Image of a felon at work and a felon getting a job. The caption reads "high paying jobs for felons."

Finding a high paying job with a felony can seem impossible. Let me guess… You have been turned down how many times because of your background check? Oh only 37 times…

Let us cut through all the bull $#^& and allow me to teach you how to find a real, high paying career. In my mind there is a big difference between a job and a career. A career will allow you to move up and make more money as time goes on. A job is… Well something you get through each day to make a little money.

The Best High Paying Jobs For Felons

The best high paying jobs include those that will not run a background check or have leniency with those that have a criminal record. Some of these careers include the following.

  • Self-employment
  • Welding
  • Web Development
  • Carpentry
  • Freelancing
  • Graphic Design
  • Plumbing
  • Cleaning or Maid Service
  • Masonry
  • Landscaping
  • Military
  • Oilfield
  • Truck Driver
  • Roofer

List Of High Paying Jobs For Felons

Let’s take a look at these felon friendly careers at depth. We will explore where to get free or low cost training, who to apply with so your felony background is not an issue and how much you can make.

1) Self-Employment

This may sound crazy, almost impossible, but being self-employed and running you own business is the best career path for felons’ hands down. No, you do not need a bunch of money, yes you need to be a self-starter and the possibilities are endless.

Please… Please do not dismiss this the idea of becoming self-employed. There are so many low cost start up business that you make a lot of money at it is crazy. One word of caution though! You must really want to want independence, be self-driven and an extremely hard worker to make this work. If that is not you then I suggest skipping this section.

Let us take a good look at the best and low cost self-employed career paths for felons.

Lawn Care (Self Employed)

Can you mow grass and run a string trimmer? Get yourself a used push lawn mower, gas can and a string trimmer. Have a bunch of cards or flyers printed up and go door to door. You literally can fit any push mower in the trunk of any car with some imagination.

If you can make $25 dollars per lawn and can do eight a day, five days a week your making $1,000 dollars a week, mostly CASH.

You can build off this startup to make it bigger and better. Save your money and get a riding mower so you can mow even more yards and take on large commercial contracts. This is a real “felon friendly” career with unlimited growth potential. If you live in an area where it snows you can switch over to snow removal in the winter.

Owning your business means no background check and your felony conviction will not hold you back!

Check out this video if you think a lawn care career may be right for you. Watch the entire video… This information is where your career will start and is invaluable!

Housekeeping/House Cleaning Career (Self Employed)

This is another super low cost start up career where you can make serious bank! With social media, flyers and business cards getting clients is easier than it ever has been. Appearance is key in this career as you will in peoples houses cleaning. This is one of the best careers for felons because the income potential is huge. Start small and work your way up as you gain references and confidence. Have a plan and work your butt off and you will make it to the top.

The income potential for a cleaning professional can range from $500 to $3,000 per week.

Check out this video and watch all of it if you think you may be interested in making a career of it. Chalked full of excellent advice, make this your first of many steps in changing your life.

Freelancing Career (Internet Based) (Self Employed)

What is a freelancing career? Contract work involving computer and/or creative skills to produce content for website owners. Example, a website owner needs an article written about “Ten Shopping Tips to Save You Money.” You would write the article and then get paid for writing it. Freelancing can be more than just writing articles, here is a list of skills you can freelance with.

  • Writing
  • Graphic Design
  • Web Design
  • IT Support
  • Autocad
  • Photography
  • Customer Service
  • Administrative Work

How do you find these freelance jobs? There are a number of websites where you can connect with companies and people that need your help and skills. These include Upwork, FlexJobs, Fiverr, GURU and Outsourcely. There are no background checks so this is a wonderful felon friendly career. Even if you do not want to build a career around freelancing it can be an awesome way to earn some extra money.

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!

If you have an interest in freelancing listen to this woman’s story. It is chalked full of information, tips and income potential.

3) Landscaping Jobs

Landscaping companies are a dime a dozen and most of them are small businesses with only a couple employees. Many small landscaping companies will not run a background check making this a good high paying job.

Image of someone working on landscaping.

An advantage of starting a landscaping career is that is something you can learn and then end up doing yourself. The average pay for landscapers is about $14.50 per hour or more with experience.

4) Carpentry Jobs

Carpentry is not just framing and building houses. Cabinet makers, furniture shops and finish carpenters. Even if you do not have any experience you can get some. Many community colleges have low cost carpentry classes where you can learn the basics.

Do not go looking for a job at a large construction company, they will run a background check. Go to small custom home builders, construction companies, cabinet makers and furniture builders. A lot of these places will not run a background check or if they do you will be able to talk with the owner in person. If they think you will add value to their company then they will hire you.

The pay for carpenters can range from 15.00 – 35.00 dollars per hour.

5) Coding Jobs

This is a career that anyone can learn on their own if you have a computer and some time. Coding and website development is a huge industry that is in demand. You can work from home, do freelance work, or build websites for yourself and earn money from advertising revenue. There are tons of options and makes this one oh the highest paying jobs for felons.

There are many places you can learn to code for free or little cost. The pay for coders can range greatly from $30,000 to $150,000 per year.

6) Website Developer Jobs

Do you know how websites make money? Did you know people will pay you a lot of money to advertise on a website you own and/or create? There is serious money in website development and they are very easy to build. You can learn to build a website easily with free online resources in a matter of hours. Sounds easy right?

The truth is that it takes many hours of work to create a website and there is a learning curve to it. The other truth is that your felony record won’t hold you back.

There is a million free resources on the internet that will teach you everything you need to know. You can make a excellent, high paying career in this niche. Here are some great resources about building websites and making money from websites.

If you have a computer and are willing to work hard you can make a great career for yourself. This type of job can range greatly in pay.

7) Welding Jobs

A career in welding can be a good choice for felons since there are many small welding shops located around every corner. You will need to some training though before anyone will hire you. Many community colleges offer low cost evening classes. You will need to learn how to MIG and Stick weld and be able to use a plasma cutter and torch.

Image of a man stick welding a pipe. He is wearing a leather welding jacket and welding helmet.

Do not apply to large welding companies or construction companies since they will run a background check. Look for smaller shops that have a few employees, it is most likely that they will not bother with a background check at all. If they do then at least you can talk with the owner and explain your past rather than having someone in a corporate office deny you automatically.

Welders often earn good money even in small welding shops and is considered to be one of the higher paying careers for felons.

Keep in mind the following when looking for a welding job.

  1. 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.
  2. Be prepared to take a welding test in order to demonstrate your skills.
  3. Make sure to mention other related skills you have like mechanical, pipe fitting and other construction skills if you have them.

8) Truck Driver Jobs

You need to use caution here. Some felonies will keep you from becoming a truck driver so you need to be careful before you ever spend a penny on getting a CDL. It is no secret that most truck drivers make a decent living and never have to worry about finding work. I have a number of articles about truck driving with a felony and I suggest that you read over everything if have an interest in making this into a career.

Many trucking companies, if not all will pre-hire you, meaning that they will agree to hire you if you get your CDL. Call them and talk with a recruiter and they will work with you to get pre-hired. Make sure you tell them about any felony convictions, any convictions actually. This gives you a decent guarantee that you will have a job if you get your CDL.

Here is a list of trucking companies that will consider hiring felons.

9) Roofing Jobs

Well… This might not be the job for everyone but it is a good career for felons since a lot of roofing companies are small and locally owned. I can tell you though that roofing is really hard, hot work. If you are not afraid of heights or hard work go and visit some of your local roofing companies. Many of them will hire you on the spot as a laborer. If you work out they will promote you and pay you more. Roofers can make anywhere from $12.00 per hour on the very low end to $30.00 per hour.

Image of a roofer on top of a roof replacing shingles.

10) Masonry Jobs

A job in masonry can pay well and be a long term, life long career for felons. Like most construction jobs there are a lot of smaller companies that do masonry work and are flexible with felony convictions and/or criminal records. Being a mason is a broad term. Within masonry you could be a brick layer or a stone mason or any number of other specialties.

The pay ranges greatly and when you first start you will be a basic laborer. As your skill and knowledge grows you will move up and earn more. Being a good mason, with a variety of skills can turn into a very high paying career. It is possible to get hired on with no experience or previous training.

11) Military Career

It is hard to join the military with a felony and every branch is different. You are going to have a uphill battle the entire way but is possible in SOME situations. Here you can find some information about each branch of the military.

The Army is the most lenient when it comes to considering the nature of the felony. Ultimately, the Army is the largest branch and has the most jobs that need to be filled. It is important to keep in mind that it is possible that the Army could reject you while another branch of the military could accept you into their ranks.

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!

If you are passionate about making a career out of the military then talk to a recruiter and start the process. It won’t cost you anything but a little bit of time and patience.

12) Oilfield Jobs – Drilling Rigs, Fracking and Support Services

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.

When you are looking for a job in the oilfields avoid the large companies like Halliburton. Look for smaller drilling companies since they are known for overlooking felony convictions.  

There are several downsides to working in the oilfields.  One issue many workers do not like is that drilling rigs tend to be located in remote areas, away from heavily populated areas. The other problem is that it is a very up and down business. When it is up companies hire like crazy and when it is down they lay off.

Salaries range from $33,000 to $73,000 and you can search for oilfield jobs on rigzone.

13)  Electrician Jobs

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 high paying 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 salary hovers in the area of $53,000 to $66,000. But bear in mind that licensing requirements for your state could potentially disqualify felons. Do your homework before signing up for a course!

14) HVAC Jobs

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. If you have a small local HVAC company near you talk to them and see what they say.

15) Graphic Designer Jobs

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, infographics, posters…the list is fairly endless and many felons are drawn to the potential to work for themselves and by themselves. Being self employed can often be the highest paying career for felons and even non-felons.  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!

Tips for finding good paying jobs

Why did I write this article about ‘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 finding a job, and filling in all those 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 choices I have outlined in this article 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.

  1. If you don’t have any experience in the job you’re looking into, talk to some of the small companies in your area. See if they will hire you anyways or if they would like to see you with some formal training.
  2. I also want to point out again, certain professions are more accepting of taking on felons. The easiest to get and high paying jobs are in construction
  3. Do not forget about the first three jobs I listed, lawn care, cleaning and freelancing. These are self employment options where you can make a ton of money and not have to worry about your felony charges.

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!

I wish you all the best in your job search!