You may have had experience with IT in the past and are thinking about becoming a computer programmer. As a felon, can you?
Let’s look into this.
In this blog post, we’ll cover the following:
- What Is a Computer Programmer?
- Training to Become a Computer Programmer
- How Much Does a Computer Programmer Earn?
- Background Check?
- An Opportunity for Felons?
What Is a Computer Programmer?
A computer programmer writes computer software programs and applications, testing them to make sure they work properly.
A computer programmer must be knowledgeable about different computer languages.
A successful programmer can create and correct computer code that allows a computer to follow instructions in a step-by-step manner.
Computer programmers learn a variety of programming languages and must be able to go from a person’s instructions to a programming language that contains logical steps to carry out the original instructions.
As a computer programmer, you need to be analytical and detail oriented, able to spend a lot of time alone working on the computer. If that describes you, you might have a future as a computer programmer.
Training to Become a Computer Programmer
Many computer programmers have a bachelor’s or an associate’s degree in computer science.
However, it isn’t necessary to have a degree as long as you have taken the requisite classes to learn the basics of computer programming. You can get this type of education at a university, community college, or a vocational school.
A degree in computer science gives you the ability to learn programming languages easily. There is no certification required to become a programmer. However, a computer programmer can be certified in specific programming languages or certain computer products within a business.
This might not be such a different road to travel as you look to your future and a new career.
How Much Does a Computer Programmer Earn?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there are approximately 250,000 computer programmers as of 2019.
The median annual salary for a computer programmer was $86,550 in 2019. Experience, specialization, and geographic location could have a significant impact on these earnings.
Growth in this field has slowed as more individuals learn the necessary computer language skills without formal computer programming education. There is not as much need for the complexities of programming languages and skills.
Generally, a computer programmer on the East or West coast or in the South receives a higher salary than for one in other areas.
You will run into a background check in your quest to become a computer programmer. In fact, there will likely be more than one background check that would be run as part of the admission requirements for a college or vocational school.
The type of background check would vary according to the college, which could be a challenge for you with a felony conviction. It would depend on whether or not it was a college or a vocational school.
A background check at a vocational school would likely not be as strict as many trade schools make some effort to admit felons without such a stringent background check.
For universities, more than 60% of colleges currently consider criminal histories in decisions.
For many schools, their background check consists of a single question regarding convictions for a felony or misdemeanor. So maybe the college or vocational school route, either one, would get you access to a computer programming program.
Whether it is at a community college or a vocational school, a background check will usually focus on convictions that have happened within the past seven years.
But even a felony conviction may not eliminate you. Trade schools are known for accepting those who have previous involvement with the criminal justice system. So that’s not so bad.
Then, to get a computer programming job, you will have to go through the application process, which will require a background check by a potential employer. Of course, the type of felony will make a difference.
Those who have been convicted of a more serious offense such as a violent or sexual offense will be at a disadvantage in passing the background check for many types of jobs, including work as a computer programmer.
Crimes against persons won’t work in your favor. Drug offenses can sometimes interfere as some view those with drug-related convictions and issues as unreliable.
Other types of felonies may not limit your chances of successful employment. Some fields are known for giving felons an opportunity.
So why not the computer field?
An Opportunity for Felons?
Yes, becoming a computer programmer is a possibility for you as a felon. It’s the type of field that doesn’t require a license or certification.
There are many training opportunities available through universities, community colleges, and trade schools.
You might have an easier time getting a job such as a computer programmer that doesn’t involve direct contact with the public. There could be limited opportunities finding a programmer job that includes working around personal records and information along with financial data.
While the field is not experiencing the type of growth that you might like to see, there is still enough opportunity to make it an attractive option, if you have experience and interest in the computer field.
It is worth a look.
In order to be successful in your pursuit of becoming a computer programmer, it is essential to be honest about your background. Lying about your conviction could prevent you from becoming a computer programmer.
If a felony isn’t disclosed but found on doing a background check, this is fraud. It’s a punishable crime which would require an attorney and could result in being sent back to prison.
Having your felony expunged can give you the chance you need to begin with a clean record and succeed in becoming a computer programmer.
Also, running a background check on yourself would tell you what a school or a potential employer would view. We recommend doing that to help you be prepared.
If being a computer programmer is your goal, be persistent and don’t give up.
Your mistakes from the past don’t have to continue to derail you. Hold to your goal and be defined by how you recover from your mistakes.
It can be worth it to live an honest life.
What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a computer programmer with a felony? What was that like, and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.