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Can a Felon Become a Software Engineer?

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Felons know all too well how difficult life is once they get that conviction. While felons may think no one will hire them after their release, there are resources available.

Those felons with an interest in computers may think about becoming a software engineer. This blog post will address the issue of whether or not a felon can become a software engineer.

  • What is a Software Engineer?
  • What Education/Training Does a Software Engineer Need?
  • How Much Does a Software Engineer Earn?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Recommended Action


What is a Software Engineer?

A software engineer oversees the creation of software applications and systems for computers. He or she determines the need for a computer application and designs that software. An engineer makes certain that software is tested and corrected.

Software engineering is the application of engineering principles to computer software, including:

  • Design
  • Development
  • Implementation

A software engineer must be knowledgeable as a computer programmer and may have a degree in computer science or in software engineering. These programs focus on data structures and programming languages. A software engineer is involved with the cost, specifications, and reliability of the software they develop.

A software engineer can work in the following fields:

  • Creating video games
  • Developing internet applications
  • Running computer networks
  • Implementing computer security measures

A software engineer typically does the following activities:

  • Designs, tests, and develops software
  • Recommends software upgrades
  • Designs an application or computer operating system
  • Makes certain that the computer software offered continues to operate properly after development

There are several different types of computer engineers, including an application software developer and a system software developer.

A successful software engineer must have a number of various skills:

  • Analytical skills
  • Communication
  • Detail-oriented
  • Good problem-solving
  • Creativity

What Education/Training Does a Software Engineer Need?

There are no license requirements for a software engineer, although there are certifications for software engineers through the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society.

The two certifications available are software development associate and software development professional. To earn one of these, a candidate must pass an exam.

An associate degree is typically all that is required for an entry-level position as a software engineer. However, many employers prefer candidates with a four-year degree.

Classwork focuses on:

  • Mathematics
  • Computer science
  • Computer programming
  • Software architecture
  • Software testing

Some students complete an internship in addition to a degree program. An internship might last between 8 to 12 weeks.

How Much Does a Software Engineer Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there are approximately 1,256,000 software engineers as of 2016. The median annual income for a software engineer was $100,790 in 2017. The median wage is that income at which half software engineers earned more than that amount and half earned less.

Experience, specialization, and geographic location could have a significant impact on these earnings. Those software engineers working in California, Texas, Georgia, and New York have the highest salaries. Generally, a software engineer on the East or West coast or in the South receives a higher salary than one in other areas.

Employment of software engineers is expected to grow by 24% between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than the average. The primary reason for the growth is an increase in the demand for new computer software for computers, smart phones, and tablets.

An Opportunity for Felons?

Becoming a software engineer is a possibility for felons.

Computer technology and programming continue to be growing fields and don’t require a license or certification. There are many training opportunities available through universities, community colleges, and trade schools.

Felons also tend to have an easier time getting a job that doesn’t involve direct contact with the public. However, they may still experience limited opportunities finding a software job that includes working with personal records and information along with financial data.

Any felony conviction appearing on a background check could disqualify an individual from being a software engineer.

To be successful in their pursuit of becoming a software engineer, it’s essential for felons to be honest about their background. Lying about their conviction will prevent them from becoming a software engineer. Felons deserve the chance to show they can be good employees.

If a felony isn’t disclosed but is found on a background check, this constitutes fraud and is a punishable crime which would require an attorney and could result in being sent back to prison.

Having their record expunged can give them the chance they need to begin with a clean record and succeed in becoming a software engineer. Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that they have not been convicted of a crime.

Recommended Action

It may be a difficult road for felons to travel, but how do they do that? The same way they did their time in prison: one day at a time.

They have to give themselves the best chance. Having their record expunged could make a critical difference.

Then, it would be beneficial to document any education or training they have completed since their release. Taking time to develop a strong resume will boost their chances.

Having support from family and friends is essential. We aren’t defined by the mistakes we make but by how we recover from them. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. He or she can begin again and establish an honest life no matter how tough it may seem.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a software engineer with a felony? 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 “Can a Felon Become a Software Engineer?”

  1. I am a recent graduate with a degree in computer science with several misdemeanor convictions. i have just begun my job search, and im nervous that my criminal background will make me not hirable. I will come back to this post when i either: A. become a software engineer or B. give up and find a new path. Just letting you guys know now, im a little pessimistic about my opportunities despite my education and knowledge of computer programming

    • I am a systems architect, I design software, but also networks and I build infrastructure.
      I have a lot of felonies, I am not smart, I am just good with computers.
      I taught myself how to program at home and how to do everything else on the job.
      I would build whole systems on paper and now for real to demonstrate to potential employers what I can do before they ever look at my resume, much less my background.
      I am very good at what I do and that has been all that mattered, and I make way more than most. Don’t make bad choices, but if you already have, you can focus on making the right choices from then on and possibly bypass societies strictures if you’re skilled enough.
      Work hard, skip play, play is your work, work harder.
      Good luck.

      • hey i would like your advice on this said topic i just got out of prison and in about 5 more weeks when i start working I will be attending a tech school so that i can study to be a software engineer myself i have always been interested in the trade but messing around too much but I am still young and will be giving it my best this time around doing the right thing and staying out of trouble


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