Trade Schools for Felons

Looking for trade schools for felons? By definition, the trade school (which is often known as vocational school) is a place where the students get to learn skills needed for a specific job. The school usually doesn’t discriminate between people, including those who have spent their time in prison or have a probation or criminal history. After all, education should be available for everyone, regardless their race, status, gender, etc. Hence, the school provides a wide range of career possibilities, even for ex-felons.

That said, even though the educational programs and trainings offered in trade schools are typically available for felons as well, there’s still a possibility that you will face some career barriers after you graduate from the trade school.


Vocational Training for Felons

However, before you begin a training or educational program, you need to thoroughly research the policies for hiring and inquire about any potential barriers that exist to certification or licensing in the state where you plan to work.  This is extremely important because if you go to a trade school for a particular skill and get certified or get a degree, that doesn’t necessarily make you employable if your state prevents you from working in the industry due to your conviction.

What does this means? This means that once you’ve had a criminal history, your career option is limited. In some states, you will not be able to pursue a particular career even after you have the certification from the vocational school because of your criminal track record. For example, although you might be able to get certification in the justice field, you might find it impossible to find an employer that is willing to hire you.

In short, there are three basic classifications when it comes to education for felons. This include:

  1. Education programs that doesn’t need a background check
  2. Available education program where felon can enter, but the employment often requires background check
  3. Unavailable education program where felon cannot enter.

Therefore, the most important thing to consider before you apply to the vocational schools for felons is the career path you want to take.

List of Trade Schools for Felon

In the United States, a variety of educational institutions and training centers offer specialized trade courses for individuals with felony backgrounds. Your pathway to these opportunities lies in meeting their specific eligibility requirements and completing all necessary steps. Below, we’ll outline some of the leading trade schools known for welcoming individuals with felony records.

Highlands College of Montana Tech

Highlands College of Montana Tech stands out as a top choice for felons seeking trade education opportunities. With a commitment to empowering individuals with prior convictions, Highlands College provides specialized trade courses tailored to their needs. The institution aims to support felons in their journey towards personal and professional growth, offering them a chance to transform their lives for the better.

With in-state tuition fees starting as low as $2624, felons interested in attending one of the most reputable trade schools in the USA may need to budget a bit more for additional expenses such as book fees and campus expenses, bringing the total to around $8500 for obtaining a certificate.

The certificate of completion holds significant value, enabling felons to secure employment swiftly upon graduation. For those facing financial constraints, education loans are available with an interest rate as low as 7.6% per annum, offering assistance to pursue their education.

Stephens College

Another trade school for felons on our list is a non-profit educational institution based in Columbia. This institution welcomes individuals, regardless of their past serious crimes. Hence, providing them with an opportunity to improve themselves and build a better life. While the fee structure may be higher, the institution offers loan options to assist with financing.

The in-state tuition amount is approximately $23,870, with overall expenses totaling around $35,000. Loans are available at an interest rate of 4.7% per annum, making education more accessible. This renowned institution prioritizes online education. This will not only reduces hostel and travel expenses but also offers flexibility for students, including felons, to pursue their studies.

Ottawa University

If you’re a felon looking to pursue a career in trade, Ottawa University offers an excellent opportunity. The university’s online trade programs provide felons with the chance to attain relevant qualifications for employment and a brighter future.

Students are charged a reasonable fee of $12,000, which covers all major expenses, including campus charges. Felons can attend the online trade programs and earn a certificate of completion. The interest rate for educational loans is approximately 6.3%, making financing more accessible for those in need.

Dakota State University

Don’t let past mistakes hinder your future. Dakota University welcomes felons to its trade programs, offering a chance to pursue a career in the field of trade. Among the various trade schools for felons, Dakota University stands out on our list.

With fees as low as $20,000, covering Books and Supplies, On Campus Room and Board, and On-Campus Other Expenses, the university ensures accessibility. Loans are available at an interest rate of 5.8% per annum, providing financial assistance to those in need.

Your past crime doesn’t prevent you from gaining admission to the trade programs at Dakota University. The certificate obtained is recognized by renowned companies, offering employment opportunities regardless of your felon status.

Miami University – Hamilton

Miami University, a public educational institution situated in Hamilton, Ohio, provides various trade courses and programs for all students, including felons. The university offers loan schemes with a low interest rate of 4%, making education more affordable.

Overall education expenses, covering Books and Supplies, On-Campus Room and Board, and On-Campus Other Expenses, amount to approximately $20,000. This accessible pricing ensures that individuals, regardless of their background, have the opportunity to pursue their education and build a brighter future at Miami University.

Miami University provides felons who have committed criminal offenses under US federal and state laws with an opportunity to improve and rebuild their lives. While many institutions may prohibit felons registered for sexual offenses from admission, Miami University takes a different approach. The university welcomes these students and offers them a chance for betterment. It means they recognize the importance of rehabilitation and second chances in facilitating positive change.

Holmes Community College

Holmes Community College stands out as one of the premier trade schools for felons. This offers essential skills and hands-on knowledge to facilitate employment opportunities. Regardless of the skilled trade felons wish to pursue, they can rely on this public educational institution for support.

The fee structure for trade courses at the institution is approximately $32,000, which is considered reasonable. Additionally, various loan options are available to assist felons in need of financial support. The faculty and staff at this renowned institution are dedicated to the welfare of felons, providing them with guidance and resources to succeed in their chosen career paths.

Minnesota State Community and Technical College

For felons aspiring to careers in manufacturing, construction, digital marketing, and other hands-on fields, Minnesota State Community and Technical College stands out as one of the best trade schools. The college offers degree and certificate programs that equip students with both knowledge and practical skills.

To assist felons in financing their education, the school provides scholarships and loan schemes with a low interest rate of 5.7% per annum. Students can learn valuable hands-on skills such as welding, carpeting, and iron smithing, earning a certificate of completion upon successful program completion. This enables felons to pursue rewarding careers and build a brighter future for themselves.


Trade schools for felon, also known as vocational or technical schools, are educational institutions that provide specialized training. They cater to both secondary and post-secondary education need. The main focus being to equip individuals with the vocational or technical skills necessary for specific job roles.

In the United States, federal laws ensure that everyone, including individuals with prior criminal convictions, has the right to education and personal liberty. This means that even those with felony backgrounds have the opportunity to enroll in various educational programs, including those provided by trade schools. No one should let their past hold them back from pursuing an education and working towards a brighter future.

In what department can a felon find a good career?

There are many community colleges that accept felons, but it is up to the felon to find the right one that offers a good chance of employment. Some of the programs often chosen by the felons are finance, economics and other business related programs.

You may also want to consider getting certification in information technology field. For example, web developer, systems technicians, computer support, etc. Math and social science programs are also open for felons. Last but not least, agricultural, language, and arts related fields are also popular choice for ex-felons. Note that there’s still many fields that are open for felons. The key here is to find a job where they don’t necessarily check your background.

Find department you like

Now choosing the right field might sound easy, but it may be harder that it looks. One thing I notice over the years is that people do good job when they like what they do. So I suggest that you try to look into yourself and try to find which programs that suit your preferences and also your ability.

It can also help to do a little research before you make your decision on the training or certification program you’ll be entering. Try to ask around (or even better, contact a company) and ask them if they would hire an ex-felon for the job. Alternatively you can also ask the staff in the trade schools and see their recommendation.

Reconsider your plan to apply some programs

As a general rule of thumb (which doesn’t always true, actually), you may want to reconsider your plan in applying for some programs in the trade school. These programs include educational-related programs, law enforcement programs, and health science programs.  As we’ve said earlier, the rule doesn’t always apply so there may be some exceptions. For example, some health science employers may overlook your criminal history after a specific time has passed.

We’ve also mentioned that there may be some career that doesn’t do a background check initially. But, they will do so during the certification process, right? Well, some of the career options that may include such system are business accounting, pharmacy technician, book keeping, and other social work.

Are there other options if I need a job immediately?

If you somehow cannot afford to attend a vocational school for felons, you still have other options. One that may help you get into a career fast is to get into an apprenticeship program. It appears that job opportunities in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) is the most popular choice of a career. Aside of the HVAC-related career, you may also get apprenticeship in fire service, handling hazardous material, and plumbing.

So, are you ready to choose your trade schools for felons?