When looking for a job with a felony, one of the most commonly suggested options is to get a truck driving job. However, there is a similar job opportunity with its own set of perks that is not often considered: driving a towing truck.
Here are the pros and cons of pursuing this job, as well as certifications and other requirements you may need to meet get hired.
Pros of Becoming a Tow Truck Driver with a Felony
1. Ample jobs available: towing truck companies are very busy, and are always looking for new drivers. This is especially true in large cities, where there are many towing truck companies, and no shortage of cars being towed day and night.
2. The job requires ability to deal with stress and conflict: given your experience in jail, you may be perfectly qualified to deal with the negative emotions and conflict that often arise when you are towing someone’s car. Employers are looking for candidates who will not be afraid or back down from an angry driver whose car is being towed, but who can also handle themselves, be polite, and will not escalate the situation.
If you feel that you have the personality to handle this kind of stress, you can use your experience in jail as a positive and describe the ways in which your experience will actually help you be better at this job than any other candidate.
3. Commissions: this is one of the BIGGEST perks of being a tow truck driver. Many towing truck drivers get up to 40% bonuses to their salaries in commissions. This varies greatly depending on the employer, so you should inquire about commissions during your interview. In general, you get paid based on the number of cars you bring in. Some night drivers can earn as much as $700/night depending on the area they are working in.
4. Potential for High Pay: while the average salary of a tow truck driver is about $25K or $12.80/hr, there is also room for growth. Once you get more experience, you can work for companies such as AAA, which pay an average of $28-33K. Other companies, such as large auto mechanic shops may pay as much as $55K. Tow truck drivers can have particularly high salaries if they are trained in disaster relief.
5. Excitement/Adrenalin Rush: while about 90% of the job will be very boring and routine, and there will be a lot of waiting for a call to come in, there is also another 10% of extreme, unusual situations. These may include major car accident scenes, crime scenes, high speed high way calls, towing some very rare, expensive cars, etc.
6. No Prior Experience Required: you will be trained on the job.
7. No Long, Expensive Training or Education Required: all you will need is a Class A CDL drivers license.
8. More Freedom Than Other Jobs: as a tow truck driver you will enjoy a lot more freedom to move around and be on your own, compared to jobs in retail, office or factory.
What Does a Tow Truck Driver Do?
In general, a tow truck driver is asked to move cars or larger vehicles from one location to another. Beyond this basic description, the job can vary greatly. If you work for a police department, you may be asked to remove illegaly parked or abandoned vehicles. If you work for an auto mechanic company or a road side company, you may be asked to assist someone with a disabled vehicle and transport them to a repair shop. Private companies, government agencies and condominiums may contract with a towing company to enforce parking laws.
Where Can You Get a Job?
As a tow truck driver you have money options for employment. You can work for government agencies (including police), dealerships, financial companies (repossess cars), auto mechanic shops, AAA and other road side assistance companies, etc. You can also work for a small private towing truck company that will have contracts with different businesses, and you will be asked to tow cars for these businesses. Typically, auto-mechanic shops offer the best pay.
Its important to be aware that different companies offer different payment structures: some pay you a salary only, others offer only hourly pay, others still are only commission based.
Commission jobs typically have high stress and stiff competition from other tow truck drivers, but offer great money making opportunities, if you can hassle. Hourly pay jobs will expect you to work very long hours in order to make more money. Salary jobs are the least stressful, but also do not give you a way to make any extra money.
Some companies offer a combination of hourly pay and commission. These are the best jobs, because you have the security of a steady pay check and can also make extra cash if you work extra hard.
What Training Will You Need?
To get a job as a tow truck driver, you will need a Class A CDL driving license. This license allows you to handle and transport loads greater than 10 tons. If you consider a regular truck driving job, you will need the same license (albeit maybe a different class).
You can also go through the only nationally recognized certification course for tow truck drivers: Towing and Recovery Association of America’s (TRAA) Driver Certification Program. However, because there is such high demand for tow truck drivers this is not necessary to get a job.
Barriers to Entry If You Have a Felony
In some states, if you are applying for a CDL license with a felony, your application may be turned down if you have a conviction for assault (other crimes against people), theft, possession, or interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle. Other convictions that will prevent you from obtaining this license are: vehicular manslaughter, trafficking or distribution of controlled substances, materials, or weapons, bribery, extortion, arson, treason, kidnapping.
Make sure to find out what the laws in your area are.
Some tow truck companies may not hire someone with a felony if they will need you to handle cash and will decide that you are not trustworthy to do that.
Cons to Working as Tow Truck Driver
1. Long Hours: many companies will require you to work longer than 8 hours, up to 12 hours is standard.
2. Very Tough Schedule: as a tow truck driver you will be on call 24/7, and will need to arrive on site at any time of day. Often, you will be asked to work on weekends, at night, or very early in the morning. This may be a tough job if you have time constraints, family obligations, etc.
3. No Overtime Pay: while this varies depending on the employer, tow truck companies have a bad rep for not providing overtime pay to their drivers.
4. High Stress being a tow truck driver can be very stressful. First, you will often be dealing with very angry vehicle owners, who may threaten you and try to get into a physical fight. While you may know how to handle yourself, you just may want to avoid being involved in these kinds of situations. You may also be asked to tow cars from crime and accident scenes, where you will see blood, dead or severely injured people.
5. Potential to Be Injured:as mentioned earlier, vehicle owners get get very angry a tow truck drivers trying to take their car and may physically hurt them. Experiences tow truck drivers report incidents where they were shot at, hit, punched in the face and lost teeth, slashed with a knife. While cases of such violence are rare, you need to be aware that this is a real risk that comes as part of this job.
6. Stiff Competition From Other Tow Truck Drivers:often tow truck drivers who patrol a specific area, like an apartment complex, have to compete with each other,as each is trying to tow as many cars as they can. This can also end up being a conflict, high stress situation.
Also check out these jobs that you can get as a felon:
– Uber / Lyft driver – with some limitations, felons can get a job driving for ride-sharing giants like Lyft and Uber – here is how.
– Roofing / Construction Jobs – most small construction company owners never run background checks or even ask you if you have a conviction, so it’s very easy to find a well paying roofing and construction jobs.
– Freelancing Jobs for Felons – if you have computer / graphics design / writing / audio or video making skills, you can work online as a freelancer, taking on small contract jobs. These jobs almost never require a background checks, so scoring a job is as easy as if you never had a felony conviction!