Professional License Restrictions
Those who have “been convicted of any felony or of any crime involving moral turpitude in the courts of this state or any other state, territory, or country” are subject to having their application denied on account of their conviction.[i] This restriction severely curtails the number of professions available to people coming out of prison, many of which offer considerable promise for returning citizens given the vocational training they received in prison.
As it stands now, nearly 80 professions are off-limits to those with a felony conviction, including becoming a barber, cosmetologist, electrical contractor, plumber, conditioned air contractor, auctioneer, utility contractor, registered trade sanitarian, and scrap metal processor, among others.[ii]
Lift Restrictions and Open-Up Job Opportunities
In order to open-up a greater range of professions for returning citizens, the state of Georgia should lift blanket restrictions on professional licenses. Some of the professions most suitable to returning citizens’ skillsets are currently inaccessible to them because they are barred from acquiring a license in those professions. These blanket restrictions should be replaced with reasonable criteria for determining whether a given profession is suitable for a person given his or her criminal history.
As is the case for determining whether any particular job is suitable for a person given his or her felony conviction, professional licensing boards should consider the following factors in determining whether the granting of a license is appropriate:
- The nature of the crime committed and its relation to the license sought
- The time elapsed since the crime
- The applicant’s age at the time of the crime
- The evidence that the applicant has been rehabilitated[iii]
By using these criteria, professional licensing boards can eliminate unreasonable licensing restrictions while ensuring that public safety is protected. A person might be restricted from obtaining a license in one profession due to the nature of his or her crime, but prove to be an excellent candidate for receiving a license in numerous other professions where his or her crime is unrelated. These decisions must always be determined on a case-by-case basis, just as they are for applicants without a felony conviction.
A Look at Other States
Many states are already working toward increasing opportunities for those with felony convictions to obtain professional licenses. Currently, “21 states have standards that require a ‘direct,’ ‘rational,’ or ‘reasonable’ relationship between the license sought and the applicant’s criminal history to justify the agency’s denial of a license.”[iv]
- Colorado law mandates that a felony conviction or other offense involving “moral turpitude” cannot, in and of itself, prevent a person from applying for and receiving an occupational license.[v]
- New Mexico only allows occupational licensing authorities to disqualify applicants from felony or misdemeanor convictions involving “moral turpitude” if they are directly related to the position or license sought.[vi]
- Connecticut requires a state agency to first consider the relationship between the offense and the job, the applicant’s post-conviction rehabilitation, and the time elapsed since conviction and release before determining a person is not suitable for a license.[vii]
- Louisiana forbids licensing agencies from disqualifying a person from obtaining a license or practicing a trade solely because of a prior criminal record, unless the conviction directly relates to the specific occupation. In the event the applicant is denied because of a conviction, the reason for the decision must be made explicit in writing.[viii]
Enabling people with felony convictions to acquire professional licenses in Georgia would benefit a variety of stakeholders. Not only would it give returning citizens greater access to a variety of occupations and enable them to support themselves and their families, it would also make the most of current job-training programs offered in state prisons, create opportunities for expansion and partnership with technical schools, and enable offenders to maximize their time in prison and develop transferable job skills. Together, these advantages would work to reduce recidivism, utilize taxpayer dollars more efficiently, and promote public safety in Georgia.
Image credit: Wrightsville Beach Plumbing (featured image) and Mahanomi Health and Beauty Care Info
[i] O.C.G.A. § 43-1-19; italics added.
[ii] O.C.G.A. §§ 43-1 to 43-51.
[iii] Legal Action Center, “Recommended Key Provisions,” para. 6, http://www.lac.org/toolkits/standards/ Key%20Provisions%20-%20Standards.pdf.
[iv] Legal Action Center, “Standards for Hiring People with Criminal Records,” Advocacy Toolkits to Combat Legal Barriers Facing Individuals with Criminal Records, accessed November 29, 2013, para. 8, http://www.lac.org/toolkits/standards/standards.htm.
[v] Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-5-101; Legal Action Center, “Overview of State Laws that Ban Discrimination by Employers,” 2, http://www.lac.org/toolkits/standards/Fourteen_State_Laws.pdf.
[vi] Legal Action Center, “Overview of State Laws,” 3.
[vii] Ibid., 1.
[viii] La. Rev. Stat. § 37:2950.
This post was adapted from Georgia Center for Opportunity’s December 2013 report titled Increasing Employment Opportunities for Ex-Offenders.
Ive been in the elecrical field for about 16 yrs. I have a family and I have a problem, I want to get my master license but I have felonys from 2003 (drug related. And a felony conviction in 1999, theft by receiving. And in 1993 as well. Burglary I wired state owned buildings on a work detailed . I did the controls on the jackson supermax prison, so long story short. I have a horrible past but ive been straight for12 yrs now, had a job for almost 10 yrs at the same olace, made it ele trical manager. But heres the thing guys. Do I even have a chance at getting a chance at taking the test? Need I apply, and pkease be honest with your db opinions.
Yes, I think you should apply for the test what happened back then that was your past not your future nor now and if there a question on the application to explain what happened in your past be honest about it explain how you’ve learned from your mistakes and if they allow you to take the test take it and if you pass continue doing what’s right if you don’t pass continue taking the test until you do pass and if you not allowed to take the test understand the reasons why? and continue to do what’s right and don’t give up only the strong survive,a anything in this life.
I have a terroristic threats charge and plead guilty that was 98 and no charges since but it’s hurting me at 56 on jobs
They should let you take the test you earn it u change your life why not give a person a chance that my belief sorry about that is a way of holding us back always in life sorry brother jus hang in there it will change leave it in God hands
I understand that certain criminal records may put a scare to certain individuals, but I also believe and seconds chances…Everyone that commits a crime might be criminals and many eyes…but there is a reason for everything…Past history during child hood could have took them to another level changed them by force through pain, hurt and suffering. So I don’t judge a books by its cover ever because who am I to judge another person without knowing the story behind it the pain and suffering, the torcher they went through…pass has plenty to do with the present….
Well said and so very true!!
I to have what’s consider most a horrible background. But like you said here, a lot of what I was about and have done in the past had a lot to do with the truma I indured as a child. I grew up confused,angry and I hurt a lot of people along the way particularly family members. Going to prison gave me first, the opportunity to find and know God. Secondly, it gave me the opportunity to gain impathy for others. Third, the first 2 allowed me to become humble to the people (Therapist) that helped me to understand why I feel, thought , and beehave the way that I did all those years. I share all this to say that inside inknew that I was a really good guy but the emotional guy I had allowed myself to become wouldn’t trust him to come forth. I work, when I’m blessed to, in the Construction/Carpentry Industry. I’m a Concrete Finisher by trade. Sometimes I’m blessed to get a job without the background question coming up. But sometimes I’m not as blessed particularly this year. I haven’t worked since 11/07/2017. I’m definitely not the same person I used to be with the out of control emotional tendencies I carried around so long. I’ve done my time and did without violence. Why am I still being punished. I’m married to a very lovely women who in my backbone whom I want to provide for and take care of. But society won’t allow me too. I would love to get my Contractor’s License and am in the process of doing so. But I’m afraid these restrictions may not permit that to happen. I would love to be a productive citizen again. I’ve made my peace with God and I believe He has forgiven me, why can’t society.
I agree 100%. I’ve got an 18 page long criminal history and have rehabilitated myself after a long battle with drug abuse which led me to do the crimes I’m guilty of. I’ve been clean since coming home from prison in 2019 and am trying to go to cosmetology school but they say I can’t sit for the exam because of my felonies. I’m appalled at lawmakers and our unforgiving society….America is supposed to be a place of freedom and second chances but it’s anything but for people like me. Regardless, I’m taking this to the state lawmakers and I’m not stopping until I get results. I want to live a happy, fulfilling life and be able to support myself legally….I’m an American citizen just like everyone else and have done my time and paid dearly for my mistakes. There’s no reason I should have to continue to pay for the rest of my life, especially when I’m trying so hard to do the right thing. This is why Georgia’s recidivism rate is so much higher than other states and it’s past time that something should be done to address and correct all this
I have 2 felonies (C.S.C.S. 2nd & ASSAULT 2nd & 3rd and 3 misdemeanors all convicted in 1988. I went to prison came home 3 yrs later tried to get a security job denied my license. Applied and received my Certificate of Relief from Disabilities submitted copy to licensing and they gave me my license. I left security got a NYS Civil Service job (mental health facility). I’m now 55 living in GA working for the county. I applied for a juvenile correction had all the qualifications except I’m a felon from another state and can not get the Georgia Peace Officer Standard Training Council certification. I think that is so sad. Got locked up at 19 and will say I should be a perfect candidate for a 2nd chance to restore all rights
I am 63 years old been an electrician 27 years. I was convicted of armed robbery in 1983 I did 23 years 8 months in prison. 23 years old when I went to prison,36 when I got out. No arrest since I’ve gotten out wanted my license for many years. I’ll retire without them. It’s just wrong to make my 25 year sentence that I completed into a life sentence. Georgia makes it very hard for people with felony’s to be successful ga prison I’d 151685
13 years 8 months ( not 23 )
I know the obstacles felons will endure after becoming a felon. You are branded for life if you work in the fields that require background checks. I’m not here to put down the officials or felons but something needs to be done to help keep productivity in our country going. I’m not rich in no means other than friends and family. But everyone should be treated with respect and fairness it doesn’t matter what race. We all have a dream and it can’t be real unless we forgive.
This is so true. I am going through it right now. Trying to get my Barber/Stylist license in Florida. Still waiting on a answer. I have to answer to my record and it was 12 years ago. It’s a double standard that movie stars. Basketball players. Music tycoons and not leaving out Martha Stewart and whoever else is rich can have felony convictions and or rape women, pay them off, go to prison, get out and still go back making millions and they aren’t branded for life. So in the end money talks and bullshit walks I suppose. Then there is someone like me who has changed their life,,,,,,Made a thousand better choices and decisions (ten fold) that trump what I did when I was younger and I have to beg for an opportunity to have a good productive life for myself, my children and my family. It’s redundant and ridiculous. I paid my debt to the state and its never ending. So at the end of the day. I own what I did. I’m sorry. But for the love of God something has to be done.
Were you able to get your license ? I’m thinking of doing the same … also worried
Thankfulness to my father who shared with me regarding this web site, this webpage is really remarkable.
I’ve had my cosmetology license since the 80’s. It is now time to renew it and I received a letter from the State Board of Cosmetology requesting my criminal record. They have never asked for this before and I have been recently convicted of a non violent felony 1 conviction. Will this prevent me from renewing my license?
What happened going through the something now
No you’ll be fine… promise
I committed a felony in 1995 is there help for me I need to do a back ground check Help
I am trying to find the mandate on this subject for the state of Texas. Can anyone give me or tell me where to find the specific mandate for Texas?
You may try the Attorney Generals office of the State of Texas. Good place to start.
My name is Taylor.. I am 33 years old.. I recently go to school for cosmetology. I just found out that if i have a felony on my record i can NOT receive my license. However i am very upset and outraged about this because when I signed up and met with the staff. i told them and they are aware of my record. They said that i would be ok. But as I looked deeper into this matter I now realize that my honesty did not avoid me getting a $20 grand loan that I AM RESPONSIBLE to pay back for a future that I may not enable to have to provide for my daughters.
Can someone please read this, and get back to me with you opinion or possible solution
I also saves this site to show the coordinator that I had met up with to sign the paperwork.
You should be able to get your loan forgiven sometime this year. The federal government is trying to pass a law that forgives up to $50000 of student loans. And since you went to a trade school I’m pretty sure your loan is federal like mine. I went to Hvac school for 20 grand as well so I’m looking into this as well. Keep your eyes and ears open you will have your opportunity. Also you can apply for a pardon from your state 5 years after your sentence is up, and then you can get your license like you wanted all along! You will be fine just stay strong and keep praying! If you want it bad enough it will happen and know me and others are going through the same thing! If you need anything you can email me take care!
Did you ever get your license? The school I attended did the same thing to me! 20,000 dollars! I told them I had felonies and was told I would be fine. Now it’s been 3 months and the board still has not granted me my license.
I would like to further my career in law. I have heard that because of my 2 strikes and a silent that I am unable to even take the bar exam. I am denied this opportunity because of a very large mistake that I made almost 20 years ago. Granted I did this to myself I would love to be an example for my children and show them that one can still be productive even with having made drastic mistakes. I am a homeowner and taxpayer and I see myself as a productive member of society. I also understand that there is no blanket law in California. I could really use some insight on this subject if anyone is knowledgeable. Thank you,
I am a convicted felon. Possession of a dangerous weapon without a permit ( brass knuckles) . Now I was in my twenties when that happened . I’ve been sober for over 8 years and have owned and operated a successful business I even worked directly with federal Marshall’s. Now the truly outrageous thing with Georgia is they are holding my past against me. I paid my debt to society but yet it’s being held against me. I really think these politicians need to read and learn the bill of rights. They ARE violating the rights of all felons we paid our debt. This falls under cruel and unusual punishment. Your debit was paid when you were released from prison or probation. To use that as a disqualifier is illeagel and a violation of your God given civil rights. Something Georgia politicians have done far to much. Just like our right to bear arms. I was convicted of a nonviolent offence and it should mean something. I’m almost 50, that happened in my early 20’s, a lifetime ago but it’s still held over my head. I can’t vote, I can’t hunt, I can’t protect my family, and cant hold a business license ,but according to the law, my debt is and was paid for twenty something years ago. I think these are real issues that need to be addressed.
Will I ever be able to obtain a come to license in GA
I would like to buy into a restaurant that already has its liquor license ( 19% ) in Atlanta Georgia but I have been convicted of a felony in 2012…. How can I go about this ???
I was convicted of a crime in 2002 In the state of Nevada ( voluntary manslaughter) I did 14 years for the crime but i have not been back in any trouble since but will that prevent me from obtaining a peddling license in Georgia
No one human genuinely cares about the quality of life of a stranger that’s why the internet is full of shoulda woulda talk but no ways the mass human livestock can take action to get solutions. Humans that are well off care not if the short 60ish years were all here for involve the suffering of others so that they can be straight the whole time, but I have some good news not yet touched on much the humans are on a path to reaching an A.I.singularity that in the next hundred years will hit exponential growth and self learn until it has realized it needs humans as much as humans need ant hills. It’s foretold in bibles as the Antichrist and it will seal the fate of these horrible humans until the day the sun explodes “God’s wrath destroying it” and that will be that. So let them enjoy their things that can’t stand the test of time we will all be in the same dirt in the end.
To be honest we have the caught and uncaught. We all have broken the law at some point intentionally or unintentionally. With a drug possession I am unable to obtain a GC license. I cannot pull permits for jobs even though I am more qualified than most. I made poor choices and served the terms of the conviction. Now that the smoke has cleared, I am unable to advanced my career. Should I lower my standards on reaching my goals. My decisions to use drugs years ago have no relationship with my abilities today.
I need to know what states can an ex-felon be licensed in the trades
Once the appropriate Board Office (DBPR) has approved a candidate’s eligibility to take an examination, the candidate’s file is sent electronically to Pearson VUE. https://www.aaaconstructionschool.com/jax-classes/
I am a convicted felon who recently graduated from culinary school, started a LLC, love to cook and bake so I started a online bakery which allowed me to be self employed stay at home mother/baker, and now want to venture into food truck services with catering. As I researched the matter I found out in order to run a food truck service in Georgia you have to obtain a business license and criminal background check. What are the odds that I will not be able to obtain my license for my business? I know people who obtained their barber licenses in a state facility (prison) and work in other business owner shops. Why would they offer these trainings and trades without being able to use them.