Regardless of how qualified you are, what experience you have, or what kind of skills you bring to the table, starting the job search with a felony conviction on your record can feel like an instant disqualification.
But if you know where to look, you can not only find a job as a convicted felon, but you can also find a high-paying job that helps you get ahead in life.
List of High Paying Jobs for Felons
Here are 30 high-paying jobs that you can still get as a convicted felon.
When you apply for a job, a background check or an application that asks if you’re a convicted felon is almost always standard – regardless of whether you’re working in retail, customer service, tech, or most other lines of work.
However, when you’re self-employed, there’s no background check or automatic disqualification to worry about.
Someone who is self-employed will be seeking out clients, and most of your customers will only care about what kind of experience you have and whether you can do what they’re hiring you to do.
Here are several self-employed jobs that you may want to consider as a convicted felon.
If you don’t have any technical skills to offer and you don’t mind physical labor, a lawn care service is one of the easiest ways to earn some quick cash, especially during the summer.
Once you’ve built up a client base, it’s possible to earn $500 to $1,000 per week.
You also may not need to go far to find clients – while you spread the word online, you can also ask neighbors and other locals if they need any help with their lawn care.
The one downside to a lawn care business is that you may need to make some initial investments.
Most clients will expect you to have your own equipment, but if you’re low on funds, you can always look for cheap but functional lawn mowers, weed eaters, and other equipments on sites like eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace.
Once you’ve started to turn a profit, you can then invest in more high-quality equipment.
Housekeeping/House Cleaning Career
If you’re looking for a manual labor job that isn’t seasonal, cleaning houses is another convenient start-up that doesn’t require a ton of fancy equipment or experience.
Start-up costs could be as low as $200 for basic cleaning supplies, and if you’ve got the right clients, it has the potential to earn you up to $500 to $1,500 per week.
If manual labor isn’t your thing and you’ve got certain technical skills, you can always pursue a career as a freelancer.
Even if you don’t have any experience yet, this is a great high-paying option for someone who’s got a natural affinity for writing, graphic design, or film editing.
Become a Freelance Writer
If you’ve got a functional laptop or computer, there’s almost zero investment involved in becoming a freelance writer.
From product descriptions to blogs and websites, there’s plenty of clients that need content – and if you’ve got some knowledge in a specific area, you can even create your own niche.
Most clients or companies will expect to see a portfolio of your work, so your first step might be creating some samples of your work to show off to your potential clients.
The estimated income for freelance writing can be extremely high, with some writers earning anywhere from $500 to $2,000 per week.
If sufficient time has passed since your conviction, you may be eligible to work as a contractor for delivery companies like DoorDash.
Not all delivery services will hire felons, but other services, like DoorDash, will hire felons if seven to ten years have passed since your conviction.
Working for a delivery service doesn’t require prior experience and the hiring process is usually quick and straightforward as long as you’re eligible.
You’ll also be able to work whenever you want, and the only thing you’ll need is a functional vehicle.
Delivery drivers can earn $25 or more per hour when they work.
If you’re not eligible for delivery work yet or you’ve just gotten out of prison or jail, you can also work as a telemarketer.
Many telemarketing companies don’t run background checks and as long as you don’t mind spending your day on the phone, this can be an easy paycheck for felons.
Telemarketing salaries can vary widely based on where and who you’re working for, with salaries ranging from $20,000 to $80,000 per year.
Film or Video Editor
Do you enjoy editing videos or films?
Whether you’ve got prior experience or a natural talent for video editing, there’s plenty of freelance work to be found as an editor.
While you may eventually be able to work on bigger projects, there’s plenty of people looking for freelancers to edit their YouTube videos, music videos, or short films – and you can use sites like Fiverr and Upwork to advertise your services.
Once again, you may need to put together a few samples so that potential clients can look at your portfolio.
On average, freelance video and film editors make around $23/per hour, with some freelancers making up to $70,000 per year.
Mobile App Developer
Do you know how to code and develop mobile apps?
If you’ve got these technical skills or you’re willing to learn, this is another freelance venture that can be extremely profitable.
As you get more experienced, mobile app developers can make up to $60 per hour.
Ride Sharing (Lyft/Uber)
With sign-up bonuses, financial incentives, and some drivers making $40,000 to $50,000 per year, there’s a lot of reasons to drive for Uber or Lyft – but can you do so as a felon?
While any rideshare service will run a background check that may disqualify most felons, you should be eligible to drive if you meet these requirements:
- You do not have a drug-related offense or DUI
- None of your offenses are related to driving without a license or insurance
- You don’t have any record of reckless driving or fatal accidents
Ultimately, it’s still up to the discretion of the rideshare service if they want to hire you – and their decision may be dependant on what your conviction is.
A non-violent felon may have a much greater chance of being hired than someone with a violent or serious felony on their record.
Full Time/Part Time High Paying Blue Collar Jobs
If you don’t want to be self-employed, there are still plenty of full-time or part-time blue-collar jobs that will hire felons, such as:
If you’re looking to make quick cash and you’re equipped to handle manual labor, construction jobs are a convenient route.
You can start as a day laborer at a landscaping or labor company, and if you enjoy the work, you may even decide to get your own contracting license.
Construction workers can make anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 per month, and depending on the job, you may even get paid the same day.
With salary estimates up to $50,000 per year, working as an HVAC technician can be a high-paying job for convicted felons.
As a technician, you may be expected to replace or repair air conditioning systems and ventilation – and because almost every home and building contains an HVAC unit, there’s no shortage of work for technicians.
Keep in mind that if you work for a company, you may need to be on-call 24/7 for emergency services, and you could be working in extreme heat or cold, depending on the time of year.
Many companies will require you to go to trade school to earn your certification, but you may also be able to get on-the-job training with the right company, too.
While you may need to pay for your own training at a trade school, welders can earn anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 per year.
Specializing in an in-demand field could earn you even more, and you could end up working on important projects like new buildings, bridges, or other infrastructure.
Tiling or Bricklaying
Tile installers, or tile setters, cut and lay down tiling in homes and commercial buildings.
While you’re starting out, many companies may provide on-the-job training as long as you’ve got a diploma or GED and transportation to the job site.
Tiling or bricklaying could earn you $30,000 to $40,000 each year on average.
Many pet grooming companies will hire convicted felons, and if you don’t mind caring for animals, this can be a rewarding career that earns up to $20 to $25 per hour.
Once you’ve got enough experience as a pet groomer, you can even open up your own pet grooming business and become self-employed.
For some pet groomers, this career can be a stepping stone to becoming a dog trainer, especially if you’ve got an affinity for animals.
Do you enjoy driving or being on the road?
As long as you don’t have a felony that has something to do with a commercial vehicle, it’s very possible for convicted felons to get their CDLs and become truck drivers.
A truck driver can make close to $70,000 per year.
Just like housekeeping, janitorial work can be another option for felons, and janitors can make up to $40,000 per year, depending on where you work.
Offshore Drilling and Oil Work
Oil and gas aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and small oil and drilling companies tend to overlook felonies on your record.
Although these jobs are often located in remote areas and can sometimes be seasonal, oilworkers stand to make $90,000 to $100,000 – making this one of the highest-paying jobs for felons.
Do you enjoy cooking or do you have experience attending culinary school or working in kitchens?
Private restaurants often hire felons at their own discretion, and if you’ve got the chops, you could become a cook in both a small diner or an upscale private restaurant.
Line cooks can make close to $40,000 per year, and the salary only gets higher for head chefs.
Full Time/Part Time High Paying White Collar Jobs
If you’ve already got experience or you don’t mind doing the training or schooling, there are also plenty of white-collar jobs that will hire felons.
Sales Representative for Wholesale Products
A sales rep for wholesale products sells goods to businesses, government agencies, or other types of organizations.
While it’s still up to the discretion of the employer, many sales companies won’t care about your record if you can prove you’re able to move product or show potential.
If you’re someone who’s charming or does well with people, this may be the career for you, and your salary could be as high as $50-70,000.
Computer Network Support Specialist
A computer network support specialist’s job is to troubleshoot, analyze, and maintain the productivity of computer networks – and in some cases, even provide technical help to specific clients or users.
While you will likely need a technical background, many employers may be willing to overlook a felony conviction if you’ve got the training and potential to do well.
Salaries for this position can be up to $65,000.
Senior Account Manager
If you enjoy working closely with clients and helping them grow their accounts, you may enjoy working as a senior account manager.
This job typically requires experience in the field, but if you’ve got the right skillset, you could earn close to $100,000 per year.
Customer Success Manager
A customer success manager helps customers transition from being prospects to actual users of a product, and it’s another people-oriented job.
On average, CSMs earn around $50,000 to $60,000 per year.
Search Engine Optimization
Do you have a background in search engine optimization or understand how search engines work?
If so, becoming an SEO specialist could translate into a profitable career, and your experience and job performance will often outweigh whatever is on your record.
Some SEO specialists work for companies and others are freelancers, but either way, you could earn close to $70,000 to $80,000 per year.
For felons that have a background in tech and development, working as a UX/UI designer could include a salary as high as $150,000 per year.
Digital Marketing Specialist
Digital marketing specialists help companies plan their digital marketing campaigns across the web and social media platforms, and you could earn as much as $75,000 per year.
For avid gamers that understand video game design and coding, game design could turn extremely profitable if you work for the right company – but you can also turn this into a freelance or self-employment opportunity too.
Game designers make up to $100,000 on average, with plenty of room for growth.
Creating and building websites can be profitable if you’re a freelancer or if you’re building websites for a specific company, with starting salaries around $50,000 to $60,000.
Mobile App Development
If you understand how to code and build mobile apps, you can take those skills to plenty of tech companies – or even freelance – which could earn you anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 per year.
Help Desk Support
If you don’t mind dealing with people all day, help desk support positons are great for anyone who has an understanding of tech – and not all employers may run background checks, or if they do, they may be willing to overlook your record if you have the right skills and potential.
Help desk support positions can have salaries around $40,000 to $50,000 on average.
List of Top Companies Hiring Felons
Some companies are vocal about their willingness to hire and work with felons, and some of the top organizations that are open about hiring felons currently include:
- Comcast Corporation
- Abbott Laboratories
- Verizon Communications
- Home Depot
- Intel Corporation
- Microsoft Corporation
Can an Employer Legally Not Hire a Felon for a Job?
The answer to this question is a little murky, and in some cases, it is illegal for an employer not to hire felons.
Under guidelines from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers cannot legally have exclusionary practices unless they’re related to the job.
For felons, employers cannot legally discriminate against someone’s criminal record unless their felony is relevant to the job.
For instance, it’s completely legal for a middle school to decide not to hire a convicted felon with a sex-related crime on their record.
A pharmacy might decide not to hire a worker who has recent drug-related felonies on their record.
However, if a construction company decides against hiring an ex-offender because they committed a welfare fraud felony over ten years ago, that could be an argument for discrimination.
Even with these legal protections in place, some companies are still wary about hiring felons, regardless of what the charge is.
Do Felons Get Paid Less for the Same Job?
No, felons do not get paid any less for working the same job as someone without a record – and if a company is trying to pay you less because you’re a felon, this could be classed as discrimination.
What You Need to Know as an Ex-Felon
Looking for employment as an felon, especially one that’s re-entering the workforce, isn’t always easy.
Here’s what ex-offenders should know when applying for new jobs.
1. Building a Resume
Building a resume can be difficult for felons, especially if you have a large gap in your employment while you served time.
Here are some quick tips for building a resume that will work in your favor:
- Don’t list your accomplishments or previous work in chronological order as this will only highlight gaps in employment or experience. Use a functional format instead.
- Tailor your resume to the employer you’re trying to impress, which means listing skills that you’ve learned. You can use skills that you learned in prison, such as learning to cook in the kitchen, and you don’t have to explicitly state that they’re from prison.
- Be careful about phrasing and avoid mentioning your record or time served on your resume. While you don’t want to lie or deceive an employer, you can mention the skills and experience you’ve picked up in a positive way. Stating that you’ve been to prison on your resume may cause your job search to suffer before you’ve got a chance to make a good impression.
2. Appearance Matters: How to Look More Professional
Making a good impression can make all the difference, especially when it comes to how your employer views your record.
Here are a few ways to look more professional:
- Wear a professional outfit, like a dress shirt, dress pants, or a blouse that shows you’ve put effort into your appearance
- Show up a few minutes early
- Keep your phone on silent during the interview
- Do a little bit of research on the company beforehand and ask your employer engaging questions
- Double-check that you’ve got everything you need, like your resume, portfolio, and any other documents
3. Interviewing Tips for Former Offenders
Depending on the felony, it’s not uncommon for your criminal record to come up – your employer may ask you if you have been convicted of a crime or run a background check on you.
While it’s up to you to tell, honesty is always the best policy.
Try to keep your explanations brief and direct, so your employer understands your crime, but you don’t have to give them every nitty-gritty detail about your sentence.
If you need to, try practicing your explanation beforehand so you’ll know what to say.
In the actual interview, you’ll want to stay as relaxed as possible.
Fidgeting and avoiding eye contact could signal to your employer that you’re hiding something, and you want to look as calm and collected about the situation as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some other frequently asked questions that people have about high-paying jobs for felons.
Will Costco hire felons?
Yes, Costco will hire felons – but they will generally use their discretion when looking at offenses.
Someone who has a sexual or violent felony on their record will likely not get hired.
Does Target hire felons?
Yes, Target will hire felons as long as their criminal record does not pose a risk to other employees or customers (such as a sexual or violent offense).
What kind of felons does Amazon hire?
Amazon will usually hire nonviolent ex-offenders, and will usually not hire anyone who has a charge related to sexual abuse, murder, theft, or drugs.
While finding work as an ex-con can be difficult, there are still plenty of high paying jobs that you can pursue – from blue collar jobs like construction or welding to freelancing and white collar work, there’s plenty of work opportunities for felons if you know where to look.