Some employers are hesitant to hire people who have criminal convictions, no matter how light or serious the convictions seem to be. That is one reason quite a few people with convictions start their own businesses, from relatively simple lawn care businesses to more elaborate tech startups.

If you are in this boat or are currently facing criminal charges, working as a real estate agent might seem appealing. After all, it is a common yet fairly lucrative job, and you can be your own boss. However, be aware that you could be denied a real estate license due to a criminal conviction.

The prohibition is not automatic

One good thing to know is that you do not automatically lose your license or become ineligible for one because of a conviction. What matters is how substantially the offense you received a conviction for relates to the job of an agent or broker. Convictions for a simple, isolated fight or even a misdemeanor DUI might not matter all that much as far as your license is concerned, even though real estate agents drive a lot. That said, if the DUI occurred while on the job, that could be different (so could something such as vehicular manslaughter). However, a DUI that happened on the way home after dinner with a friend might have low-impact stakes for the license.

What could be problematic are convictions for tax evasion, embezzlement or fraud. They can be issues because real estate agents and brokers must be trustworthy, and a licensing board may believe those convicted of a financial crime will put their own financial interests above doing the “right” thing for their clients. Also, agents and brokers frequently handle checks from clients. A conviction for serious violence can also be an issue because agents are alone with clients a lot.

It also matters how long ago the conviction was and what the applicant has done with his or her life since then. For example, community involvement is helpful.