Felons face many challenges once they leave prison. One of the biggest challenges that felons are met with are getting a job. Having a felony on your criminal record can lower the chances of hire and even remove a number of jobs you are eligible for. So, will a felony show up on a background check if it happened a decade ago?
What Background Checks Show.
Nearly every major employer in the United States uses a background check to screen applicants for jobs, so what exactly is shown in a background check? Knowing what an employer will see when they run a background check on you is important because it can give you a better idea of how to improve your application based on what the employer may find.
Before we can begin to analyze a background check, it is critical to understand that there are different types of background checks that are used for different purposes, all of which search and prioritize different areas in someone’s past. This article will primarily talk about employment background checks since that is the most common type of background check, but we will also briefly discuss the other types as well.
An employment background check will reveal many different aspects of the applicant’s life; from their education history to their driving record, employers see a wide variety of information. Criminal records are involved in every background check, regardless of which type of background check is being performed.
Here is a brief list of what is revealed to employers when they run a background check.
- Education History + Verification of Education.
- Criminal History and any public record.
- Driving history and Licenses.
- Credit History + Credit Score.
These are just a few of the things an employer is able to see on a standard background check. Employers may request more information from an applicant to help them reach a hiring decision.
How Background Checks Work and How Felons can Prepare for Them.
A background check can be thought of as a central hub of all of the applicant’s life. Credit reports from Experian, criminal records from the Department of Corrections, it is all found in a background check if it is within a certain time period.
Background checks work in time intervals, some employers only take into account the last five years of an applicant’s history, some only look at the last seven years, and a few will ask for the last decade. Because an employer can choose how far back they go for a background check, that means that a felony may not show up on a background check if the felony was committed outside of the time frame the employer is looking at.
For example, if the felony was committed in 2006 and the felon applies for a job at a company that only looks at the last five years of the applicant’s history, the felony will not show up since it did not happen in the past five years. This may come as a relief to many felons. The idea of their felony not being known to their employer sounds too good to be true, and that’s because it is. In most cases, employers will ask on the application form “Have you ever been convicted for a felony?” or something along those lines. The employer will know if an applicant is a felon on way or another.
The background check and the job application work hand and hand in determining if the applicant should be hired. Past references are often consulted, and previous work history is brought into consideration. Filing out a job application should be done with great focus and care, especially if you have a felony on your criminal record. Employers are automatically hesitant to hire someone if they have a criminal record, so make sure that you job application really shines.
Many felons who want to increase their chances of getting hired may obtain formal education at a community college or university, pursue trade certificates, or enter the workforce and build high-quality references. The ideal candidate will have done all of these things to help overshadow their felony conviction.
While many states are working hard to impose laws to make it illegal to not hire a felon based on their criminal history, businesses are allowed to not accept felons. Banks are notorious for not hiring felons, even if the felony committed had nothing to do with money.
Can a Felony Be Erased?
It is possible to have a felony expunged from your criminal record. The process of expunging a felony from your criminal record is quite long, but many felons find it worthwhile to go through the process.
Only select felonies can be expunged. If the felony committed was of violent nature such as committing murder or rape, then the felony is not allowed to be expunged and will remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life. Felonies such as theft, fraud, or tax evasion have the potential to be erased from your criminal record since they are not violent in their nature.
The process of erasing a felony varies state to state. Some states have different restrictions and regulations on which felonies can be expunged and how the expungement process is handled. There are companies set up in every state to help guide you through the process of getting a felony expunged or sealed.
Sealing a felony is similar to expunging a felony, the only difference is that when sealing the felony, the record is not “erased”, just “locked away from public eyes”.
Jobs and Industries for Felons.
Just because you technically hold status of a felon does not mean you are unable to find success in the job market. There are a number of jobs and industries that felons can excel in because someone’s criminal record is not heavily taken into account when applying for these jobs.
Felons have been known to find success in the auto industry, whether as a mechanic or a plant employee, the pay is above the national average for hourly workers and the job is in high demand. There are a number of trade schools and technical colleges that felons can go to in order to further their chances of getting hired and receive higher pay.
If the auto industry does not sound appealing, consider other trade programs such as H/VAC, electrician work, plumbing, or carpentry. All of these professions are in very high demand and have been known to start employees at over $40,000.00 a year. That number is higher than the average entry level salary for some college level jobs- showing that everyone can find success in the world, not just those with degrees and/or a clean criminal record.
One industry that has been overlooked by many felons is the oil and gas industry. There are many jobs that accept felons in this industry. Oil and gas jobs can provide unexpected benefits and perks as well, one of the which is the ability to travel. Oil and gas companies will pay a premium for employees that are willing to travel, specifically travel and work on oil rigs out in the ocean. It is also good to note that this industry is felon friendly. So long as the felony committed does not impose a direct threat to the work environment or their performance.
How much does it cost to expunge a felony?
The cost of expunging a felony varies based on the felony itself, the legal team and their rates, and where the felony was committed. The cost ranges from $1,000.00 – $2,500.00 for the service.
Do colleges admit students with felonies?
Contrary to the belief that colleges will turn away students with felonies, colleges do admit felons to their programs. Colleges, trade schools, and technical colleges do grant admission to felons. Many felons choose to utilize this and enroll in these different schools to obtain a degree or certificate. By having a degree or certificate, felons are much more successful in the workforce; their hourly rate can increase, and their job prospects can open up.
Can a felon become a nurse?
There is no clear-cut answer to this question, as every state has their own rules for who can become a certified nurse. The general answer is that felons are allowed to become nurses, so long as their crime was not of violent nature and there has been at least five years between the end of the felon’s sentence and their application to be a nurse.
Can a felon become a TSA agent?
The TSA does accept felon applicants so long as the felony was committed over ten years ago. If the felony was committed over a decade ago, then the felon is able to work for the TSA.
Thank You for reading! Do you think businesses should be able to discriminate against felons? Let us know your reasons below in the comments!