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Can You Work At The Airport With A Felony?

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Having a prior felony conviction can be devastating and finding employment afterward is intimidating.

Many people with felonies wonder: Can you work at the airport with a felony?

The answer is yes, it’s possible!

Read on to learn in detail when having a felony can still result in airport employment.


Can Felons Work at the Airport?

Both the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and several airline companies hire felons who meet certain criteria.

Generally, the felony conviction must be older than seven to ten years.

In addition, a person must not be on any government watchlist or terrorist list.

Aside from these requirements, nuances may vary by job type and employer.

The TSA lists detailed conditions for employment on its website.

Criminal offenses that would disqualify someone from working with the TSA include offenses listed by the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).

These vary widely from human trafficking crimes to environmental crime or cybercrime.

Theft is an immediate disqualification.

A few airlines hire felons if the conviction was for a Class 2 felony.

Class 2 felonies can vary by state and crimes range from bigamy to manslaughter.

A Class B felony is the same as a Class 2 and follows the same definitions.

Best Airport Jobs for Felons

Top airline jobs for felons include work at TSA and private airlines.

If you’re looking to apply to either you will have to undergo an FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) criminal record check.  

Transportation Security Officer

A Transportation Security Officer (TSO) is someone who ensures the safety of travelers passing through airport security.

They check and monitor luggage with the help of screening equipment.

While TSO jobs involve checking exit and entry points at the airport, they do not involve carrying weapons.

Additionally, TSOs do not have the power to arrest anyone.

Customer Service Agent

Customer service agents are crucial to airlines.

People with this job help travelers book or manage their flights and help answer any questions regarding reservations.

With a job as a customer service agent, you can enter at entry-level and climb in the future.

This is a great option for ex-felons who meet the criteria.

Call Center Agent

A call center agent answers calls from customers at an airline and offers solutions to booking issues or travel requests.

If you have a clean record in the past ten years and have proven customer service skills, this may be the perfect opportunity to go back into the workforce.

This type of job is often remote as well.

Airport Custodian

Airport custodians are responsible for maintenance at the airport.

The job may include cleaning airport restaurants, windows, floors, and bathrooms.

Requirements for this job are minimal but do require enough physical fitness to use cleaning tools.

Mopping and scrubbing an airport can be strenuous work but the job also has a full benefits package.

Companies Hiring Felons

Three airlines give ex-felons a second chance.

These are Delta Airlines, American Airlines, and United Airlines.

You can apply to the companies for an entry-level position and also enjoy internships that can get you ready for other jobs.

Entry-level Jobs for Felons

Entry-level jobs for felons include customer service representatives, custodians and maintenance, call center agents, and TSOs.

The training for these jobs is shorter than a higher entry-level job.

Internships are available at Delta, American, and United airlines as well.

These include training opportunities for crew member jobs or cabin cleaning jobs.

Airlines may require additional testing for these positions.

Laws That Vary From State to State

Some states only check for felony records in the past 7 years. These are:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Montana
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Washington

In the above states, consumer credit reporting agencies must limit reporting indictment and arrest records to the past seven years.

The information they report also includes parole records.

Another benefit is that there is no salary cap for the jobs a felon can apply to.

That means that the seven-year rule stands even if the job pays a high salary.

While you may find employment in other states, the background check will be more extensive and cover up to ten years.

Does the Type of Felony Matter?

The type of felony you have in your past matters when finding a job.

To work within the airline industry or TSA, you cannot have a Class A felony.

If you have a prior theft conviction, it must be older than ten years.

Certain felonies will bar you from working at the airport.

These are:

  • Murder
  • Espionage
  • Conspiracy to commit espionage
  • Terrorism
  • Treason
  • Human Trafficking

In addition, if you pled guilty to any of the following, you are disqualified from working at an airport:

  • Arson
  • Kidnapping or taking hostages
  • Robbery
  • Rape or aggravated sexual assault
  • Immigration violations
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Smuggling
  • Bribery
  • Extortion

If during the last seven years, you have pleaded insanity or a court has found you to be non-guilty due to mental instability, you are also disqualified.

Misdemeanors vs. Felonies

While a felony conviction means prison time for more than a year, a misdemeanor can mean spending a year in county jail.

A misdemeanor is a non-indictable offense that is less serious than a felony.

A felony may include robbery, while a misdemeanor might include petty theft.

Both a misdemeanor and a felony can make it hard to find work, but luckily it is possible.

As long as the crimes are not severe (Class 2 or B), you can work at an airport.

SIDA Badges

A SIDA badge can give you access to airline ramps.

Some jobs may require a SIDA badge.

Screening is long, but it can be well worth it.

What Are SIDA Badges?

A SIDA (Security Identification Display Area) badge is a special access badge you receive by completing a background check.

The check includes an employment background, a security threat assessment, and a history criminal check using fingerprints.

All airport employees and TSA officers require a SIDA badge.

Why Do You Need a SIDA Badge to Work at the Airport?

A SIDA badge guarantees that airport employees do not present a potential threat to travelers’ safety.

You must be trustworthy working with people and luggage that move quickly through the airline.

To screen for safety, you must pass a safety screening yourself.

The badge also lets you work in areas where travelers are not permitted.

Thus, it’s crucial to know an employee does not have a history of robbery, trafficking, or terrorism.

Without the badge, you would need an escort to enter these high-security areas.

Who Is Ineligible for a SIDA Badge?

Crimes that will bar you from receiving a SIDA badge are:

  • Rape
  • Murder
  • Unlawful possession of weapons or explosives
  • Aircraft-related crimes
  • Terrorism crimes and trafficking crimes

Are Felons Eligible for SIDA Badges?

Felons may be eligible for a SIDA badge if the conviction was not for any of the following: armed robbery, rape, murder, extortion, sedition, or interfering with flight crews.

Appealing the Denial of a SIDA Badge

You may be denied a SIDA badge under grounds that you present a threat to airport security.

If you know the information is inaccurate, you can make an appeal.

However, these cases are rare.

Criminal Records Background Checks

Criminal background checks occur across different industries.

Anyone applying for a job at the airport must pass a records background check, regardless of the position.

Who Needs a Criminal Record Check?

A criminal record check only looks at someone’s criminal history.

Anyone applying for a job must have a criminal records check to uncover any previous felonies or misdemeanors.

That said, if your conviction is more than 7-10 years, you should pass.

What Do Airport Background Checks Include?

When you submit a job application to an airport, the process checks for employment history and verification, and any disqualifying crime convictions.

Sometimes the check also includes FBI criminal records.

This ten-year federal check is unique to airports.

Other details the check looks for are education history and military involvement.

You may be asked to provide three professional references.

Can I Repeat a Criminal Record Check?

Unless there is mistaken information that led to your denial of employment, you generally cannot repeat a criminal record check.

How to Get Hired at the TSA With a Felony

You can work for TSA with a prior felony conviction.

However, your felony must be Class 2.

You must also have five years passed since your incarceration or passed a background check for the past seven years.

Does the TSA Have Special Programs for Hiring Felons?

Currently, there are no special programs for felons applying to jobs at TSA.

Does the TSA Perform Drug Tests?

TSA performs drug tests for employees.

The agency uses a five-panel urine test to check for drugs.

Alcohol breath tests and hair follicle tests can also be part of routine tests for TSA employees.

Does the TSA Hire Felons in 2024?

Yes, the TSA is hiring felons in 2024.

Wrapping Up

Not all is lost if you have a felony in your past.

You can still find employment, and airports are no exception.

Check our resources for any airport job updates and to get started on your exciting airport job search.

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