Jobs for Violent Offenders

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A criminal conviction can completely change a person’s life. It has negative consequences that last for years. Perhaps the most significant challenge comes in finding a job after a violent conviction. Felons wonder if anyone will hire them.

This blog post will address the issue of what jobs are available for violent offenders.

  • Violent vs Nonviolent Offenses
  • Effects of a Violent Conviction on a Career
  • Careers that May be Challenging to Enter
  • Careers that May be Easier to Enter
  • How to Deal with a Violent Offense On a Job Application
  • Making a Case For Employment

Violent vs Non-violent Offenses

A felony is a serious criminal offense involving a sentence of at least one year in prison. There are two categories of felonies: violent and non-violent. The consequences for either type of conviction are similar, including:

  • Prison time
  • Probation or parole
  • Fines or restitution
  • Job loss
  • Loss of civil rights like voting or owning a gun
  • Damage to someone’s reputation

A non-violent felony doesn’t involve the use or threat of force, or inflicting injury on a victim. Any damage caused by a non-violent felony is non-physical, such as financial or property damage. Many non-violent felonies are called victimless crimes.

Common non-violent felonies include:

  • White collar crimes
  • Property crimes
  • Drug or alcohol crimes
  • Burglary
  • Fraud
  • Cyber crimes
  • Drug possession and distribution
  • Theft
  • DUI
  • Forgery

A violent felony is defined as a crime that has “an element of the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against another person, or is burglary, arson, or extortion, involving the use of explosives or otherwise involving conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another person.” Violent felonies are prosecuted more vigorously and typically carry more severe penalties than a nonviolent crime.

Violent felonies are often referred to as crimes against a person because they involve direct and substantial physical harm to a victim. Finding a lawyer will be crucial in any of these circumstances.

Common violent felonies include:

  • First or second degree murder
  • Attempted murder
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Involuntary manslaughter
  • Rape
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Domestic violence
  • Kidnapping
  • Threats
  • Robbery using force such as a weapon

Even after the terms of the sentence have been completed, 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 available for public viewing for three years before it can be expunged. A violent 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 Violent Conviction on a Career

A violent conviction will not absolutely prevent a felon from finding a job, but it certainly makes it much more difficult. Employers are already reluctant to hire anyone with a criminal record, that’s especially true if it’s a violent offense.

One of the difficulties of being hired for a position with any type of conviction is that an employer tends to see all crimes as being of equal severity. With any offense, many employers have the view that a felon is dangerous regardless of the type of crime.

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

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 that job.

Violent offenses can severely damage someone’s career as many professions require certification, licensing, or registration with a governing board. However, a violent offense may lead to suspending or revoking someone’s ability to practice their profession in a given state.

The Department of Health in each state may limit licensing of:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Physician’s assistants
  • Dentists
  • Dental assistants
  • Teachers

Careers that May be Challenging to Enter

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 whether it’s a violent crime or not.

A violent criminal history can prevent federal employment in certain jobs. For example, the Office of Personnel Management regulations prohibit those with even a domestic violence misdemeaner conviction from working in a position that involves firearms or ammunition.

Careers that May be Easier to Enter

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

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


There are many college degrees that help felons get an education and find employment even with a violent crime on their record. These include areas such as criminal justice, engineering, and social work.

A felon with a violent conviction can pursue any degree he or she wants. Although 60% of colleges consider criminal history in their admissions process, there’s no standard policy regarding a background check.

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 with a violent conviction. It’s generally recommended to attend a program first to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) which is required for most truck driving jobs.


There are many opportunities in the construction industry. Many smaller companies are willing to allow a violent offender 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:


Some fast food restaurants will hire violent offenders. These include:

  • McDonald’s
  • Subway

Most felons can expect to find work in the kitchen in these restaurants where they won’t be in direct contact with the public.

Temp agencies

Temp agencies are another good choice for felons with a violent offense. Since they work with a variety of employers, there are more opportunities to find one willing to hire a felon.


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

Those positions that directly employ individuals for a W-2 job often conduct a background check while those that contract with someone for an independent 1099 position typically do not complete a background check.

Online Jobs

Felons may have the best chance at finding work online since they don’t need to have any contact with customers, clients, or other employees this way. Plus, there are a surprising variety of online positions available.

How to Deal with a Violent Offense 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 a criminal record. The report from court where the charges were filed may also help. Checking with county, state, and federal courts is recommended.

When applying for a job, a question of a violent criminal conviction needs to be answered truthfully. Someone may be automatically disqualified if there is a lie that is discovered by a potential employer.

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

  • Briefly describe what happened with an acceptance of responsibility
  • Explain 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

A violent conviction should be explained briefly and accurately. A felon needs to take ownership of the mistake and state what that experience taught, and how he or she has changed since then.

When asked about a violent conviction, it’s important to answer the question directly and honestly. Making mistakes is part of life. Showing that he or she is qualified and honest will give the best chance to find employment.

Rather than focusing on the crime itself, a felon should shine light on the things he or she is doing now to move beyond his or her mistakes to live an honest life. Things like anger management classes, drug rehabilitation, or additional education can all show a felon is ready to enter the workforce.

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 violent offense on his or her record? What was that like for him or her, and how did he or she achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.

About the author

After earning his MBA from Benedictine University, Ron was looking for a new challenge and stumbled on the idea of helping the formerly incarcerated.

Using what he learned, Ron developed this website as a free resource and has worked with his team​ to continue answering questions for those in need.

18 thoughts on “Jobs for Violent Offenders”

  1. I liked your blog. I have a friend coming home from prison on parole after serving 5 years. Trying to get the best options for them. This was very informative.

  2. I was convicted of a violent offense. I pushed my nephew after several attempts to stop him from yelling in my face. I plead guilty, not a felony but a misdemeanor 3rd degree assault. This was December 1, 2017. It is now 3/31/2019 still unable to get a job. I am 48 have a great work history and never been in trouble before. My family is suffering and I feel like a burden. I am in emotional pain and I am very stressed. I have no idea what to do. Too much pressure!! I have applied at a lot of these places listed here and still nothing.

    • If you are going to be treated as a violent felon by local russians, you need to become very violent indeed. Your punishments needs to fit your crimes. I know this one man who not only was falsely reported as a pedophile, but then treated as one for decades. After years being defamed and abused, he finally raped his first child a few months ago. We become who society tells us we are. Did a handicap diaper destroy your life for a punch or a push… you should lay that little fagot up into ER.

  3. I was convicted of aggravated arson on June 1sr 2018 and I served 3 months in prison. I am currently out on ISP and I do work but am finding it hard to find a better job. It is very discouraging. I have applied at alot of jobs to be turned away. I have even been on prison websites. I know there is something out there more for me. I know I am a good person. That got caught up in someone’s else’s mess. I know I did wrong I am just trying to move on with my life .

  4. I got sick of a bully and stabbed him in the chest. I served 6 months for giving an asshole what he deserved. 8 years later i mow yards for a living

  5. Caught a murder at 18 Served 24 years Been out since November 2016 Have attempted EVERYTHING to gain employment About to just give up and give in The System is rigged and it’s a joke And people wonder why recidivism is so high If people can’t legally make it They’ll take it…..Nothing’s free……

  6. Long story short my boyfriend/baby daddy has a habit of bringing his friends over and they drink . I don’t mind as long as they are outside, but it Irritates me when they smoke . And he knows . Our daughter has asthma and cigarettes trigger it really bad . One day I came home from my parents with the kids and I let him know . He was already drunk and I asked him hey tell your friends to stop smoking . He said he will . It still smelled . I asked him again he said I am chill . I let 30mins pass and they were still smoking so I was already mad I yelled out at him and his friends to stop smoking or get the fuck out and he got mad cus I embarrassed him . Remember he was already drunk . So he came in mad and was yelling at me and I was scared he was going to kick me out . So I told him to get out or I’ll call the cops and he charged at me and I held my hands out and apparently scratched him . I was mad and called the cops . I went in to breastfeed my son who was 4 months at the time . The cops come I explain what happen he starts bitching about she hit me bla bla bla I told them I didn’t and he said I scratched him. They took me in . And the officers just bitched to me about . What are you doing with him . He’s a joke . Look at him bitching over a few scratches . When you get out we suggest getting custody of the kids and leaving . I didn’t say anything . I get booked and apparently they said I had a weapon.. I was in the holding cell for about 11hrs until he bailed me out . I get home called the bail bonds wait for my court date . Went nothing happens I was told it was dismissed . It’s been a year now and I can’t get a job . How am I suppose to leave this asshole when I have no Job and no money …. I applied EVERYWHERE . And I can’t stand it here with him anymore I need a job ASAP can I fight this with a lawyer or what can I do ?!

  7. It honestly is sooooo hard to find work when you have any type of violent crime on your background check. It’s not impossible, and wish people would stop making it sound like it is. It’s going to be hard people, get over it, and get out there and find something you can do.

    Here is some advice…… try applying at medium to small companies. They tend to be the ones who will be doing the interviewing and have the say so on whether they want to take a chance on someone or not. With bigger companies, the problem you will run into is that they usually have standard operating procedures set in place that will not allow for someone with a violent offense on their background check to be hired by those companies.

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  9. I have been out 2 months now. I’ve been to about 5 interviews. Everything from c and s wholesale grocers to chipotle. Even went through a staffing agency and got offered a job at olive garden only to have my robbery 2 conviction hold me back. I know I will find work eventually but I only have a few months in a halfway house to put a life together. I get discouraged at the fact that even if I present my self as well as can be that I will simply be judged by my past. I’m an addict. I made some stupid choices but if you are impressed by how I present myself and my personality just put my past aside and take a shot. Why do we have all these programs targeted on helping ex-cons get back on their feet if employers won’t give us a chance. Anyway im out here fighting and the system isn’t going to win. I will succeed because I have to. There is no other option.

  10. I can’t seem to find a job with 2 violent misdemeanor charges on my record. It’s been almost 3 years. I’m looking to expunge the charges, however, they are not felonies.
    I have had Sooooooo many job interviews and I get offered many jobs, but Everytime my background comes back I get informed that I’m not going to be hired.
    I have provided proof that I should have never been charged in the first place for the worse offence of Assault 2. It was amended down to assault 4 and a plea was entered for me. I wanted to take it to trial. I didn’t deserve to be in jail. I defended myself from being hurt or killed.
    However, my ex wouldn’t admit that he was hitting me to the police, only the doctors. It’s in my citation from the day I was arrested.
    I’m sorry, I know this is long but it is just so frustrating.
    I can’t find a job to save my life and no one will hire me!
    And it’s not even a felony!!!!!

  11. I was arrested April 4th, 2018, charged with criminal threat (felony 9) after an altercation with another driver during a traffic incident. The “victim” in this case changed lanes illegally and collided with my car. We both rolled down our windows and in a moment testosterone fueled insanity had a shouting match. He threatened me asking if I wanted to get my ass kicked and taunted me saying “do you see this, do you see this?” Not knowing what this was, I held up a sheathed knife to dissuade him from the course he seemed intent upon. What I didn’t know was “this” turned out to be a dash cam. Neither of us pulled over, but arriving home, the local police were waiting. I was arrested for Aggravated Assault (felony 5) based on the word of the victim. This was lowered to criminal threat after police watched his video. In a small victory, the “victim” did get a traffic ticket for the lane change. It felt good to testify at his trial.

    At the time I was working for a major pharmaceutical company and was fired based solely on the police report and accusation of one man. I’m fairly confident I’ll eventually be acquitted. Still, this was almost 2 years ago and should, hopefully, resolve within the next few months. Meantime, I make furniture to help make ends meet (that and rob my IRA). I’ve been offered 6 jobs similar to the one I had previously. All those offers rescinded based on background checks that reveal the arrest. Guilty until proven innocent! Don’t get arrested in Johnson County Kansas. Police and prosecutors here are insanely zealous.

    My problems don’t rise to what many of my fellows have posted herein. Sorry for whining. On the other hand, this has been cathartic. So, thank you.

  12. I feel someone somewere needs to get in the system and stop all these back ground checks going to prison should not be a life sentence you should do your time come home and be able to do anything in life you want to do!!!!

  13. I was convicted with involuntary manslaughter. I did 10 months and by the time I went to court it was time served. It all happened march2018 . Means my boyfriend had hung out with family and friends . He got overly drunk and started to act out. He hit me a few times. Punched in a closet door and a tv. He left the home came bak shortly. I told him to leave and not come bak but he did. He kicked in the back door of our home and through my cell out . I felt fearful and helpless kept a knife with me. When he kicked in the door I stabbed him. Court said he could have bled out due to the high content of alcohol. I’ve been home almost 3 years. I have held 2 jobs one as a custodian and another at subway. I took a class called step up they have a lot of pull because they know many employers and can help u get a job because the employers trust their opinion, this class lasted a week. While I. The class I met a employer who was willing to work with me and give me the custodian Job and work with my background. A few weeks later subway called me for
    A interview. I told him my story and was very honest. He gave me the Job also. Even though it was two part time jobs I had two. If it was possible for me it’s possible for all of you with records that airing even as bad as mine. I had never had a prior record nor even a traffic ticket this helped a lot too I’m sure. Keep the faith it’s jobs that’ll work with u jus be honest. The step up class helps with mock interviews, resume writing, and a lot of support which we all need someone sometimes. Think networking makes the dream work .

  14. That’s great all those Subway and other jobs you say a violent felon can get. I laugh! OK so I get it at first you need to prove yourself, but what about after 7-20 years later??? I in 2000 got on a assault 1 plead down to assault 2 violent felony served my 7 out of a 9 month sentence, got out and had this asshole for a probation officer who sat there smug like the whole time on the phone while I wait for him. I had him threaten to put a bad mark on me (can’t think of the word atm) for not being able to pee in a cup with him there for I’d went just before leaving him, but did eventually so he didn’t. But he kept threatening me if I wasn’t able to get a job within the month I had after I got out. WTF?
    No job none McDonald’s to delivering flowers to even pumping gas even the Fricking subway you say didn’t. Only way I didn’t get put back in jail was to beg the lady and the community college to give me some funding so I could take some Business classes. He was kind of pissed I think. later on about 3-4 months into my probation they changed who my probation officer was she was just as bad it seemed. Thank God for parents who paid my fines or I’d have never gotten out of their grip.
    I can’t remember for sure but do think they again just before the end of my probation period changed who I was to report to every month.
    I think if they could have poured cannabis into my pee they would have, assholes. All PO or probation officers at least the ones I have dealt with are all judgemental smug assholes who love nothing but to screw you if they can so yeah most of this were a country of second chances is BS. The right wants people to work, but if you get into trouble once they mark you and say your a thug or scum. Never mind it’s been for me over 20 years now! The left is no better they promise reform but it never seems to come. But if it wasn’t for a lady who I begged because I was just days away from getting put back into jail for 90- 120 days or what have ya, and my mom and dad who helped pay my fines I would have never gotten out of the system.
    Plus I had to lie on an application to even get a good office job once it’d been almost two years out and took college credits, but didn’t complete. I worked there for five years, but when they changed accounts to a Govt account and had to sign off on background checks got fired. I went on to try again at some office job that was similar to what I was doing and this time tried to not lie so if I got hired they couldn’t use that against me. Was going to get hired but I do feel someone from my old job and I did hear later did go there after he quit being the big manager where I did work at so feel he had something to do with it; but was told to show up for orientation so was getting ready the day of just to get a call and be told no!!! I was like WTF I told you all you needed to know about the past which at this point was 7 years, and yet still was told to get lost. I then a week or so later tried contacting the lady??? or person in charge hiring or why and what I could do to correct it and was told to apply again so did. I went to several of their testings and passed them all I told her in a email all the reasons why I was arrested and all the details of it all. I told her I paid all my fines and had or think I have proven I can work so that was when she told me to reapply so that’s what I did. So as I said did all that went through all their testing and got called and said I was hired and to show up for orientation… OK day of getting ready and low and behold get a call again telling me to forget it. You’d think being hit in the gut once was enough but no they had to do this twice. I emailed her immediately and asked her why this time and I re-iterated that she told me that her higher up had told her it was OK so why now?
    I guess the higher up changed his or her mind??? That’s why I think the guy who fired me at my old job went there and was in charge there or something for I was told later he did so…???
    Anyhow again jobless still and still applying to any job Gas pump operator to flipping burgers to other kinds of office jobs married and still nothing. Only one or two spot jobs that only lasted one day which I was grateful for but nothing good. Only stupid and back breaking job that would hire me was in a cannery of which broke my back. So for two years went between working in the plant to driving combine, but all the time my back and everything getting worse. I have even half heatedly since this tried again at even different back breaking jobs but they did background checks so no!!! I finally tried for disability since my ears are so bad now and got that… But 20 years of trying and have not been able to. I’m 54 now and have stage four kidney cancer I hurt so bad even if I wanted to try now to work for subway My guess is once they run a back ground check even though it’s been over 20 years they wouldn’t. I have tried the freelance way and did make $4.95 lol. is a joke it’s rigged so all the ones in the Middle East or Australia get the bids. So no, now even MCdee’s subway or other I couldn’t do I can’t stand for more than a few minutes without pain making me sit or walk very far so yeah BS. The guy who was my first PO, I went to school with his brother, and he was in my year book and I remember him, he was nothing but a cowardly little turd. If you can then mostly all that is available is back breaking work, and yeah a job is a job, but once you’ve proven yourself say 7-10… 20 fricking years then hire someone in a decent office job or something easy for crying out loud.!!!

  15. This is Bull Shit even McDonald’s did not Hire me I been out of Prison for 8 months now I get Interviews and Hiring Packets and I tell them about my Felonies right away and they say its no problem they will hire me just have to do the background but guess what after the Background They revoke my Job opportunity. This is So Fucked Up I just want to work and I am literally 1 step away from being Homeless.


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