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Can a Certificate of Qualification for Employment help me?

A CQE or “Certificate of Qualification for Employment” can help someone with a criminal record by removing automatic or mandatory restrictions on the types of jobs or professional licenses they can have. Persons with a criminal record often experience these automatic or mandatory restrictions (also known as collateral sanctions/consequences) when they are denied a job or a professional license due to their criminal record. A CQE does not guarantee a job or license. A CQE does not seal or erase the criminal record, so employers can still see a person’s conviction history. A CQE requires employers and state licensing boards to consider each applicant’s record individually instead of denying an applicant based on a blanket restriction. A CQE also benefits employers who hire someone with a CQE by providing immunity from negligent-hiring lawsuits if the person with the CQE re-offends.

Applicants for a CQE must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • If convicted of a misdemeanor, it must be more than 6 months since the individual has been released from all court supervision, including paying all fines and fees.
  • If convicted of a felony, it must be more than 1 year since the individual has been released from all court supervision, including paying all fines and fees.

There are no limits on the number or type of convictions a person can have in order to be eligible, but some limitations exist for people convicted of violent crimes. Also, CQEs are not available for federal or out-of-state convictions or collateral sanctions.

Recent changes to Ohio law have made the process of applying for a CQE slightly easier. Now applicants only need to provide a general statement about how the CQE will assist them. Also, out-of-state residents with an Ohio criminal record can apply for a CQE in any Ohio county where they have a conviction. Current Ohio residents should still apply in the county where they live, even if their conviction is in a different Ohio county.

Lastly, the new law directs the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) to make rules allowing CQE applications sooner than 6 months for misdemeanors and 1 year for felonies. ODRC must also keep track of CQEs granted and revoked, as well as employers where
people with CQEs have been hired.

In order to apply for a CQE a person can complete an application online at or call Legal Aid at 1.888.817.3777 to apply for help.

This article was written by Andrew Torres and appeared in The Alert: Volume 34, Issue 1. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!

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