ex-felon, security guard

Can I Be a Security Guard as an Ex-Felon?

Can I be a security guard as an ex-felon? You have been falling asleep asking yourself this question! Does a felony on your record affect your security opportunities? We understand your concern. This is why we’ve decided to produce a complete guide for those in this position. Today, you’re going to learn everything you need to know. This is what you’ll find in our excellent guide answering the question, can I be a security guard as an ex-felon?  Here is a short table of contents:

  • Basics of felonies
  • Red flag felonies
  • Can you get a security guard license
  • How Certificates of Rehabilitation and pardons work
  • Prisoner Re-entry
  • Useful programs
  • What you should and shouldn’t do while searching for a job

By the end, we hope to have answered all of your questions. Most importantly, you can take the first steps towards your security career.

The Simple Answer to Can I Be a Security Guard as an Ex-felon

In this guide, we’re going to dig into all sorts of detail. We will give you information on programs. Also, we will tell you what you can and can’t do. First, however, let’s provide a simple answer to the question because you’re probably dying to know. Yes, there is a very good chance that you’ll be able to become a security guard as an ex-felon.

  • Some states don’t require a license.
  • But you will have to deal with employer checks.
  • In others, the need for a license will require some form of a rehabilitation certificate.

Previously, we’ve met some ex-felons who turned their lives around.  They were able to find their way in life. After receiving their pardon or rehab certificate, they climbed the ladder and got jobs in the industry.

That being said, we should note that some states have what’s called “red flag felonies.” For example, look at Oregon.  You’ll be barred from security work if you were convicted for the following:

  • Buying custody of a child
  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Robbery
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Arson
  • Stalking

Elsewhere, there are several misdemeanor convictions that can halt your progress. Before getting started, we recommend researching the rules in your state. Check them carefully to see whether they have red-flag felonies. As we’re going to see later, California allows ex-felons to apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation to clear their criminal record.

Employer Checks and Standards

With the states that don’t have security licenses, like Kentucky, the pressure will be on employers. The employers need to register all employees. They will run background checks and review each candidate’s history in detail. Unfortunately, if you aren’t able to erase your history, this could mean a rejection from the company. However, if you can get a Certificate of Rehabilitation, your previous felonies cannot be considered or held against you.

With this information, we can now look a little deeper into the subject (we hope this simple answer helped!).

Information Regarding Felons

For those who are unaware, a “felony” is another word used to describe certain crimes. After being convicted of said crimes, individuals are stripped of certain rights. For example, they will be stripped of their right to vote.  This is called “felony disenfranchisement”.  Although still considered one of the stricter countries in this regard, voting rights for ex-felons have changed over the years.

Can ex-felons vote in California? What about in Texas? With one search on Google, you would find thousands of people asking these questions and the title question of our article, can I be a security guard as an ex-felon? For this guide, it’s important information because it gives us a base to build on for a security guard career. In the US, each state is different.  They all fall into one of six categories. Ex-felons can vote for the following reasons:

  • Regardless
  • Once being released
  • As soon as parole takes place
  • After probation
  • Depending on the circumstances
  • Depending on individual petitions

At one end of the scale, those imprisoned in Vermont and Maine can still vote as they would normally. At the other end, there are four states that require individuals to file a petition. Those states are Wyoming, Iowa, Virginia, and Kentucky. To answer our earlier questions, California allows voting after parole and Texas after probation.  But now, let’s get back to answering the question, can I become a security guard as an ex-felon?

Will a Felony Always Be on My Record?

Non-convictions will remain on your record for seven years.  Convictions will show on background checks indefinitely. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), employers can look back as far as they want. With this in mind, it becomes important to clear your record and show that the conviction was in the past.

Getting a Security Card License – Certificate of Rehabilitation

If you want to become a security guard regardless of your felony, check with your state for a rehabilitation certificate. We’ve spoken about this already.  But it’s about time we explained how it works.

Basically, this court document will officially tell the world that you obey the laws and have a good moral character. Regardless of what happened in the past, the certificate is proof that you’re no longer a threat to society. When applying for a security role, this is important and will be the difference between employment and unemployment.

Currently, there are eight states that offer such certificates. Those states are California, Virginia, Nevada, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Florida, and Arizona. When people ask for security guard companies that hire ex-felons, what they actually need is this list. As long as you’re in one of these states, you should get the certificate. Once you have the certificate, your original rights are restored as a citizen.

Can I Be a Security Guard as an Ex-felon in California?

As an example, let’s look at California. You can choose from two solutions. One is the  Certificate of Rehabilitation.  The second solution is to get a Direct Pardon. If you don’t qualify for the Certificate of Rehabilitation, try to get a Direct Pardon.  A Direct Pardon returns some of your rights as a citizen. Once you send an Application for Executive Clemency and Notice of Intent, the District Attorney will recognize this receipt. From here, you can send a completed application to the Governor’s Office.

Bottom Line: When starting a career in security, the first route you should investigate is this one. With this almost magical certificate, it will open doors for you in your home state. Whether going for a first job or a career after leaving the military, this will be the first solution.

Without it, you can be rejected for a security license. Unfortunately,  this is something we’ve seen time and time again. When hiring, a security company needs to register employees with the Public Safety Commissioner. As long as they first consider numerous factors, they have the right to reject you because of a felony. By law, they cannot accept or approve of somebody with a felony. Once you’ve been rejected by a company or for a license, this puts a black mark next to your name. Suddenly, the career you desire will be almost impossible to achieve.

With a Rehabilitation Certificate, you can obtain your license. With your license, you can get a job.  Employers can register you with the Public Safety Commissioner. From here, you can earn an honest living and climb the security ladder.

Prisoner Re-Entry Programs to Help Ex-felons Become Security Guards

Historically, those who have committed one crime are likely to re-offend at some point in the future. In an attempt to prevent this, most states now have some form of Prisoner Re-entry Program. If you’re an ex-felon, we highly recommend paying attention to these programs. Among other things, they’re designed to fight the common feeling of being left out after leaving prison. These programs can get you back into a community and realize the value of having a normal life.

Since we’ve been repeating California so much as a location, let’s start there. Though we can’t cover all 50 states here, you can still get an idea of how the programs work. If your crime was some time ago, don’t worry. We have some programs and advice for this towards the end of this article.

California Re-Entry Program

In California, prisoners are lucky to have several programs from which they can draw inspiration and help. For example, the California Re-entry Institute Program supports men through their transition from prison to freedom. To qualify for the program, you must have taken at least two years of weekly in-prison classes.

Elsewhere, the California Re-entry Program will assist you with social skills. The program offers help with your parole plans.  Also, the program is about promoting public support. In fact, they also work on a model re-entry program that can be used elsewhere.

Michigan Re-Entry Program

Meanwhile, Michigan has what’s called the Michigan Prisoner Re-entry Initiative (MPRI). It is supported by the MDOC (Michigan Department of Corrections).  They see the process of reintegrating back into society as a careful one. Prisoners are supported by taking courses while in prison.  These courses prepare them before release. At all times, prisoners have the necessary support and tools to succeed once on parole and beyond.

Texas Re-Entry Program

As our final example, the Re-entry and Integration Division in Texas plays a similar role. Once again, the aim of the program is to make sure prisoners do not come back. Resources are provided to prevent this problem. Fairly new to the state, the Reentry and Integration Division recently introduced a website full of information. Not only does this information help ex-offenders, but there’s also information for families and the public too.

So keep in mind that in each state, there are several programs ready and willing to help.  For example, Texas also has:

  • Texas Offenders Re-Entry Initiative (TORI)
  • Bridges to Life
  • One Man’s Treasure Clothes Closet
  • Dallas DOORS
  • Tarrant County Reentry Coalition
  • Texas County Resources Database

In truth, the list could go on. Whether you’re an ex-felon yourself or are reading this for a loved one, research your area. Talk to others, look online, and see what help is available near you.

Programs That Answer Can I Be A Security Guard as an Ex-felon?

With prisoner re-entry programs, there is some attention to jobs and starting a career. However, we want to provide the most help possible. We’ve got a whole section dedicated to jobs. Moreover, there are some fantastic programs that assist with GEDs too. Below, we’ve compiled a list of useful programs you should consider.

Cooperative of Felon Friendly Employers (COFFE)

Otherwise known as COFFE, the organization was first launched in 2010. Every day, it works hard to not only help felons leave prison but to build new lives thereafter. When it was first announced at the Defendant/Offender Workforce Development Conference, the industry was excited. For those looking to get into security, it’s a wonderful resource.

In 2019, there are employers across the country willing to hire ex-felons as part of the program. If you look online, you’ll find plenty of success stories. We believe you could become the next to launch a successful career regardless of what happened in the past.

Federal Programs

When it comes to assisting ex-felons, there are two federal programs that might interest you:

  • Federal Bonding Program (FBP) – Sponsored by the US Department of Labor, this program provides bonds when bonds aren’t normally available. For at-risk populations, the six-month bonds can really make a difference. These days, lots of industries require employees to be bonded. With a bond under the FBP, employers can hire ex-felons with less of a risk.
  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) – Secondly, this program offers a tax credit to employers who take a risk on those struggling for work. There are lots of categories, but, most importantly, ex-felons are included. If employers give an ex-felon a chance, they can receive a tax credit of up to $2,400.00.

Goodwill Industries Helping Ex-felons Become Security Guards

As our third suggestion, the disabled and various other marginalized communities have had the support of the Goodwill Industries International for many years. For those who have been in prison, the same is true. If you visit their website, you’ll learn more about how they support men, women, and younger people who want to start a career. Fortunately, they help with basic skill development for ESL, GED, and other educational classes.

Alongside education, they provide occupational skills training.  Also, they provide simple employment readiness training. After all of their support, you should be ready for your role in security.

State/Local Programs

Finally, as we saw with Texas earlier, the list only grows once you refine your search to local and state programs. In fact, many municipalities and counties assist ex-felons with the training and support they need. In recent times, in California, Jails to Jobs has been receiving much attention. They offer advice and help.  In addition, they list organizations that take on ex-felons after release.

Hopefully, you’re starting to see that help is always there if you need it. By reading this guide, you’ve taken a great first step. However, many more steps are required to find a job. These programs are here to help and assist you. These are some of the best programs for ex-felons to get jobs!  Why not contact one today?

Finding a Job – What You Should and Shouldn’t Do

Now, it’s time to put everything we’ve learned into practice. If you’ve received a Certificate of Rehabilitation, the time you’ve been waiting for has arrived. Unfortunately, finding a job with any sort of criminal record can be difficult. Back in 2012, Huffington Post noted that between 35% and 60% of “ex-felons” are unemployed.

In the above-listed programs, you will learn some extremely valuable skills. Yet, you can also take the initiative by following the advice we’re about to provide. What should you do while looking for a job? What shouldn’t you do when communicating with a company? You don’t want to ruin your chances by saying or doing the wrong thing, right?

What You Should Do

Above all else, we recommend being patient. You must remain persistent. Your confidence must not fade away. Oftentimes, ex-felons apply for jobs or enter an interview with an almost resigned nature. Instead, be confident!  Especially in security!  Your confidence will come across brilliantly and you’ll find yourself as a candidate being considered for the position.

Of course, you could consider the following.

Start Small

Sometimes, we come across ex-felons who have experience in security. Due to this, they try to get back into the industry at the same level. Instead, you should be willing to start a little lower than before. Earn that respect back!  Earn your stripes!  Prove that you’re worth the risk!  Soon enough, you’ll make new contacts.  New opportunities will be discovered and you’ll get good references too!

Be Honest (Don’t Lie!)

During the application stage of a job, many employers ask if you’ve ever been convicted. If you’ve previously been arrested without being convicted, don’t worry about mentioning anything. Otherwise, learn about the information you need to disclose to employers and be honest. If the employer discovers something with a background check, it’s better you’re honest about it. They would rather hear it from you than a computer screen.

As soon as an employer learns that you’ve lied, your resume will be thrown in the trash. With your honesty, tell the employer about your attendance in classes and programs. Don’t just tell them about your will to reform, show them with your actions.

Concentrate on Training

If you trained either before prison or during your time there, concentrate on this. Employers love to see candidates who want to improve their skills and themselves. Even if you had no work experience before prison, this training can be a wonderful and necessary asset. Within security, many skills are transferable. Employers love your effort, passion, and dedication in maintaining your training routine.

Reach Out to Contacts

Again, this applies to those who had experience in security before conviction as well as those who didn’t. Get in touch with old colleagues and friends. What about getting in touch with friends of friends, distant relatives, and others?  If they work in the industry, see if they can offer you a way in. As the saying goes, it’s all about “who you know, not what you know.” If you know somebody who runs a security company, this could also be a great opportunity. Alternatively, just somebody who can vouch for your character can be enough.

Consider Self-Employment If I Can’t Be a Security Guard as an Ex-felon 

So, you still can’t sleep?  You are still asking the question, can I be a security guard as an ex-felon? Well, have you ever thought about starting a business yourself? Of course, we wouldn’t recommend this to somebody with little experience in the industry. However, if you have something to offer in the way of experience and training, this could be a real option. As a freelance security business, you could provide services for:

  • Conferences
  • Carnivals
  • Events
  • Pop-up events
  • Festivals
  • Concerts

Your freelance security business could be popular at the right price. Before doing this, consider the competition and research what you need to get started. Also, feel free to speak with similar services to get advice. Although we treat the competition like an enemy normally, most will actually help if you ask.

Utilize Resources to Help You Be a Security Guard as an Ex-felon

As we’ve seen in this guide, there are plenty of programs for ex-felons to get work. As well as federal and state programs, consider evening classes and university resources. Reach out and you will see what’s available!

Don’t Give Up

What shouldn’t you do? As well as not lying, NEVER give up. Speak to people in the industry! Go through the training and keep working hard. Prove that your previous life isn’t a reflection of who you are right now. If one company rejects your application, keep your head held high and push forward to the next one.

Even without the felony, the job market is a difficult one. Learn all about the security industry.  Research on how to become an attractive candidate. We’ve provided some fantastic guides on resumes and interviews for security guards, so why not start here?

The Conclusion to Can I Be a Security Guard as an Ex-felon?

There are security guard companies that hire ex-felons. You just have to look for them. With this, we come to the end of our extensive guide (we hope you’ve gleaned some value from it!). If you go back to the beginning and look through the checklist, you should have a better understanding of all the items.

From red flag felonies to getting a Certificate of Rehabilitation to applying for jobs, we’ve covered lots of information today. This guide was full of valuable information. It also answered the question, can I be a security guard as an ex-felon? If necessary, go back over the table of content chapters and take some notes. Take advantage of the programs we’ve mentioned! Make sure your steps are going towards a positive future!

Finally, just take a few minutes to breathe and then relax.  You can’t do all of this in one day, so don’t you dare try!  What you can do is contact us if you have any additional questions about how you can be a security guard as an ex-felon.  We also have a video published entitled, Can an Ex-felon be a security guard? Take a listen to it!

6 thoughts on “Can I Be a Security Guard as an Ex-Felon?

  1. Tina

    This article was very helpful because I actually have a very close relative who had went to prison and is now trying to turn things around today. I’m sending this information to him because it’s very interesting to see how you put together what different convictions can interfere with getting a job and they can’t be security guard in what states have different rulings and everything so thanks for the research is very helpful.

    1. securityguardsplus1 Post author

      You are very welcomed. We, here at Experienced Security Guard Training Help Center, will help your relative in becoming a security guard. Please let this relative and any others know about our services!

  2. jeremy

    this is a great idea to start your own security business if u can’t get hired….but do u still need the guard card? or what all training do u need?

    1. securityguardsplus1 Post author

      Why would you not want to know everything about the business that you want to own? I would at least want to know every aspect of the business I own. For starters: here are some of what you may need Jeremy:
      Private Patrol Operator License
      Qualifications for Working as a Security Officer
      Completing an Application
      Obtain Permits
      Obtaining Liability Insurance
      Financial Backing
      Find Companies
      Maintain Your Reputation

      Hopes this helps and thanks for the question.

  3. Peter

    About what percentage of employers do you think (in regards to being a security guard) automatically throw an application in the trash if they see you’ve been convicted of a felony? Do you think people are a bit more willing to work with the person these days, especially if they’ve been through programs?

    If the question of if you’ve been accused of a crime is on the application, do you think it’s okay to mention you’ve been doing the programs, etc. too? Or maybe have some reference names for the programs just to validate authenticity?

    1. securityguardsplus1 Post author

      Our on-staff Security Guard Supervisor states about 80% of ex-felons applications are thrown in the garbage. Other research shows about 59% of job applications get thrown into the garbage.

      He also believes people/companies are more willing to work with ex-felons if they have been through the various programs offered in their individual states. We give in-depth coverage of Prisoner Re-Entry Programs to Help Ex-felons Become Security Guards on this website. Please also take the time to listen to our audio entitled, “Can an Ex-Felon Become a Security Guard.”

      Having Reference Names of the Programs and even telephone numbers can only help in my opinion.

      Concerning your second question, please keep in mind that there is a HUGE difference in being accused of a crime and convicted of a crime.

      Being charged with a crime merely means that the government has formally accused a person of a crime. A person charged with a crime is, by law, Innocent. Being convicted of a crime means that the person has pleaded guilty or has been found guilty after trial. A person convicted of a crime is, by law, Guilty. (From https://www.bostondefenselaw.com/blog/2017/01/what-is-the-difference-between-being-charged-and-being-convicted/)


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