehicle under influence (BAC of .08% or more)
Note, each state may have additional felonies that would make you not eligible. Bottom line – without CDL, you cannot drive a commercial truck.
Applying for the job
The majority of large trucking companies such as Swift Transportation will have an online application that you need to fill out.
Before you go to fill it out, have the following information on hand:
– Social Security Number
– All your residential addresses over the past 3 years
– Current drivers license number
– Drivers license history for the past 3 years
– History of employment (up to 10 years)
– History of traffic accidents, violations, and / or convictions during the last 5 years (includes any – DUI, reckless driving convictions and license suspensions)
– Any military service history
As we said before having a criminal record or a felony conviction WILL NOT disqualify you from getting hired. However, you need to be 100 % honest about your history, when you are filling out the application.
Do realize that every company you apply with is required by law to conduct a very thorough background check on all applicants. So they will discover everything you may want to hide after digging through your driving history and all related arrests/convictions.
But again, the good news is that if your felony is does not involve a motor vehicle in any way, you have a strong chance at being employed.
Another piece of good news is that because there is such a shortage of professional truck drivers, many big companies are willing to hire people who only have a CDL learners permit and can provide training as well as help with obtaining the license.
How Much Do Trucking Jobs Pay?
Across the US, the average reported annual salary for a commercial truck driver with a Class A CDL license is $39,000-40,000. This is pretty good pay, considering the fact the median individual income across US is only around $30,000. So as a truck driver you can be earning at least $10,000 more.
The salary for top 10% of truck drivers is at least $58,000.
The highest paid are OTR (over the road) truck drivers. They can earn $65,000 – 73,000 per year. Walmart is known to pay the highest salaries in the entire trucking industry to its OTR drivers – about $71,500 a year, before bonuses.
Overall, there are a number of factors that will ultimately impact how much you will get paid. They include:
– your CDL license class
– commercial driving experience; veteran truckers get the highest pay.
– type of driving you do and cargo that you carry
– company you work for
– where you live
There are basically two types of pay structures – Local and OTR:
OTR (over the road) jobs
OTR means long distance hauls, across many states .. you get the picture – you go on the trip for 2-3 weeks at a time.
You get paid per mile – anywhere from $0.40 to $0.60 … sometimes a little less – sometimes a little more. The average is around $0.45-0.50 per mile. Most OTR truckers put in 2500 miles per week. So if you do the math, average weekly salary is $1,125 – 1,250. This is equivalent to $54,000-60,000 per year.
You get this kind of money only if you work for a a company, and not as an owner-operator or OO (meaning you have your own truck). Owner-Operator truckers make a lot more per mile, but often EARN LESS, after deducting all the costs (fuel, maintenance, insurance/bonding, other overhead).
As a felon without experience, you can start at around $0.38-0.40 per mile
Here is more info on local and OTR pay for truckers.
This is self explanatory – you come home every night. A good example of a local trucking job is driving for UPS or FedEx
Typical hourly rates in US are between $12 and $29 per hour. Clearly, there is a huge difference there, but the average is around $19 per hr (50th percentile so to say).
If you have a felony conviction and no prior experience, your starting pay rate will most likely be $12-14 per hour.
List of Top Trucking Companies
Most of these large companies require little to no commercial driving experience and some are even willing to pay for your training.
If you would like to contact any of them you may click on their link and it will take your directly to their website.
The following companies are known to hire felons with convictions that are 10 or more years old:
Companies that employ felons with convictions that are 7 or more years old:
Companies hiring convicted felons 5 or more years after release from prison
Companies that may offer employment to a felon on a case by case basis:
Job Outlook For A Commercial Truck Driver
While trucking, especially OTR is a very demanding, exhausting and often depressing work, its in very high demand. This is because trucker turnover is extremely high. The median age of a truck driver is 47 years old, and the industry is having an extremely hard time recruiting and retaining young drivers.
All this means that if you have a felony and are struggling to find steady employment, this may be a good opportunity for you.
Currently, there are as many as 200,000 long haul trucker positions open across the US. By 2020, the number of open positions is expected to reach 330,000!
Moreover, trucker salaries are growing at a rate of 8-12% per year, which is huge considering the fact that most other professions see an annual salary increase of around 0.5%.
There are also handsome sign-on bonuses that large trucking companies offer to recruit drivers. Typically, these can range from $1,500 -3,500. However, an experienced OTR driver can get a huge sign up bonus of up to $10,000.
For example, Roehl Transport offers to pay $10,000 sign on bonus to experienced OTR truckers with a CDL Class A license. You get paid the first $500 bonus after completing the first assignment, and then bonuses in the increments of $500 for every 10,000 you drive, until you reach a total of $10,000
Some negative features of OTR work
For many people who start driving long haul trucks, there is a huge lifestyle change that requires a serious mental and physical adjustment:
– For weeks at a time, day and night, you are crammed into a tiny space the size of a closet
– Tremendous pressure of making the delivery safely and on time
– Erratic sleep patterns, many truckers drive at night
– You spend the majority of your time alone, and its easy to get lonely and depressed
– It may be hard to be away from family and friends for weeks at a time
Can a woman get a job as a truck driver?
Yes!!! In fact, the truck driving industry is aggressively recruiting female drivers, offering large sign-up bonuses, training, and assistance paying for truck driving courses. Currently, there are only 6% of women employed as truck drivers.
This means that if you are a woman with a felony, and think you may be cut out for this lifestyle, trucking can become a steady source of income. This is an especially good opportunity if you are young, single and don’t have kids.
Other types of driver jobs
If trucking is not exactly your dream vocation, but you do like driving, there are a few other opportunities to explore:
–Tow Truck Driver – Many towing companies are small owner-operated outfits, and do NOT perform background checks. In fact, they would prefer someone with “experience” in dealing with unpleasant situations. You do need a CDL class A to drive a tow truck.
Ride Share Driver – can felons drive for companies like Lyft or Uber? … Hint – yes with limitations!