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Discussion: How can registrants make a living?

This is an open discussion where you can share your ideas on how we registrants can find employment in a society that discriminates against us. For example:

  • What regulations we are up against;
  • Available job resources;
  • Tips on the types of jobs that are most available to us;
  • Your success story.

If your information is specific to your state, please mention the state.

We’d also like to hear your ideas on how registrants can start their own business—preferably without a major investment. What does it take? How can we avoid get-rich quick scams?  WARNING: No advertisements for specific businesses will be posted. We are discussing general concepts.


Join the discussion

  1. Leroy

    Self employment can be an excellent way for R.C.’s to survive or even thrive in this world. Finding a niche market (legal) that doesn’t require anything beyond a business license and an insurance policy that you can provide an in demand service for profit is the avenue that can make any of us a comfortable living. Now I’m not talking about a get rich quick scheme of any sorts, but usually just some old fashioned blue collar or no collar work.If you have any trade skills or a mechanical aptitude, artistic talents that are desireable, there is the potential to turn a profit. The hardest part is putting yourself out there, networking, and making connections with people that either need your service or know someone that does. It can be stressfull as all getout, but the rewards can be worth it. Don’t let the no’s beat you down!!! There will eventually be a yes, or many yes’s. My personal experience as a skilled repairman with a market demanding specialized skills in a small community where i had a great clientele pre conviction triumph built on tragedy. Most of my customers knew of my arrest, and I had a couple customers that still believed in me and were willing to hire me still. And over time (8 years now) all but a couple customers have returned and most have brought many new clients to my business. When I was sitting in jail, thinking all was lost, I would have never thought i could have bounced back as well as I have. I still pay it forward in many ways, a lot of charity work, hiring R.C.’s and finding them jobs in the community with business associates or just calling them to see how they are doing. I still see my probation officers and councillors around town and always get a smile and a handshake from them. Point being, don’t ever give up!! We are not second class citizens with no hope or future, but don’t wait for it to fall in your lap.. go out and make it happen!

    • PK

      “Most of my customers knew of my arrest, and I had a couple customers that still believed in me and were willing to hire me still.”
      I would add to this that depending if you live in a small city or town versus a large city where you service several clients per week, it could make sense to simply use your middle name on your business cards and transactions.

      • Timmmy

        Using middle name is wise. I have used my middle name my whole life. It is on nearly every thing. Vehicle registration, SSN card, insurance, tickets I purchase (airline, bus, etc.), debit cards, and more. Even my signature is middle and last name.

        Not sure why others are not doing the same.

    • Doug

      Very well said Leroy.
      I would add , work hard . harder than ever before. I have basickly hidden in my work since I got out of jail 1983. The result is I have been very sucessful in my trade, and recently retired. That in its self has helped me regain some self esteam.
      A very good supporting wife has helped !

    • Registry is Punishment

      I agree totally. Don’t give up.
      Self employment with a valuable trade is certainly a good way to go. Just make sure you’re not violating any laws in the process. Study the laws. Here in Pennsylvania I find that I am a lot more confident knowing what I can and can’t do whether it be in this state or another. Lucky for me my crime was in 2000 and it wasn’t until 2007 that I was forced to register. Between that time I had lost 2 careers because kids would be near even though the girl in my case was legal. That doesn’t matter when it’s looked at in black and white. People freak out. I have survived by doing things on my own.

      I know it would be impossible to keep my head straight going the normal way of working for a company because it could always be lost in an instant. It takes that one person to start yapping about your status as a sex offender and then it is all lost. Everything good you’ve done for the job is out the window and you’re forced to explain your situation to everyone. Some might care about you but then they think about the reputation of the company and they let you go.

      If you’re new to the registry just keep your head up and do your best. Follow the laws to a “T”. As time goes on things will get better. Focus on being a good person and keep your friends and family close. Be a good neighbor too. Don’t actively go near kids but save a child’s life if you’re needed to. Make sure you live a clean lifestyle, that way, if you are confronted everyone will jump in for you and squash the situation when the time is right because they know it’s the right thing to do.

      Almost forgot “My Say” mentioned small companies. Yes, that is a good thing to try. The less people there are the better I feel, and it’s a great way to learn a valuable trade. That’s how I learned what I do. It was a company consisting of 3 people. I was one of them. My boss was cool about the situation. He even didn’t care when I was forced onto the registry. You just need to keep trying and eventually you’ll find something. Good luck to everyone.

  2. My say

    Trade skills (metal work and the like) are pretty easy to walk into with little concern of background. And of course there are entry level jobs available as well. The larger companies do a background check and will likely not hire but smaller companies say 200 employees and down often don’t do any background at all as they are well aware they are hiring ex felons. One guy asked the owner of a company i once worked at, “how come we don’t do random drug tests?” the owner replied, “I would have to fire half my crew.” Point being, they have learned (in a sense) to not look to close. Long as you show up and do your job, all is well. It’s not a 100% kind of thing. your past may come out, but it’s enough to make it comfortable.

  3. kat

    Never give up.
    The restaurant industry is a potential source of jobs for registrants. If you can cook, you can work. And, you can always learn to cook if you don’t already know how.
    The pay as you move up in some places isn’t bad either.
    A registrant right out of prison was offered 5 line-cook positions within the first week he was out. A few were eliminated right off the bat because they were in what I’ll call “no-fly”zones, to near a school, too near a greenway, whatever.
    But he did take a position offered at one of the places that was in an appropriate area. He worked extremely hard and is doing quite well.
    It is possible to get back on your feet and there are employers, small restaurants or big chains that are willing to give those with a Scarlet Letter a chance.
    Keep trying, don’t let the registry win! You are worth more than that!

  4. norman

    Why won’t your regular license get renewed?

  5. Bruce Ferrell

    I’ve made a good living for twenty five years as a highly skilled registered citizen. For some periods of time, I worked 1099 vs W2. I’ve had to work at “under market” rates, but still was employed.

    It’s not been easy and quite often painful when I’ve encountered unlawful background checks… Where the checking agency quite obviously checked beyond seven years or the printout clearly showed a megans law site used.

    As the burden/expense of dealing with these instances has been squarely on my shoulders, I’ve found that I should just move on and try again. Do I like that? No, but I haven’t the resource to sue them so I pick my battles and save what I have for those efforts I feel I have a chance at.

    I was represented when I was convicted, but no one stood with me in the court room.

    I’ve never claimed innocence or it “wasn’t that bad”. It was. I’ve done all that I can to make amends. I was recently assaulted and law enforcement released my assailant on a misdemeanor charge. Free to try again, and likely will for what I hear.

    No one stands with me now.

    • linda

      I am so sad That no one stood by you Bruce . I have a brother that I have been by his side through most of his trouble ./ I believe in second changes . Once you can admit that what you did was wrong -no matter what it was -you can move forward and maybe people will come around . Everyone hated my brother and his charge was child porn . Not me . I stood by and fought and still do . People are coming =around slowing and letting him back into their lives . I hope the same can happen for you . Where you live there should be support groups you can start there . You should not be in this alone !

  6. مستثمر

    Many white collar trades can be done online. I discovered that many foreign companies “reverse outsource” white collar jobs, that can be done online, to Americans.

    • E @ arabic

      Can you provide a link or two to even start such a search? How would one find such companies?

      • مستثمر

        Sorry, that’s a “military secret.” More than “one of us” is too many. Hint… EVERYBODY in “this country” has multiple felons on their family tree.

      • C

        Try or I’m sure there are many others, but those are two I’ve used to hire free lance techs and artists for brochure work.

  7. Popeye

    Oddly, I was able to get a contractors license post conviction in 1993. I disclosed on the application and since it was not fraud or embezzlement they allowed it! I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t happen today. I have lost customers and get glared at by neighbors from time to time.
    Living in a county of pop 150,000 there is enough work to go around. Most customers want someone to show up and do a good job, if you do they often recommend you to others.
    I made a good living and was able to retire. Self employment is awesome/terrifying and everything else. Around here if you have skills you can get work through CraigsList. Show up and do a good job and people love you. I am not saying it is easy but in my case it worked.

    • Tim Moore

      I didn’t think it was odd at the turn of the century, when I got my contractors license when on probation. Neither did my probation officer. The rule then was to disclose construction related convictions on the application, which I had none. I wasn’t going to work with or supervise children, so what would have been the big deal. It fit into my rehabilitation plan: Find meaningful work. That was more of the general thinking WAY back then, a big 17 years ago. Things have gone way overboard in the blick of the eye, historically speaking. Only now, when any sex offense disqualifies you from most all incidental contact with the public during work, do we find it odd people with past convictions can actually get licenses to work in their trade. That is the new normal as the moral panic reaches its zenith. There is rightly so much praise for ban the box and lightening license restrictions. It is actually nothing progressive. It is retro-action back towards what it was like a couple decades and more ago.


    eBay is a great way to earn a living. It has paid my bills for 8 years now. It’s amazing the things people will buy. Start off selling things you have now that you no longer need. Anything old can sell. Any parts from broken things can sell. Purchase things from garage sells for very cheap to sell. Use your smart phone to check on what an item sells for on eBay before purchasing anything. You can take an old broken lawn mower and tear it apart and sell all the old obsolete parts for $100. I recently found that I had a box of old 1985-95 Time magazines, I listed them on eBay and have been getting about $10 each for the ones in very good condition. The only drawbacks are storing your inventory, learning about shipping, learning eBay rules and the time required to get and list your inventory. Once you get good at eBay, you can become a middleman to sell other companies items so that you won’t need an inventory. You can also sell on Amazon.

    • Frustrated

      Yes. A client’s son does that. He gets stuff for jeeps, chevy and Ford trucks. Stuff like hitch inserts, jeep soft tops, and accessories, he then resells on ebay. He bought a home in the valley, a corvette, and a viper! He keeps very little inventory and works out of his garage.

  9. New York Level 1

    New York state has a “ban the box” law that is helpful insofar as you can wait until an interview to decide whether or not to bring it up. Bringing it up in the interview helps you to contextualize your crime, i.e. you can bring along letters of support, talk about what you have done to rehabilitate yourself, put the really important details of the crime into play. You can try to humanize yourself a little bit.

    I’m lucky in that I work for the non-profit sector, where it seems that, in many if not most cases, hiring mangers either don’t care enough to bother with the expense of the criminal record check or actively don’t want to disadvantage people with criminal records.

    I’m also lucky that I was able to have a decent career before my conviction and was lucky enough to get accepted to grad school after my conviction, so I’ve been able to basically show that I’m still determined to be productive.

    Best of luck all

  10. Standing with you

    I read these blogs to learn about the issues. I have had two friends that were on the registry. One was a contact crime( he married her!) and the other was a misdomeanor internet offense.
    My one friend took his life last year after his daughter was harassed by her friend’s parents. We all miss him. He was a good man, husband, and father. He luckily didn’t need to worry about employment since his family owned a nation wide business.
    My second friend lost everything. His professional license, job, and identity. He went and took his knowledge and experience and started a personal training business. He lives in the Bay Area and makes $90 a session. He works under a different name, and does private clients. He struggled for a while, because he said he couldn’t get past the anxiety of possible exposure.
    Now he is busy, has a good clientel. He goes to their business or home to work with them. He needed to do some advertising initially, but now works off referrals.
    He has a background in the field, but says anyone can be certified, and work in smaller fitness studios for a 1099. This way the trainer can start with studio clients, then start picking up their own.
    He says two clients know about his offense, but he had helped them so much, and since the relationship had been established, there was no judgement.
    So in closing, remember that those who crticize or try to belittle you aren”t worth worrying about. Reach out to friends that know you. We want you in our lives and support you.
    And there are many occupations( not just jobs) that you can be financially and emotionally successful at if your trade has been taken from you.
    1. Mobile Auto Detailing
    2. Personal Training
    3. Animal walking/ sitting.

    These jobs actually pay quite well, you can stay anonimous, and have little stress. But like any self employment job, you are or are not your own success.
    BTW, my buddy works with me 2x a week and I feel great!
    To all out there, the crappy stuff you read here isn’t how it really is. Your lives brought you to this point, both good and bad. Don’t run half a race and quite, you probably have what it takes to win the race!

  11. Tax Man

    California: If you’re good with numbers, consider taking a crash tax course. You can pay a small fee to train under a national company. Then, once training is completed, try getting on with a small tax prep firm during busy season. You may find this seasonal work is enough to carry you a long way at $75 to $150 per return. There is huge demand Jan – Apr.

    Once you’ve got experience, if you can get a $5,000 bond, you can get your CA tax preparer “license” through CTEC. This is a private (non-govt) licensing agency. If you had a CTEC license, you could prepare from your own office/home.

    If you get good, take the IRS Enrolled Agent exam. They do ask if you’ve had a felony conviction on the application, but the question seems to lean towards financial and tax crimes. (When renewing the EA, the question is “felony in the last ten years”). If you’ve self-trained, licensed and passed the EA examination, you’d be prepared for more complex returns and a larger fee base.

    • Tax Prep Ready

      Thank you for this post. I read it back in October 2018 and was too late to take the course then. So I kept an eye out for this year’s tax return course. I took the course in late August for $150 at H&R Block. I had to interview with them so I did and they rejected the job offer due to my conviction. It hit me hard but after a few hours, I reminded myself that the goal was to apply with a small preparation company.
      On Friday, I passed the final exam and submitted the application for a PTIN with IRS. I received the welcome letter and approval the next morning.
      I’ve been researching local small businesses and seem to have discovered that Liberty Tax does not (or for the most part) run background checks. So, I went ahead and responded to a job ad I found on CL. Lets see how it goes.
      Anyways, THANK YOU for the post. You have no idea how much hope and determination its given me.
      With gratitude,

      • mike

        Congrats! Way to push past the obstacles and find a way to make it work. Good luck!

  12. JohnDoeUtah

    I used my pre-conviction experience in electronics from the military (courts-martial) and worked as an electronics technician, even for government contractors. I lost my security clearance, but all that means is I can’t work for some of the large contractors or in certain roles. Also, a big plus is that a courts-martial is not technically a felony per Title 10 of the US Code, so I can legally say no on applications. Only thing that ever showed up was when they did a registry search, most did not. I found a home on the Manufacturing side of the business, and do some design that is not classified. It helped in a few situations that my victim is a part of my life as is our now teenage son.

    12 years later I am no longer required to register under the laws of my non-AWA state. That is always subject to change. However, I completed my Bachelors in Electrical Engineering several years ago, and work as an Engineer as my “day job.” I also am enrolled and attending classes online for my Masters, and own a small real estate firm on the side. I am hoping to break six figures with my day job in the next 3 years.

    It is very possible to make a life for yourself, the biggest step is to not let others tell you what you can and cannot do. Reject the label.

  13. Love the VA

    OK while not quite what one would consider full-time employment, I currently use my VA benefits and go to school and get a decent housing allowance. I’ve got about 15 months of benefits left but have completed 3/4 of my degree so will start work on my masters as far as I can.

    I’m lucky in that my wife brings home the main income for the family, but add in my VA pay and Pell grant really makes a world of difference!

    Doing all that while being a stay-at-home Dad with 3 kids sure makes it feel like two full-time jobs!

  14. USA

    Good job! VA, good job. I actually lost a professional license in Health Care. It was almost worst than going through my legal process. Honestly, there isn’t a day that goes by (20 plus years) where I don’t think about this loss. I later went back to school and obtained a Graduate Degree. Unfortunately, getting into a business position or utilizing a straight business degree isn’t like healthcare. I had a really great job in the Banking Industry (my offense was expunged). While working in Banking, I applied for an Underwriting position within a large Healthcare Organization (stable/increased pay/great benefits). I got the job after going through multiple interviews. A week later, I was fired! Unknown to me, when you loose a professional license in healthcare, you are sanctioned via Medicare? That was a questioned asked via my application. I had no idea.

  15. Randall J Saunders

    I started a pressure washing business, which had turned into a handyman service! My customers love me!

    • TS


      No public reviews on any of the websites (who shall go unnamed here) which publish customer reviews and star ratings after providing background checks, etc?

  16. Tim Moore

    I think a group of registrants should get together and create a workers cooperative. This form of business is growing in popularity, especially with those groups who have been shut out from traditional employment hierarchies.

  17. Jay

    I had a small motorcycle repair business prior to my arrest. I restarted that company once I was released. It has been hard but not all due to my status. Some months I really struggle, others I do well. But it is growing.

    Here is my opinion. While I am writing this on the perspective of living in Boise, Idaho, I am sure it applies everywhere. We need to look at this as two separate issues. Getting a job, and obtaining a worthwhile career. They should be looked at completely different.

    First, get a job. Over my 50 years on this planet, I have always found that if you are truly willing to work hard, you can get a job. It may not be pretty, glamorous, or prestigious, but it is a job. You may have been an engineer, accountant, etc., before your arrest, but now you need to be thankful you got a job as a flagger for construction projects.

    Once you have a job, any job, then you can start working towards something meaningful. Your original career may be out of the question, but maybe not. It may just be really hard to get back into. Now is the time to start working on this. Maybe taking some night classes. Maybe think about starting a business. But do it all while you are working a regular job to put food on the table.

    Even though I own my business, I want to retire from it at some point. Wrenching is a young mans game and I am not young any more. So I am now a 50 year old college freshman. And I am going for a degree in something that will be difficult to find work in, but not impossible. Counseling. I volunteer as a mentor for the department of correction with freshly released inmates, and through church with college aged kids. I love it. I am told I am good at it. I will never be able to get state licensing for this profession, but through research I found that I can get certified via other means and work in other areas that do not require the state licensing. I am going to a Bible college and have been told by multiple pastors that many churches would be eager to hire someone with my checkered past who has come through it and wants to turn it around and help others. There are also many faith based charities and organizations where my past will not only not be a hindrance, but a blessing to them.

    Do not take a few “no thank you’s” as a final word that you can not succeed. It is much harder for us, but not impossible.

    Please understand that I am completely sympathetic to much of the depression found among us. And I suffer from it as well. I still have 14.5 years remaining on state probation for my crime and it is hell. I have a dark cloud that wants to surround me each and every day. I find myself wishing I would just get cancer and die (I am too chicken to actually do it myself, which is a good thing). But each day I get up and find the strength to go through another day. I believe that God has me on a path for something, I am just not quite sure what it is yet. And since His ways are better than mine, I better just stick it out and figure out what He has in mind for me.

    Another thing while I am talking about depression. If you are dealing with it, do not do it alone. Talk to someone. Get help. Talk to your pastor, doctor, friend, etc., but talk to someone. I lost my good friend and roommate to suicide two years ago and it should have not ended that way. He was doing so well, but just could not see through that dark cloud. It will get better. And we need to be able to find ways of becoming content within our situations. I wish I had the answer as to how, but we need to keep working towards it.

    Sorry for getting off topic.

  18. TS

    I just read this and thought it could be useful here in this thread or maybe on its own, I don’t know and leave that to ACSOL to decide. However, it details the struggle many registrants have (including myself), but he does come out on top in the end, as a felon. The registrant does face an extra layer of issues beyond just a felony conviction which need to be fought continually. There are also many details from general perspectives here that are helpful to put things into the light how folks are held back, e.g. off-limit careers and licenses, etc. At the same time, I see resources here of legal minds who may be able to assist going forward.

    For your reading leisure…

    Could an Ex-Convict Become an Attorney? I Intended to Find Out

    • R M

      @TS: thank you for posting this story. The trials and tribulations any felon goes through at times seem worthless, none the less, the writer explored them all and finally succeeded. Hope we all can too.

    • Timmmy

      Problem is the type of crimes. Even under most places felon can become a police officer. If you look laws on the books (lat time I did) the prohibition of felons of having guns excluded police officers. However, if you look closely, those which are excluded from become police officers, or attorneys are those with crimes of “moral turpitude.”

    • New Person

      In case some people didn’t know, the President of ACSOL is proof that a felon could eventually become a lawyer … again. = )

      He’s got great courage, bravery, and will power to overcome so many obstacles. I’m just not as strong.

  19. Robert Curtis

    Some jobs that require a background check still might not disqualify you but it’s the discomfort of the ordeal that is most discouraging. best to just gain a skill and be self-employed as I have. I train registrants and/or their family members to sharpen salon scissors for hairdressers. I’ve used this skill to fight back politically by harnessing relationships gained to get politicians elected to office and kicked out.

    • Robert Curtis

      Oh if anyone whats to learn a hands on skill (I invented the machine) that can be used to also fight the registry give me a call Robert (949) 872-8768.

  20. mike r

    Do not forget about going back to college and earning degrees. I am 50 now and have been going on four years now in college, had all my general ed to make up, including math and English and all that in every semester. Took two years of GE classes just to get caught up before I could even start taking real college classes. I worked and paid my wife’s way thru college for her bachelors degree, of course she has some serious debt from student loans but that was from before we got together. By the time we got together she ran out of student loans and all that because she was going to school for like twelve years and has like ten degrees. So now she makes about 50,000 and I am going to school and getting about 20,000 a year, which about 8,000 of it I have to pay back. That is ok though because I am just going to keep going until they stop paying me and as long as you are enrolled in 6 units in anything they cannot make you pay back the loans. Grad school is supposed to pay a lot better as well, of course higher loans as well, but if you have nothing else going on, or just want to get educated, I say go for it. I know 20,000 a year does not seem like much, but that is un-taxed, and I get medical from SSI and SSI even pays me about two hundred a month still, even with her wages. SSI does not count school money by the way. If I was not married I would be getting like 12,400 from SSI so I would be getting about 32,400 a year or more. That is not bad money, especially all tax free. Who of us really wants to pay the enemies our hard earned money anyways right? Shit I have paid plenty in taxes anyways throughout my life… yeah I am liking college a lot and really enjoying what I am doing now instead of just earning a paycheck or worrying about all the shit that goes with running my own business, been there done all that. And they cannot fire you or prevent you from going as long as you are passing your grades. I know people that are at 2.2 GPAs and they still go and get all the financial aid still. As long as you keep above 2.0 (I am at 3.6 GPA myself :), math has been about the hardest classes, of course I am also going for the hardest science degrees you can get as well, figure might as well go all in if you are going to do it, that has always been my approach to life) they cannot stop you from going. Just a thought people, and I really like this section being put up on ACSOL, this is really cool. I hope this helps thousands of people.

  21. cool CA RC

    I was able to get a licence to be a car saleperson.

    I now work in IT.

  22. Roger

    This is an interesting article on how employers should consider sex offender registry records in California:

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