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Jobs for Drug Offenders

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A criminal drug conviction can completely change a person’s life with negative consequences for many years. Perhaps the most significant challenge comes in finding a job after a drug conviction.

Felons wonder if anyone will hire them. This blog post will address what jobs are available for drug offenders and the following points;

  • The Importance of Staying Sober
  • Drug Convictions
  • Effects of a Drug Conviction on a Career
  • Careers that May be Challenging to Enter
  • Careers that May be Easier to Enter
  • How to Deal with a Drug Offense on a Job Application
  • Making a Case For Employment


The Importance of Staying Sober

As you already know, substance abuse can quickly and easily ruin your life.

Without your own substance abuse problems, it’s unlikely that you’d have a felony at all and you wouldn’t be struggling right now to find employment.

If you feel tempted to start using again or have decided that the only escape from your problems is to begin using, that needs to be addressed before anything else.

If you are someone or have a loved one who is dealing with substance abuse – PLEASE make a free call to 866-945-2509 for assistance finding the help you need.

At this point in time, the main issue for you or your loved one isn’t finding a job….it’s dealing with the substance abuse problem.

Drug Convictions

Possession of drugs can lead to serious legal charges. Possessing drugs with the intent to distribute them is an even more serious offense. Finding a lawyer will be crucial in any of these circumstances.

Drug possession and drug distribution offenses can result in life-altering changes involving drugs like:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Illegal prescription drugs

Being caught with drugs other than marijuana may lead to an automatic felony conviction with many life-changing effects. A drug conviction may involve:

  • Loss of a driver’s license
  • Probation
  • Fines
  • Prison time

Even after these terms have been satisfied, there will still be a criminal record for the remainder of a person’s life.

Typically, a misdemeanor conviction will remain on someone’s record and be available for public viewing for three years before it can be expunged. A felony conviction will generally remain on a person’s record and be available to the public for five years before it can be expunged.

Effects of a Drug Conviction on a Career

There will be drastic effects on job opportunities for a felon with a drug offense. There are a number of reasons why it’s challenging to get a job with a drug conviction.

Those with a drug offense often have a substance abuse or addiction problem. As those who have dealt with addiction discover, relapse can and does occur, which could impact any job.

Prospective employers will usually ask about a criminal record and conduct a background investigation because they want to hire someone they can trust. An employer will review someone’s criminal record to determine if the type of crime involved in the conviction has any bearing on the job position.

A drug-related felony due to possible addiction causes major doubt for employers. A criminal conviction for a drug offense can end someone’s chances of obtaining a job in certain fields, including:

  • Law enforcement
  • Legal practice
  • Nursing
  • Commercial driving
  • Dealing with children

Drug offenses can also damage someone’s career as many professions require certification, licensing or registration with a governing board. Unfortunately, a drug offense can lead to suspending or revoking someone’s ability to practice their profession in a given state.

Careers that May be Challenging to Enter

In order to be eligible for employment with many federal agencies, an applicant must meet certain standards. Situations that may disqualify a candidate for a federal position include:

  • Conviction of a felony
  • Violation of the federal employment drug policy

Any applicant who uses, misuses, or abuses drugs and other substances may be ineligible for employment with the federal government.

Candidates for many federal government jobs cannot have used marijuana within three years preceding their application for employment. The use of marijuana for medical reasons, even if prescribed by a licensed physician, does not change this.

A candidate cannot have used any illegal drug other than marijuana within the 10 years preceding the date of the application. No illegal drugs or controlled substances may have been:

  • Sold
  • Distributed
  • Manufactured
  • Transported

A candidate cannot have used anabolic steroids without a prescription from a licensed practicing physician within the 10 years preceding the date of the application period.

The Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) states that a serious drug offense is one that involves the manufacture, distribution, or possession with intent to sell of a controlled substance carrying a prison term of at least 10 years.

As previously mentioned, it will also be difficult to enter or continue in any career that requires certification, licensing, or registration with a board to practice. Because there are different requirements for each type of job and application, felons should look into the exact position they’re interested in to find out more.

Careers that May be Easier to Enter

It’s easy to become frustrated and discouraged when applying for jobs even under the best circumstances. Having a drug conviction only makes this even more challenging.

However, there are a number of areas in which a drug-convicted felon can find work. Each of these involves some education and training specific to that field.


There are many college degrees that lend themselves to felons getting an education and finding employment. These include areas such as criminal justice, engineering, nursing, and social work.

A felon can pursue any degree he or she wants. Although 60% of colleges consider criminal history in their admissions process, there isn’t a standard policy regarding background checks.

Any felon that wants to get a degree can find a college that will accept him or her. The challenge may be in obtaining a job after graduating, but this can be accomplished with perseverance.

Truck Driving

There are a number of truck driving jobs available with companies that are willing to hire felons. It’s generally recommended to attend a school to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) first. This is required for most truck-driving jobs.


There are a number of opportunities for felons in the construction industry. Many smaller companies are willing to allow a felon to demonstrate his or her skills in a particular trade within the construction field.

There are a number of trades within the construction industry, including:


There are a number of restaurants, especially fast food restaurants, that hire felons. Some of these include:

  • McDonald’s
  • Subway
  • Taco Bell
  • Wendy’s

Temp Agencies

Temp agencies are another good choice for felons even with a drug conviction. Since they work with a variety of employers, it’s easier to find one that’s willing to give a felon an opportunity. Although the idea is that the work is temporary, this type of work can lead to permanent positions.


There are many opportunities for felons who want to start their own business. Being an independent contractor can offer those with a drug offense a chance to work for themselves and utilize their skills.

How to Deal with Drug Offenders on a Job Application

Many states allow felony convictions to be expunged from a record. If this is available, it would certainly be helpful to clean up your criminal record. The report from the court where the charges were filed can be helpful. Checking with the county, state, and federal courts is recommended.

When applying for a job, the question about criminal convictions needs to be answered truthfully. You may be automatically disqualified if there is a lie discovered by a potential employer. Questions about criminal history may only ask for information regarding felonies. If the question doesn’t ask for misdemeanor convictions, these don’t have to be disclosed.

Specific information regarding a criminal record should be clearly stated to a potential employer:

  • Briefly describe what happened with an acceptance of responsibility
  • Tell what a person did while incarcerated to better him or herself
  • Show what someone is doing now to move past the conviction
  • Demonstrate having learned from one’s mistake

Making a Case for Employment

When asked about a drug conviction, it’s important to answer the question directly and honestly. The employer knows that you’re aware of what’s on your record. Attempts to pretend that you don’t know makes you appear dishonest.

Making mistakes is part of life. Showing that you’re qualified and honest will give you the best chance to find employment.

It’s important that a felon accepts responsibility for his or her actions and focuses on the lessons that he or she has learned. It’s essential, to be honest during a background check, which includes providing an explanation of any criminal activity and avoiding putting the blame on anyone else.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get hired with a drug offense on your record? What was that like for him or her, and how did he or she achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “Jobs for Drug Offenders”

  1. A couple of more things.

    A lot of places are online job application or online resume only. Break the rules. Put on something nice and go to the place’s front desk or whatever. If no front desk, seek out the owner, a boss, a manager, whoever. Literally get your foot in the door. Sometimes you’ll be told to buzz off and go online like everyone else. But sometimes, that will work because your first impression is a well dressed smiling face looking enthusiastic instead of question 8 or whatever asking if you have ever been convicted of a felony. Then the follow up question of explain. It won’t always work, but try to set your stage. And then set it in your favor. That’s what successful people do to get a one up on everybody else. Socials. They do it as a life hack. However, you have to do it now.

    That’s for the job. If you go to school, seek out their guidance counselor or course counselor or whatever they call them these days and ask that person what your options are. Before money, financing, the details of everything else, figure out then and there what you’re even allowed to do. There are many paths in life. Go to the person who helps students figure out what their majors will be.

    Good luck.

    -19 year felon

  2. First of all, don’t tell a potential employer that you’re “working hard on my recovery and am committed to sobriety”. It sounds like drug group talk. It sounds like its an active issue you’re dealing with that may become a problem for the employer. Yes, it’s true that if you were an addict to something, it is something that usually has to be worked and guarded against for life, but keep it simpler. Just say that you made mistakes and you’re done with that.

    Also, try to mentally prepare yourself for this to sting you out of the blue in so many ways for the rest of your life. I received drug felonies in 2003. I am still dealing with the fallout in my 40’s. It sucks. Want to ever rent a house or apartment? Good luck. Want to get licensed for so many jobs that now require licensing in our heavy government hand land? Good luck. And you’ll find that many people, about half, vote for even more government, which always ratchets the wrench on us even tighter. Want to visit most of the world? Forget it. Most of the so called First World doesn’t want us at all, no Muslim country ever, and hit or miss with the Asian countries. Mostly, no. And South Americaa is out too. The countries with supposed safe passage are crooked ones looking for bribes. So, forget travel. Honestly, just prepare to disengage from a lot of life and try not to grow bitter. If you figure that out, come find me and share your secret.

  3. Can anyone tell me the name of the book Ron Stefanski published? I have drug possession charges that are not going to come off of my record. I am sober and in drug court and would like an opportunity to study and get a good job that I enjoy and can make a decent living off of. I am really working hard on my recovery and am committed to sobriety.


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