Here at Help for Felons we are very away of how difficult it is for felons who are out there looking for work. Sometimes it seems like jobs are scarce or that it is just too hard to get through the application and hiring process. We understand it can be discouraging. And in many cases, a person’s past offense may prevent them from landing the job they want, or maybe they’re just running into too much competition in their local job market.
But the good news—there are high paying jobs for felons out there, and with a ton of persistence, motivation, and a lot of research and applications, we believe you can absolutely find one relatively quickly. Below you will find a list of high paying jobs for felons!
High Paying Jobs for Felons
Why ‘high paying’ jobs for felons? Because for one, you deserve a great salary, don’t you? So it makes sense that if you are going to spend hours polishing your resumes and cover letters, and filling in all those online applications, then you should aim for the best paid positions!
That said, obviously certain jobs always tend to be a bit easier to land than others, so use your strategic judgement when deciding what the best options are. Review the below choices and consider which best match your current skill set or which you might want to learn more about, if you require a bit of extra training to get up to speed in that area.
If you don’t have any experience in the job you’re looking into, do your best to at least get documented training in that area; you have to have something to put on your resume’s previous jobs and experience sections…unless it is a completely entry level position with paid on-the-job training.
We also want to point out again, certain professions are more accepting of taking on felons, so we want to hone in on a few of those first. Okay, let’s get started…Obviously, professions may be broadly broken down into two unofficial categories: blue collar and white collar.
High Paying blue collar jobs tend to require more work with one’s hands, and are generally speaking more physical in nature than white collar jobs, which might require one to sit in an office most, if not all, of the day. However, one common myth is that white collar jobs pay more. That’s just not true!
Yes, the higher level ‘executive’ white collar jobs, such as upper management positions, certainly have a higher top range than most blue collar jobs offer, but for the average workers, an ‘average’ blue collar profession may the same or, in many cases, pay better than an ‘average’ white collar administrative-type job.
List of High Paying Jobs for Felons
Entry welding jobs may begin at just under $12 an hour, but can go up to $26 or more. Meanwhile, secretary/office support jobs begin around $13 per hour, but many don’t have a lot of potential for upward mobility.
Some welding jobs do give OJT (On The Job Training) but if you can obtain vocational training beforehand and get some experience under your belt, you might begin at a higher pay scale. There are many welding schools all over the United States. There’s also wide variety of options for welders, from working with steel, working on cars, working at construction sites… If you happen to live near the coast and are interested in a truly specialized type of welding, consider the fact that underwater welders make an average of $26.32, with a potential to earn more.
Many felons find working with their hands or doing physically demanding jobs to be very rewarding, so if you’re up for the challenge, consider welding!
Keep in mind as you read through these examples that salaries can vary widely from state to state, and city to city. This is fairly common knowledge, but it is important to remember as you do your homework and begin applying for jobs, so that there’s no unexpected shocks! If you live in Whitefield, Oklahoma but are reviewing salary ranges for San Francisco, you are comparing apples to oranges!
Tips for finding a welding job with a criminal record
- Start applying to small, locally owned welding shops. Many of them will not run a background check on you and will only be interested in the skills you bring to the table.
- Be prepared to take a welding test in order to demonstrate your skills.
- Make sure to mention other related skills you have like mechanical, pipe fitting and other construction skills.
Another great choice for felons who don’t want to sit in front of a computer all day! Most new electricians will work through a type of apprenticeship, until they can work on their own. This is a fantastic way to gain experience, learning directly from a specialist in the field during the course of their training, which will also incorporate in-class lessons. Electricians are categorized as either an Apprentice, Journeyman, or Master Electrician.
Since nearly everyplace on Earth is wired for electricity, there is literally an endless amount of jobs for qualified electricians. Apart from home electricians, there are options for working directly with construction power companies, but most tend to work in either manufacturing, construction, etc.
The average Electrician III salary hovers in the area of $53,000 to $66,000. A lot of felons find electrical jobs to be truly satisfying, because you are putting both your mind and hands to work! But bear in mind that licensing requirements for your state could potentially disqualify ex-convicts. Do your homework before signing up for a course!
Here’s a sector which continues to grow as newer technologies begin to replace legacy systems. Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment can be found in nearly all homes, office buildings, hotels, restaurants, etc. Vehicles of all types, from planes to cars, also utilize their own HVAC systems.
With increasing environmental regulations, technologies must keep up with the policy trends, and therefore there’s always something new to learn. However, those older systems will remain in place for years to come, too, so there are opportunities for work across the board.
Because of the breadth of options, it can be hard to pin down an hourly rate, but roughly speaking, an average is $13.93 – $30.63 an hour, with overtime obviously kicking that up considerably. Again, keep in mind this is a rough range, and specialization can ensure even better pay.
Median Aviation HVAC Mechanic I salary range, for instance, is between $37,324 to $51,037.
Felons are often drawn to this type of work because it allows them to hone their focus and skill on a large, often complex system.
Anyone who has worked in the carpentry trade can attest that it can be both challenging and rewarding work. For many felons, it is meaningful to spend their day building and creating something new, and carpentry certainly offers that opportunity.
Like the above-listed professions, there are several subcategories a carpenter might want to specialize in: drywall is a common one, as is flooring, framing, or cabinetry. Indeed, construction itself is about as broad a field as one could ever want to enter into, with a million paths to explore.
From small local jobs to mass-scale skyscraper projects, tunnels, bridges, there is literally no end to the possibilities a carpenter can explore. Like electricians, most carpenters will move through an apprenticeship to obtain proper training. Carpenters also enjoy a fellowship not often found in other trades, especially not in white collar jobs. The Carpenters Union is half a million strong and growing!
Carpenters Union membership isn’t required, but union workers tend to average higher wages, which the unions negotiate with the employers. This statistic is a little aged, but average annual salary for a union carpenter is listed as $76,000, or about $36.50 per hour. Not bad!
Again, we’re putting out these numbers as a rough glimpse; there are a hundred factors to consider, including location, level of experience, specialty, and in this case, union membership or not.
Depending on your age and prior conviction history, the military might be a seriously great opportunity!
The Army is currently changing its recruitment policies, so convicted felons are encouraged to look very closely at the military as an option, even if you hear that they don’t take felons. Times change, circumstances vary.
Speak to a recruiter; in fact, speak to more than one because even recruiters can be wrong sometimes. This author can attest to that (years ago, I was told I was a few months too old to apply for ROTC, but I wasn’t told there was an age waiver process for that situation).
The military service can be both rewarding and good paying at higher ranks. There are numerous training opportunities, paid college tuition, free medical insurance, and lots of travel opportunities (and I don’t mean that sarcastically).
Like the civilian sector, the military offers a nearly endless variety of career field options to choose from. There are administration specialists, mechanics, scientists, drivers, pilots, infantry, supply and logical personnel, medical technicians and doctors, intelligence and law enforcement troops, you name it!
Of course, naturally the first decision is deciding which branch to apply for and whether or not you might want to apply to an officer program or sign up as enlisted.
Enlisted personnel visit a local enlistment recruiter, often found in mall offices. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine recruiters are also easy to find online, and can help you review career options suitable for your age, educational background, and personal interests.
Note, if you are considering a path to becoming an officer, do not see an enlisted recruiter; you’ll want to specifically seek out an officer recruiter, usually located at one of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corp (ROTC) detachments at your nearby college or university. Not all colleges house an ROTC unit, however many do have loose ‘crosstown’ agreements with officer training detachments.
Pay very close attention to what your recruiter tells you, and read the documents they offer you to ensure you understand everything before signing and committing to military service. Unlike civilian jobs, once you are signed up for military service you cannot just give two weeks notice and quit if you don’t like it. There’s a service commitment clause which locks you in for a certain term of years, and failure to fulfill that commitment can lead to nasty consequences.
One last thing to consider…many civilian professions can be dangerous, and of course the military is no different. In fact, it can be extremely dangerous! Most servicemembers are subject to potential deployments into hazardous areas; it is a ‘profession of arms,’ meaning you will be required to handle a weapon and be ready to travel to a foreign country and perhaps be working in a hostile environment for a period of weeks, months, or even longer. But the level of comradery, the package of benefits, and the status of being a veteran after your service is over are all hard to beat!
Note, pay is broken down into Basic Pay, based on rank and years of service, Basic Allowance for Subsistence, and Basic Allowance for Housing. Members located overseas or in specialized career fields are also eligible for additional pays and bonuses…and one often overlooked benefit is that the military offers a pension after 20 years of honorable service. Thus a person who joins at age 18 and ‘retires’ after 20 years can receive a free paycheck each month, starting at age 38. Think of it as pay that you get for the rest of your life, after you’ve done your time!
For the foreseeable future, fossil fuels are going to continue to be utilized as the world’s major energy source. Yes, newer, cleaner technologies continue to be improved upon and exploited, but Big Oil and Gas aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. So it makes sense for felons to consider getting a job in the oilfields, because it is an area where oil companies will recruit you. Why? Because frankly, felons can handle a job that’s tougher than average!
Take oil rig operations. An operator will create and/or manage the frame and the equipment that sits over a well, to acquire the fossil fuel resources below ground. This is no easy task, and many manual labor workers aren’t able to get the job done. Felons, on the other hand, have demonstrated capability in this area, perhaps in part due to their high levels of resilience built up during terms in prison. Whatever the reason, felons can be a tough lot and that’s exactly the type it takes to tackle derrick operations.
One issue many workers do not like is that drilling rigs tend to be located in remote areas, away from heavily populated areas. But for a lot of felons, this is the perfect work condition, because of the sense of freedom or just an enjoyment of being in a wide open space after being cooped up behind bars. So a felon might consider this a ‘pro’ instead of a ‘con.’
Salaries range from $33,000 to $73,000.
In a similar vein is offshore drilling work, which, as the name implies, involves working in a remote locale. Generally one can expect to spend a few weeks at a time on an offshore rig, which again is a circumstance many people have trouble with but felons might find easy to adapt to. Most such rigs are found in the Gulf of Mexico or up in the Alaskan region, which can be a beautiful place to live if one doesn’t mind the cold temperatures.
Wind Energy Technician
Perhaps you desire to work in a more environmentally-friendly energy sector? Then we have a great alternative for you! Wind energy is an ever-expanding field to get involved with, and as long as you don’t get skittish being high up in air, this could be an interesting career choice. Job growth is expected to be high in the next decade, and thus the need for skilled technicians will be on the rise, too.
But a lot of folks haven’t looked much into this area of work, which is why competition could be low during these upcoming years. In other words, now is a great time to get in, whether one has a felony conviction or not! The average yearly salary for a wind turbine tech is over $50,000.
Commercial Truck Driver
We’ve all seen the ads for companies hiring drivers, and many of them offer paid training. But trucking isn’t easy, which is why there’s a high turnover rate…which is why they are always hiring new drivers!
Also, of course, interstate commerce is a massive industry and online buying trends are revolutionizing the way consumers buy things, altering the landscape of the entire supply-distribution network on a national scale.
So truck driving jobs are always out there, waiting for anyone, including felons, who are willing to undergo the training, get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), and be flexible enough to start small if necessary. In fact, smaller companies are often less selective in their hiring process, meaning that there is less scrutiny or perhaps no background check needed.
Your criminal past history, in these cases, won’t be a problem to worry about. But, for persons who have limitations upon being able to travel out-of-state, be wary! For instance, for people on parole, it is never a good idea to take a job which could cause you to violate your conditional release terms!
Various sources cite a wide range of salaries for this career, anywhere from $40,000 up to over $70,00 for private commercial fleet truckers. Not an easy job, but certainly not bad money when operating at the upper end of that spectrum!
Network Support Specialist
Information technology (IT) is another area where felons have a chance to break in (no pun intended).
Businesses both large and small rely on private networks to run their companies behind-the-scenes, and these networks require a fair amount of maintenance once they’re set up. Network support specialists will always have a place in the modern business world, becoming nearly as common as secretaries but usually better paid!
If you like testing and troubleshooting computer networks, and have a knack for IT work in general, these jobs average about $55,000 per year but can also lead to better paying advanced positions like Project Management.
Marketing is certainly an industry which requires people with people skills! If you have a talent for understanding human behavior and what motivates people to take action and buy things, marketing could be perfect for you.
A lot of talented convicts, in fact, were successful hustlers prior to being convicted, because they do have an innate understanding of what drives people to do the things they do. A good marketer has to be able to figure these things out in order to turn casual onlookers into paying customers…to ‘convert’ them, using the lingo of the business. Of course, these days marketing is mostly done online.
It’s a brave new world of social media ‘content marketing’ and ‘customer funnels,’ but the concepts are the same. The only thing different is the method of delivery, and the need for innovative, charismatic marketers is as strong as it ever was.
Because some marketers may receive commissions or bonuses, it can be hard to pinpoint a salary, however we can say the average is about $65,000 a year.
If you think about it, writing is one of the most flexible careers a person can get into. A writer can work from anywhere, at any time. Many writers work independently or telework, meaning they work from home and/or work freelance. Upwork is a great option that many felons utilize to find jobs with no background checks!
If you have a laptop and a WiFi connection, you’re able to get up and running as a writer. That’s not to say it doesn’t require training and experience, but frankly writing is a skill which we can hone through self-study, paying attention to what and how we read the writing of others, and practice, practice, practice!
Communication is one of the things every person on Earth does nearly every day, and businesses of all stripes require good communicators, especially good written communicators. From website and marketing copy to news journalism and magazine article writers, there’s an endless stream—and endless demand—for good written content.
Of course many companies offer full time jobs for experienced writers, but for those starting out, freelancing is a great way to gain experience and exposure and build up a portfolio. Some freelancers are able to earn enough that they can survive on their own, especially if they work in an area with a low cost of living. Indeed many writers live abroad, working online for dollars then exchanging for the currency of the country they reside in. Thus a person making $1 online from writing might be able to exchange that for three or four times that amount in the local currency, a neat trick known as geo-arbitrage!
Another creative job which can be done either full time or as a freelancer is graphic design. This usually requires a more formal style of training than writing, especially if one is utilizing the latest technology. However, there are no licensing requirements and no obstacles to overcome when getting into this profession. Felons can easily become graphic designers and land good paying jobs if they can demonstrate their skill and proficiency.
As with writing, most businesses employ some sort of visual marketing in their advertising strategy. Magazine covers, social media ads, website imagery, info-graphics, posters…the list is fairly endless and many felons are drawn to the potential to work for themselves and by themselves. You don’t need a degree in graphic design to get started, and an entry level worker can reasonably expect to make about $40,000 a year. As with any job, the more talent you have, the more you should be able to earn!
Administrative specialists, secretaries, receptionists…these are all frontline office workers, usually the first person a potential client has with a business. Whether it is answering phone calls, responding to email queries, or greeting customers as they walk in the front door, all of these jobs have one thing in common: they require excellent people skills in order to be successful.
Very few companies want to hire a person for these types of jobs if that person doesn’t give off a great ‘first impression.’ This, of course, can be subjective, but by and large businesses want a somewhat conservative appearance and pleasant manners in the person they select for these jobs. If that’s you, and if you don’t mind working with a fairly constant stream of customers in-person or via phone or email, then receptionist, admin, or secretarial careers could be the perfect thing for you!
Most involve a fair amount of word processing or other basic software use, and in some cases handing cash or credit card payments. You might also expect to be given an assortment of ‘additional duties’ to juggle, so add multitasking to your list of skills needed.
Many such positions only offer a few dollars an hour over minimum wage, however this depends on location, size and type of organization, and professional experience. It’s possible to hone your skills and work your way up to greater positions of authority as you learn the ropes and also gain new network connections for yourself…certainly one of the best advantages to working on that front line!
Owning Your Own Business
We’d be remiss if you failed to mention the obvious here, which is that many felons are successful business owners! If getting a job seems tough, creating your own is a whole lot tougher! But at least you’ll know who your boss is and can always rely on them to have your back. When you work for yourself, you know what to expect for your main employee.
Being a small business owner is a huge responsibility if you support a family, too, because it can be hard to generate sufficient income in the first years. It may also take up far more of your time than a standard 40 hour workweek job. But many business owners wouldn’t give it up for anything.
These days, there are several franchise opportunities for those who don’t want to start from scratch, but franchises can be costly to buy. Still, with a secured bank loan or seed money from friends and investors, a franchise is often the way to go because you are buying into an existing, trusted brand name versus creating a new, untested product or introducing a newly minted service agency.
Whichever way you go, Help for Felons is interested in your success and we hope this article helps you find the perfect new job…even if it is one you create for yourself!