What is a Certificate of Qualification for Employment?
This certificate removes legal barriers to employment. The Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE) is for formerly incarcerated individuals who have completed sentencing, parole, and any post release control.
Who is Eligible to Apply for a Certificate of Qualification for Employment?
You are eligible for a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE) if you have been discharged from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (DRC).
What Effect Does a Certificate of Qualification for Employment Have on My Status?
A Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE) can remove legal bars to employment that are created by statutes and regulations. In Ohio, people with criminal records cannot get some occupational licenses and cannot work in facilities that serve "vulnerable populations" (hospitals, schools, daycares, nursing homes, etc.). If you have a CQE and you apply for one of these licenses or jobs, the licensing agency or employer must presume that your convictions by themselves do not make you unfit for the license or the job. In other words, if you have a certificate, you are not disqualified by your record.
The CQE also protects employers who hire you. It reduces the risk of hiring people with criminal records because the CQE removes the employer's liability for negligent hiring. This certificate should make employers more likely to hire you.
When Can I Apply for a Certificate of Qualification for Employment?
If your offense is a felony, you must wait one year after completing your sentence to apply for a CQE.
If your offense is a misdemeanor, you must wait 6 months after completing your sentence.
How Do I Apply for a Certificate of Qualification for Employment?
If you are eligible, here is the general process to apply for a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE):
- Identify all of the state law bars to employment that you want relief from.
- One criminal offense will likely have more than one impact on future employment. To apply for this certificate, you must identify all of the laws that affect you. For example, one Ohio law could prevent you from getting a State-Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA) license. Another law could prevent you from working in a hospital or nursing home. To get that job, you need relief from both laws. So you must list both laws on your application for a certificate.
- To help you, the Ohio Justice & Policy Center and the Ohio Public Defenders have developed an easy to use online tool. To view this online tool, visit the Civil Impacts of Criminal Convictions under Ohio Law's website here: Civil Impacts of Criminal Convictions under Ohio Law.
- Complete the certificate application online.
- You can find the application for a CQE here: Ohio Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE) Online Petition. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (DRC) will check to make sure your application is complete. Then they will notify you by email that you can file your application in the Court of Common Pleas where you live.
- Apply in the court of common pleas in the county where you live.
- There is only one of these courts in each Ohio county. You cannot apply for a certificate in any other court. Each court of common pleas has its own rules, procedures, fees, and forms for CQE applications. The fees can be as much as $300.
- Wait to hear from the court.
- Applying for a CQE can take several months. To grant a CQE, the Court must decide that you have a "substantial need" for a CQE and that granting it will not cause an "unreasonable risk" to the public.
More Information About a Certificate of Qualification for Employment
The Ohio Justice & Policy Center has an online workbook to help you with getting a CQE. To view the workbook online, visit: The Ohio Justice and Policy Center’s CQE Workbook.