Can You Work At The Airport With A Felony Conviction?

Having a felony conviction can make finding a job incredibly difficult. Many employers are reluctant to hire someone with a criminal record, especially for positions that require security clearances or extensive background checks.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: In most cases, yes you can work at the airport with a felony conviction. However, it depends on the specific job and airport policies.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the various positions available at airports, look at both federal and airport-specific hiring policies, and provide tips for improving your chances of getting an airport job with a felony.

Background Check and Security Requirements for Airport Jobs

Working at an airport can be an exciting career opportunity, but it also comes with certain security requirements and background checks. These measures are in place to ensure the safety and security of passengers, employees, and the airport itself.

One common concern for individuals with a felony conviction is whether they can work at an airport. Let’s explore the background check and security requirements for airport jobs.

TSA Security Threat Assessments

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for securing our nation’s transportation systems, including airports. As part of the hiring process for certain airport jobs, the TSA conducts security threat assessments on individuals.

These assessments are used to determine if an individual poses a potential threat to aviation security. While having a felony conviction doesn’t automatically disqualify someone from working at an airport, it may affect the outcome of the security threat assessment.

Did you know? The TSA conducts over one million security threat assessments each year for airport employees.

Criminal History Records Checks

A criminal history records check is another important aspect of the background check process for airport jobs. This check is conducted to determine if an individual has any criminal convictions or charges.

The specific requirements and standards may vary depending on the position and airport, but generally, a felony conviction could be a cause for concern.

Fun fact: Criminal history records checks are conducted not only for employees but also for individuals who require access to restricted areas of the airport, such as contractors and vendors.

Airport Operator Badging Requirements

In addition to the TSA’s security threat assessments and criminal history records checks, airports may also have their own badging requirements. These badges, often referred to as airport security identification display areas (SIDA) badges, grant access to secure areas of the airport.

The process for obtaining a SIDA badge typically involves a thorough background check and fingerprinting. Having a felony conviction may make it more challenging to obtain the necessary clearance for an airport operator badge.

Interesting fact: The badging requirements for airport jobs not only focus on criminal history but also consider factors such as citizenship, immigration status, and employment eligibility.

Airport Positions Open to Felons

Having a felony conviction on your record can make finding employment challenging, but it doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dreams of working at the airport. Many airports have positions that are open to individuals with a criminal background, providing them with an opportunity to rebuild their lives and contribute to the aviation industry.

Ramp Agent

One of the positions that felons can consider is that of a ramp agent. Ramp agents are responsible for loading and unloading luggage, operating ground support equipment, and assisting with aircraft maintenance. This role requires physical stamina and attention to detail.

While each airport has its own hiring policies, some may be willing to overlook certain felony convictions depending on the nature of the offense and the time that has passed since the conviction.

Grounds Crew and Landscaping

Another option for felons looking for work at the airport is joining the grounds crew or landscaping team. These positions involve maintaining the airport’s outdoor areas, including mowing lawns, trimming hedges, and planting flowers.

While the qualifications may vary, having a criminal record may not necessarily disqualify individuals from these roles. Some airports prioritize skills and work ethic over past convictions.

Custodial Services

Custodial services play a vital role in maintaining cleanliness and sanitation at airports. As a result, there may be opportunities for felons to work in this field. Whether it’s cleaning restrooms, emptying trash bins, or ensuring the terminal remains tidy, custodial services offer a chance for individuals to contribute to the smooth operation of the airport.

Some airports may have specific guidelines regarding background checks, but it is worth exploring these positions as they can provide valuable employment opportunities.

Food and Retail

Working in the food and retail industry at the airport is another avenue that felons can explore. From restaurants and coffee shops to retail stores and duty-free outlets, airports offer a variety of opportunities in these sectors.

While certain positions may have more stringent hiring requirements, some employers may be willing to give individuals with a criminal record a chance to prove themselves. It’s important to note that each establishment within the airport may have its own hiring policies, so it’s worth reaching out to individual businesses to inquire about their stance on hiring felons.

Administrative and Office Positions

Not all airport jobs involve physical labor. There are also administrative and office positions that felons can consider. These roles may include tasks such as data entry, customer service, and administrative support.

While these positions may require a certain level of education or experience, having a felony conviction does not necessarily disqualify individuals from these types of jobs. It’s advisable to highlight relevant skills and qualifications during the application and interview process to increase the chances of securing a position.

It’s important to note that each airport and employer may have different policies regarding the employment of individuals with felony convictions. Therefore, it is essential for applicants to research specific airport guidelines and communicate openly and honestly about their background during the application process.

Additionally, organizations such as the National Employment Law Project (NELP) provide resources and guidance for individuals with criminal records seeking employment opportunities.

Difficult Airport Jobs for Felons to Obtain

While it is possible for individuals with a felony conviction to work at an airport, there are certain jobs that may be more difficult to obtain. These jobs often require a high level of security clearance and background checks, which can pose challenges for individuals with a criminal record.

Here are a few examples of airport jobs that may be more difficult for felons to secure:

Aircraft Mechanic

Working as an aircraft mechanic requires specialized skills and knowledge. This job involves inspecting, repairing, and maintaining aircraft to ensure their safety and functionality. Due to the sensitive nature of the work and the importance of aviation security, employers often conduct thorough background checks on potential employees.

This can make it challenging for individuals with a felony conviction to secure a job in this field.

Air Traffic Controller

Air traffic controllers play a crucial role in ensuring the safe and efficient movement of aircraft. They are responsible for managing air traffic flow, communicating with pilots, and making critical decisions to maintain aviation safety.

This job requires a high level of concentration, quick decision-making skills, and the ability to handle stressful situations. Due to the importance of this role, employers typically have strict requirements and conduct extensive background checks, making it challenging for felons to pursue a career as an air traffic controller.


Becoming a pilot is a dream career for many. Pilots are responsible for operating and navigating aircraft, ensuring the safety of passengers and cargo. This profession requires extensive training, both in the classroom and in flight, as well as obtaining various certifications and licenses.

Airlines and aviation authorities have strict regulations in place to ensure the safety and security of air travel. As a result, felons may face difficulties in obtaining the necessary certifications and passing the required background checks to work as a pilot.

TSA Screener

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners are responsible for screening passengers, baggage, and cargo to prevent prohibited items from being brought onto airplanes. This job requires attention to detail, the ability to follow strict protocols, and the capability to handle potentially stressful situations.

Due to the sensitive nature of the work and the need for security clearances, individuals with a felony conviction may face challenges in securing employment as a TSA screener.

It is important to note that each airport and employer may have different policies and regulations regarding the employment of individuals with felony convictions. Some airports may have programs in place to help felons reintegrate into the workforce and provide opportunities for employment.

It is recommended that individuals with felony convictions research the specific requirements and policies of the airport they are interested in working at.

Improving Your Chances of Getting Hired

If you have a felony conviction and are looking for employment at an airport, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of getting hired. While having a criminal record can present challenges, it doesn’t mean that finding employment at an airport is impossible.

By following these strategies, you can increase your prospects and potentially secure a job in the aviation industry.

Be Upfront in the Hiring Process

When applying for a job at an airport, it’s important to be honest and upfront about your criminal record during the hiring process. Trying to hide or lie about your conviction can severely damage your chances of getting hired, as most employers conduct background checks.

Instead, address your past openly and explain how you have changed and grown since then. Emphasize your commitment to personal growth and highlight any rehabilitation programs or counseling you have completed.

Get Your Record Expunged if Possible

One way to improve your chances of getting hired with a felony conviction is to explore the possibility of expungement. Expungement is the legal process of sealing or erasing criminal records. While the eligibility and requirements for expungement vary by jurisdiction, it is worth investigating the options available to you.

Having your record expunged can demonstrate to potential employers that you have taken steps to rebuild your life and are committed to staying on the right path.

Highlight Your Skills and Abilities

When applying for jobs at airports, it’s essential to focus on your skills and abilities that are relevant to the position. Emphasize your strengths and qualifications, showcasing what you can bring to the job.

Highlight any relevant experience, certifications, or training you have obtained, as this can help offset any concerns employers may have about your criminal record. By demonstrating your capabilities and dedication to the job, you can make a compelling case for why you should be considered for employment.

Apply to Felon-Friendly Employers

While not all employers at airports may be open to hiring individuals with felony convictions, some organizations are more willing to give second chances. Research and identify felon-friendly employers or companies that have established programs to support individuals with criminal records.

These employers may have specific initiatives in place to provide opportunities for those seeking employment after a conviction. By targeting these organizations, you can increase your chances of receiving a positive response to your application.

Consider Volunteering

Volunteering can be an excellent way to gain experience, build a positive reputation, and demonstrate your commitment to giving back to the community. Look for volunteering opportunities within the aviation industry or at airports.

By dedicating your time and skills to a cause, you can showcase your work ethic, reliability, and willingness to contribute. Additionally, volunteering can provide valuable networking opportunities, which may lead to job prospects or recommendations from individuals who can vouch for your character and potential as an employee.

Airport Jobs by Felony Class

When it comes to finding employment with a felony conviction, it can be challenging to know which industries are open to hiring individuals with a criminal record. One such industry that people often inquire about is the aviation industry, specifically airport jobs.

While having a felony conviction may limit your options, it doesn’t automatically disqualify you from working at an airport. The specific type of felony you have been convicted of can play a significant role in determining your eligibility for certain positions.

Non-Violent Felonies

Non-violent felony convictions, such as white-collar crimes or property offenses, may offer more opportunities for employment at an airport. These types of felonies typically do not involve violence or pose a direct threat to public safety.

Jobs in areas such as administration, customer service, or maintenance may be more accessible to individuals with non-violent felony convictions. However, it’s important to note that each airport and employer may have their own policies and guidelines regarding hiring individuals with a criminal record.

Violent Felonies

Violent felony convictions, such as assault, robbery, or murder, can significantly impact your chances of securing a job at an airport. These types of convictions involve acts of violence and may raise concerns about potential risks to passengers and employees.

Security-related positions, such as TSA agents or law enforcement officers, typically require a clean criminal record. However, it’s crucial to check with the specific airport and employer to understand their policies regarding individuals with violent felony convictions.

Drug Felonies

Drug-related felony convictions, such as possession or distribution of illegal substances, can also present challenges when seeking employment at an airport. Given the strict regulations and safety protocols in place, airports prioritize maintaining a drug-free environment.

Positions that involve handling sensitive materials or require security clearances may have more stringent requirements regarding drug-related convictions. However, some airports may consider individuals with past drug convictions for non-security-sensitive roles, such as custodial or maintenance positions.

Felonies Involving Fraud or Theft

Felonies involving fraud or theft, such as embezzlement or identity theft, can raise concerns about an individual’s trustworthiness and moral character. These types of convictions may limit your chances of working in certain areas of an airport, particularly those involving financial transactions or handling valuable assets.

However, airports may have positions available that do not involve direct access to financial resources or valuable items. It’s important to research and inquire about specific job requirements and qualifications to determine if your felony conviction would disqualify you from any opportunities.

Remember, the information provided here is a general guide, and individual airports and employers may have their own policies and criteria when it comes to hiring individuals with felony convictions. If you are interested in pursuing a job at the airport with a felony conviction, it’s essential to reach out to the specific airport’s human resources department or consult with legal counsel to understand your options and any potential legal restrictions.


As you can see, working at an airport with a felony is possible depending on your specific conviction and the position you apply for. While high-level security jobs are very difficult for felons to get, there are still opportunities in ground services, retail, food services and administration.

Being transparent, getting your record cleared, and highlighting your qualifications can go a long way during the application process. With determination and the right approach, you can successfully land an airport job despite your criminal history.

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