Best Jobs for People with a Criminal Record

Jan 19, 2020

There are several good career options available to individuals with a criminal record across various job fields, including technology and art. Find out about some of these jobs and get information on each position's median salary.

Best Career Options for People with a Criminal Record

Although it may depend on your personal interests and skill sets, if you have a criminal record some of the best career options might be independent jobs that do not require background checks and also offer high salaries. The jobs profiled below come from different fields and are almost all expected to have positive job growth as well as a median salary of more than $34,000 in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Compare and contrast some of the best career options for individuals with a criminal record below.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Writers and Authors $62,170 0%
Photographers $34,000 -6% (decline)
Graphic Designers $50,370 3%
Craft Artists $34,240 0%
Carpenters $46,590 8%
Web Developers $69,430 13%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Information on the Best Jobs for People with a Criminal Record

Writers and Authors

The BLS reported that writers and authors made a median salary of $62,170 in 2018. These professionals are usually self-employed and don't need to pass a background check to get work. Writers and authors write about any number of subjects, and individuals with a criminal record may even write about their experiences in books, blogs, articles and scripts for various kinds of productions. Writers and authors usually need to submit drafts of their work to an editor who proofreads and prepares a piece for publication. Most writers and authors need a college degree, and experience in the field is helpful.


Many photographers work for themselves or can work as freelancers, which would not require a background check. The BLS reported that these professionals made a median salary of $34,000 in 2018. Photographers typically use digital cameras, special lighting equipment and photo-enhancing software to create quality images of a wide array of subjects, including people, animals and scenery. Photographers need to maintain a professional portfolio and may sell their work in galleries and marketplaces, as well as directly to their clients. Some photographers, like photojournalists, need a bachelor's degree, but most photographers only need a technical understanding of the field.

Graphic Designers

Some graphic designers work independently as freelancers, which would not require them to undergo a background check in order to gain employment. According to the BLS, these professionals made a median salary of $50,370 in 2018. These designers have to figure out how to convey an idea by creating text and graphics that interest consumers. Their designs can be created by hand or using computer software. Graphic designers usually take direction on a project from an art director or a client and then create logos, illustrations and other imagery that typically needs to be approved by the client and checked for errors before printing. Most graphic designers need a bachelor's degree in the field and must maintain a professional portfolio of their work.

Craft Artists

The BLS reported that craft artists made a median salary of $34,240 in 2018, and like photographers and writers, these artists usually work for themselves and do not need to pass a background check to be employed. Craft artists create useful but artistic objects, such as pottery, quilts, furniture and glassware, that they sell online as well as at craft fairs and other marketplaces. They typically incorporate a wide range of artistic and visual techniques, including color, texture, space and perspective. Craft artists do not need a formal education but perfect their craft through practice.


A career as a carpenter may be a good fit for individuals convicted of lesser crimes who are interested in working with their hands. While some of these craftsmen work for construction firms and contractors, many are self-employed. They use wood and other materials to build frameworks for structures after carefully following blueprints and measuring and cutting materials to their exact specifications. They may oversee other construction laborers and are qualified to examine and replace damaged framework in structures as needed. Carpenters usually learn the trade through apprenticeships and on-the-job training. The BLS reported that carpenters made a median salary of $46,590 in 2018.

Web Developers

Some web developers may work independently as freelancers and will not have to pass a background check to find employment. The BLS reported a high median salary of $69,430 in 2018 for the profession. Web developers meet with their clients to understand the requirements for a project and then begin writing code. They also test applications and can apply graphics to a site. Depending on the project, they may need to work with other designers and team members, monitor traffic on the website and apply any necessary updates. Web developers must understand programming and graphic design, but education requirements vary with employer and position. A high school diploma may be all that's needed for some positions, though an associate's degree is a common requirement.

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