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Jobs Affected by a Criminal Record

Before you job search, know which work restrictions and regulations can keep a person with a conviction from working in certain jobs.

Before you make a career plan or start to job search, you need to know if you are restricted from working in certain types of occupations. This is a small list of jobs compared to the many types of careers available to you.

There are some jobs not open to someone with a criminal conviction. The exact occupations and the type of restrictions depend on your offense and various state and federal regulations.

Before you start training or look for a job, find out what, if any, restrictions you might have for work.

Barred Occupations

Some occupations are off limits to people with felony convictions. Help make your job search smoother by knowing your options.

It is illegal for employers to refuse to hire you just because you have a criminal conviction. A Minnesota law called the Criminal Offenders Rehabilitation Act says that employers have to consider you as an individual.

However, you can be barred from working in a job that is related to your conviction. Understand which jobs you cannot be hired for before you make a career plan, start training, or search for a job.

A few examples:

  • If your offense was related to alcohol, it is legal for an employer to stop you from working in a liquor store, or as a server in a restaurant that sells alcohol.
  • If your offense was related to firearms, you can be barred from working in places that sell guns. You also can’t work in security and law enforcement occupations that require you to be near weapons.
  • If your offense was related to money, you can be barred from working in a bank or other financial institutions.

Some occupations that require a license — either for the employee or for the business — can be hard for people with a felony. Examples are:

  • Health care occupations, such as dental assistants
  • Businesses that help children, such as child care centers and schools
  • Occupations that serve the elderly or adults with special needs, such as those in nursing homes or home health care

Some organizations, like nursing homes, will help you to obtain a license so you can work there. This is why it is a good idea to make connections with employers. You want to be considered based on your skills and personality, not your criminal record.

Your Options
When you explore careers, you'll be surprised by how many possibilities there are.

The length of time that you are barred from a job or workplace might depend on the nature of your conviction or the occupation. There might be more off-limits occupations when you are first released than there are several years after release. Some jobs and workplaces have a 7, 10 or 15-year limit on restrictions. This means that your first job after release might be hard to find, and it might not be your "dream job." But these transition jobs are an important step ahead for your career and to connect with the community.

Work Restrictions

As you look for work, you should know which careers you cannot work in because of the type of offense, the location, or the schedule.

Before you apply for jobs, you should know if you are banned from working in certain types of jobs or work settings. Work restrictions vary depending on the offense or sentencing.

Work restrictions may be based on:

  • your current or past offenses
  • the location of the work site
  • the number of hours or the shift you are able to work
  • stability of the work assignment

Your Supervised Release Officer or Parole Officer will tell you if your offense affects where you can look for work.

Examples of Restrictions
Depending on the offense, a person with a felony conviction might face one or more work restrictions. Here are some examples:

  • Agents must be allowed to visit worksite and/or speak with a supervisor to discuss client's performance, progress, and accountability
  • Cannot work in a position that serves alcohol
  • Cannot work with minors
  • Cannot work with vulnerable adults
  • Employment must be within or close to a supervision district so that agents may visit the worksite
  • Not allowed to use or have contact with devices that can access the Internet
  • Require permission to leave worksite or visit multiple locations during the course of the work day

If your offense involved a vulnerable adult, for example, you will most likely not be able to work in any positions in a nursing home or group home. Also, you would likely not be allowed to work as a Personal Care Assistant (PCA) or in a related career.

If your offense involved a child, you will most likely not be able to work for a city park system, in or near a child care facility or school. In some cases, you would not be allowed to work in places that typically hire teenagers, such as fast food restaurants.

Regardless of your offense, most people with a criminal conviction on supervision are not allowed to work where their victim(s) are employed. A standard condition of release is that you are not able to have contact with any current or past victim(s).

Transportation Limits
You may not be able to work in some geographic areas, like near a school, based on the details of your offense.

Can you get to the job from a bus line? Does the bus run frequently enough to get you to work on time and home from work by your curfew?

In addition, some jobs require you to have a valid driver's license, clean driving record, and be eligible for coverage under the employer's insurance.

Keep in mind whether you are allowed to cross state lines for work such as delivery or truck driving. 

Understand the Rules

The rules about barred occupations and work restrictions are complicated. It is your responsibility to understand them before you apply for jobs. Talk to a job coach at Goodwill/Easter Seals, CareerForce or other employment service to help you know how the rules apply to you.

Next Steps:

Other Resources

  • The American Bar Association created the Collateral Consequences website to show how different types of criminal convictions affect employment and other resources. After you enter the website, select Minnesota on the map and search for consequences on "employment" and "Occupational & professional licensure & certification."
  • Read Minnesota Statutes related to having a criminal record in order to better understand what employers can and can’t consider when hiring.