After serving the sentence and you’re now thinking of becoming a carpenter, the first thing that comes to your mind is can you join the carpenters union even with a felony? We will try to answer that and give you advice.
Please do remember that requirements for felons to become a carpenter depend on the local union where you are applying and on the state and where you are in.
Every carpenters’ union has its own set of requirements if they allow applicants with a felony record or not. The other thing that comes into play is the state’s regulation where you are in.
With that being said, find a union where you can apply.
If you find a union, it is important to be honest with them. During an interview, you may be asked about your background --- disclose your history.
I understand you may have a second thought telling this, but the idea here is to establish a level of truthfulness.
If you lie and don’t disclose your background at the beginning of the process, you would not get away, as the union may run a background check anyway, and if they later found about it, your application will be affected and it certainly will not get approved.
If You Can’t Find a Union, You Can Do This Instead
Being part of the union is not the only path to enter this trade. If you want to put in a little effort, you can complete a carpenter training course and start your own handyman business. Ex-felons who have the right skills are in a better position succeeding anyway.
Starting your own business may seem a lot of work, but if you find a partner with the same passion as you, you would be surprised how things aren’t that complicated after all since you’re two.
Another option for you to take if you can’t be accepted in the union is to find a local contractor in your area who is willing to employ you as a carpenter/helper even you have a felony record – provided you have the skills.
You may be astounded finding quite a few contractors who are ready to take you in since construction is an industry in constant need of a skilled workforce - you may find it easy to get a job there.
Please do remember that any employer can choose to refuse anyone with or without a felony record. What’s Important to them is if you’re good at your skills and if you can be a good asset.
Will Moving to Another State Allow You To Be Accepted in the Union
As we mentioned above, the second thing that comes into play is the state’s regulation where you are living as each state has its own law about it. California for example is now enacting a major reform in trade licensing for its 8 million residents with records. This is a brave move to help those who have troubled past to re-join society.
And besides, employers’ attitudes are now changing because skilled carpenters are becoming scarce prompting them to employ candidates even with a felony in the past as long those people can bring benefits to the company. Employees with records bring much significance to the company as those without records.
If you’re moving to another state, there’s a good chance you get accepted in the union and just make sure that state you’re moving in provides opportunities for felons.
Other General Requirements When Joining a Carpenters Union
If you’re successful in finding a union that will absorb you, there are other requirements that you have to submit as part of the joining process:
- The nature of the job is physically demanding, you have to be in optimum health and physical condition.
- You will be required to submit your high school or a GED certificate as its equivalent document; if you can’t produce one of those, you may submit a transcript showing completion 2 years in high school.
- Be at least 18 years old, though there is no upper age limit.
- You will also be required to have a social security card.
- Driver’s license or state identification.
Call your union’s hotline number to talk to a representative if you need help in knowing what are the other requirements other than those mentioned above.
Ways for Felons to Increase Opportunity
Being a felon should not stop you from realizing your dream. Everyone has equal opportunity, remember that. There are ways to increase your odds of getting a job and be marketable:
- Go to college – to help you defray the expenses of going to college, you can apply for a student loan. Yes, you heard it right. Being a felon doesn’t mean you’re not qualified for such government assistance. Visit the FAFSA website and see if you can qualify. The student loan doesn’t cover all the college expenses, but just a portion of it. Colleges do offer carpentry courses.
- Take a carpenter training course – again, we said it already. If you want to develop marketable skills as a carpenter, you can complete a training program that takes a shorter amount of time to finish than going to college. The programs are offered by trade schools in your area. The requirements of trade schools are not as strict as when applying in the union so even you have a felony record, you can easily be accepted.
- Expunge your felony record – If you really want to clean your record, the only process is through expungement. This action requires a specialized lawyer to handle your case as every state has its own law. If you want to go through this, you can talk to a lawyer and see what your options are. When successful expunging the felony record, it will no longer show up when a potential employer or a union runs a background check on you.
Having a job is the first part of the integration process to society – and you’ve chosen to be a carpenter.
While it is true that people with felony records find it particularly difficult to get accepted in the union; but it shouldn’t deter you from attaining your goal of becoming a carpenter.
Don’t give your ambition of being a union carpenter. You may not have the skills right now, but if you start the journey, everything will come into its correct places.