How Long Does an Employment Background Check Take? Full List of Jobs

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Background Checks | September 13, 2022

How long does an employment background check take a man wearing a blue shirt and black tie wonders while looking at his watch and a calendar flips on the left, on the right an office structure looms as he thinks how long does an employer background check take to complete a level 2 pre employment background check being completed by a large blue magnifying glass floating above him.

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When entering job market for the first time in a while, a common question is how long does an employment background check take?

The fact is that the length of time required for a background check can vary, based on a number of different factors, including the company and the types of background checks being run.

For example, the type of job or position can dictate how long does a background check take…and a person’s record can also play a role. Other common situations that impact how long does a background check take for employment include:

  • Whether the job is regulated by federal or state agencies (like for positions that involve working with children, such as a child abuse background check, nanny background check, or daycare background check)
  • Whether the employment includes access to sensitive information (like with a government-related position)
  • Whether the job involves specific driving tasks, which would require an inquiry into a personal driving record and MVR report
  • If the job involves a high level of responsibility (like an executive level position or work in the financial sector)

Basically, the level of trust connected to the position has a whole lot to do with how long the background check can take because it impacts the type of check that needs to be performed (namely a level 1 background check or a level 2 background check that uses fingerprints, or even a level 3 background check or higher).

Fortunately, with the continuous digitization of records taking place, these checks are faster than ever and will usually take less than a week for most jobs, depending on the job description.

That’s why it is handy to have a list of jobs (and industries) like the large one below, that outline how long the average employment background check takes.

Related Reading: How long does a fingerprint background check take?

How Long Does An Employment Background Check Usually Take

How long an employment background check takes will depend entirely on the job that is being applied for. Obviously, certain jobs will require more intensive background checks, especially if these jobs deal with sensitive information or sensitive groups.

On average, an employment background check will take less than a week to complete, around 1-3 days in most cases. This will depend on a large variety of factors but for jobs that do not run any special checks because of the industry or if the job deals with sensitive information then less than a week should be expected.

Other more intensive employment background checks for industries like nursing or child care,1 the background check will take much longer.

Child care .gov screenshot with yellow arrow pointing to the federal background hceck requirements for child care providers when asking how long does it take for an employment background check for child care, and how long does an employment background check usually take for child care.

Although most databases are online, sometimes various checks must be performed by hand or may require the individual conducting the check to contact someone else directly.

For example, some jobs will require references and will need to talk to these individuals directly. In this case, the length of the background check is at the mercy of the individual, employer, or university, that the individual needs to contact.

Still, it is rare for a background check to take more than two weeks, even in situations where fingerprints are required. Although there are a few exceptions such as working for the FBI,2 background checks are almost always completed in less than two weeks.

Related Reading: How long does an FBI background check take?

How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take To Complete

The level of the background check will have the biggest impact when it comes to “how long does an employment background check take? The most common kind of background check is what is often referred to as a Level 1 background check.

This will include all the information that many will view as standard on a background check. Level 1 checks will be what individuals can expect for retail jobs, food-industry jobs, general office jobs such as those in advertising, and other service industry jobs. The following checks can be expected:

  • Identity Verification
  • Name-based criminal history search

Other checks can be run as part of a level 1 check, such as employment or education verification as well.

Beyond a level 1 check, the types of checks being run, and subsequently how long the background check takes, will depend on the job. Different industries have different background check standards and in some cases, they will even have legal requirements when it comes to what checks they must perform.

There are a few common checks that will affect the timeline for a background check:

  • Fingerprint-based criminal history check (Usually adds a week to the check, as fingerprints must be gathered and sent to the proper agency)
  • Education, Employment, Reference Checks (Can add a few extra days as many times these institutions or employers must be contacted directly, so the background check is at the mercy of their response.)
  • Special Databases (Certain industries will require checks of special databases, in this case, the check is at the mercy of the government branch, etc. that maintains the database. This can add a few extra days but often will not add any additional time.)

As mentioned, the biggest factor when it comes to “how long does an employment background check take?” is the job position. Certain jobs will simply require more checks for various reasons, resulting in the check taking longer.

Beyond this, the employer will also play a part as certain companies may have established background check practices for all employees. In some fields, the employer will also make a difference because the individual is dealing with sensitive information.

For example, an engineer working for a private company will have different background checks than an individual doing the same job for a company that works with the U.S. military.

How Long Does It Take For An Employment Background Check By Job and Profession

The typical minimums are given in the table below.

ProfessionBackground Check TimeType of CheckFingerprintsCredit CheckTax RecordsAdditional Records
Retail Rep.1-3 daysLevel 1NoNoNoTypically, a SSN is used to verify personal information and local criminal record
Service Rep.1-3 daysLevel 1NoNoNoTypically, a SSN is used to verify personal information and local criminal record
Real Estate Background Check3 – 6 weeksLevel 2YesNoNoFingerprints used to run a state criminal history check and FBI criminal history check
Non-Profit Background Check3 – 10 daysLevel 2YesNoNoFingerprints used to run a state criminal history check and FBI criminal history check
Nanny Background Check3 – 10 daysLevel 1NoNoNoVaries widely but will likely include a name-based criminal check at a minimum.
Nursing Background Check3 – 10 daysLevel 2YesNoNoSpecific checks will vary by state law. FACIS checks, mental health checks and other healthcare databases are also checked.
Daycare Background Check 3 – 10 daysLevel 2YesNoNoNumerous specific checks required by federal and state law.
Mining1 – 3 daysLevel 1NoNoNoExecutive positions in the mining industry will be subject to additional checks.
Engineers1 – 3 daysLevel 1NoNoNoEducation Verification is standard as well as verification of licenses for certain positions
Architects1 – 3 daysLevel 1NoNoNoChecks will depend on employer, government employers will likely require fingerprint-based background checks.
Advertising1 – 3 daysLevel 1NoNoNoTypically, a SSN is used to verify personal information and local criminal record
Trucking1 – 3 daysLevel 1NoNoNoDOT records will be required, criminal checks are usually name-based.
Construction1 – 3 daysLevel 1NoNoNoCertain positions will require DOT Records or checks of required licenses.
Finance1 – 3 daysLevel 1NoYesYesChecks for financial crimes such as fraud are checked as well as any bankruptcies on record. tte
Tech Industry1 – 3 daysLevel 1NoNoNoEducation checks and name-based criminal checks are fairly standard.
Private Security1 – 3 daysLevel 1NoNoNoNo federal standards for private security, and state laws vary.
Government Background Check 1 – 10 daysLevel 1 – Level 4YesYesYesChecks will depend on the level of security clearance.
FBI2 months or moreLevel 4YesYesYesOne of the most intensive checks,3 requires Standard Form 864 which goes back 10 years. Lots of unique checks as well as 2 polygraph tests.
Local Law Enforcement1 month or moreLevel 4YesYesYesAll permanent records are checked, as well as interviews with family members, drug tests and more.
Military1 month or moreLevel 3 to Level 4YesYesYesAll permanent records are checked, and additional checks are required for positions with security clearance.
Executive1- 10 daysLevel 1NoYesYesExtensive checks are rare, most often financial records will be checked to ensure there is no history of fraud.
TSA3 – 10 daysLevel 2YesNoNoCriminal background checks are done to check for disqualifying offenses.5

How Long Does It Take For An Employment Background Check in Each State?

How long does an employment background check take? Each state has its own stipulations and rules concerning when and how long a background check can take.

Whether or not what state the check is being performed in makes a difference depends on two factors:

  • Does the employer require an official state background check?
  • And does the state background check require fingerprints?

Basically, employers who are conducting background checks on their employees have 3 options to complete the background checks.

Option 1: Manual Search

The first is to DIY the check, which means checking various public databases, such as court records, and finding any relevant information themselves. This method is fairly time-consuming and requires a huge amount of effort to remain compliant with federal Fair Credit Reporting Act rules.

Option 2: State Issued Search

The second option is to perform background checks using the background check services offered by state or local law enforcement. In this case, the applicant’s information will be given to the agency in charge of performing background checks and the state or local police will perform the check and return the results.

Official state background check practices vary from state to state, however, it is fairly common for the state police to require fingerprints to perform the background check. This is done so they can perform a more accurate and comprehensive background check using both state fingerprint databases and the fingerprint database that is maintained by the FBI.

Since fingerprints have to be taken, sent to the proper agency, and checked against multiple databases, the process can take longer than a name-based check.

Option 3: Approved Background Check Agency Contract

The final and most common option used by employers to perform background checks is to work with a private background check company (some offer 7 day free trial background checks). This option is the most common for most employers because it is generally the cheapest and the fastest option, making it a must in certain industries that deal with high turnover rates for their employees.

FBI jobs screenshot with yellow arrow pointing to apply for jobs which can explain how long does an employment background check take to complete.

In this case, the employee’s information is given to the background check company which performs checks of numerous online databases. Since this check is done using online information, it can be completed in less than 24 hours and is almost always completed in less than 3 days.

With all that being said, although the state can impact the answer to “how long does an employment background check take?” it usually is not an issue. As long as the employer is not requiring an official state background check, which is required for certain industries, then the timeline of the background check should not be affected by the state.

Below is the average background check time for each state.

State Average Background Check Time
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Alabama1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Alaska1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Arizona1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in California1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Colorado1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Connecticut1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Delaware1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Florida1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Georgia1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Hawaii1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Idaho1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Illinois1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Indiana1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Iowa1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Kansas1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Kentucky1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Louisiana1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Maine1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Maryland1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Massachusetts1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Michigan1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Minnesota1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Missouri1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Mississippi1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Montana1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Nebraska1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Nevada1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in New Hampshire1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in New Jersey1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in New Mexico1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in New York1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in North Carolina1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in North Dakota1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Ohio1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Oklahoma1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Oregon1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Pennsylvania1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Rhode Island1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in South Carolina1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in South Dakota1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Tennessee1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Texas1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Utah1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Vermont1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Virginia1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Washington1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in West Virginia1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Wisconsin1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.
How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take in Wyoming1-5 days, 5 – 10 days if fingerprints are required.

Getting a background check performed can be a scary process, especially for individuals who don’t know what to expect. Luckily, most background checks are fairly simple allowing for a simple answer to the question: How long does an employment background check take?

Frequently Asked Questions About How Long Does an Employment Background Check Take

How Long does a Pre Employment Background Check Take?

Individuals can expect most pre-employment background checks to take 1 – 3 days to complete. However this will be longer for certain industries.

How Long does an Employer Background Check Take?

An employer background check will take just a few days to complete, assuming a level 1 background check is being performed.

How Long does Pre Employment Background Check Take?

Pre-employment background checks will vary widely when it comes to how long they will take to complete. Entry-level retail jobs can take just a few days to complete, on the other hand, law enforcement background checks can take weeks as additional information is checked with a more difficult timeline.

How Long does it Take for an Employment Background Check?

Employment background length tends to be related to the amount of sensitive information the individual will have access to. High-level finance jobs will be far more intensive, and therefore longer background checks than a background check for a cashier.

How Long does an Employment Background Check Take?

Most jobs that require background checks will take a week at most. Since most employers work with private background check companies, all of the checks are performed online and therefore can be done very quickly.

Background Check for Employment, How Long does it Take?

A background check for employment will take 2 weeks at max, besides those with intensive searches such as jobs with the FBI, or various law enforcement agencies. However, it is rare for a background check to take more than a week for most jobs.

How Long do Background Checks Take for Employment?

Employment background checks are usually performed by a third-party company with access to dozens of online databases with public information. Since they are often able to search all of these databases at the same time, the searches are both through and completed in just a few days.

How Long does TSA Employment Background Check Take?

TSA employment background checks are only slightly more intensive than typical background checks. TSA background checks involve a fingerprint-based check where a list of disqualifying felony offenses is checked in the state, local, and federal databases. All of these databases are online so checks take less than two weeks.

How Long does a 7-Year Background Check Take?

A 7-year background check should take less than two weeks to complete. If the background check is only a name-based check, as opposed to fingerprint-based, it will be completed in just 1 -3 days.

How Long does a Background Check Take for a Job?

How long a background check takes for a job depends on the job, industry, and a number of other factors. Usually, background checks take 1 – 3 days and up to two weeks in certain cases, but rarely longer.

How Long does a Background Check Take for a Government Job?

How long a background check takes for a government job will depend on the security clearance that comes with the job. The higher the clearance, the longer the background check will take. Jobs with low-level or no clearance usually take less than 10 days.

How Long does it Take for a Background Check to Come Back for a Job for Amazon?

Amazon generally performs name-based background checks so the check should be completed in 1 – 3 days in most cases.

Does a Background Check Mean You're Getting Hired?

Most companies will not bother performing a background check unless they plan on hiring the individual.

How do I Know If My Background Check Is Complete?

Companies are generally required to contact individuals after a background check, regardless of the outcome. If passed, they will contact the individual to offer a job, if failed they will need to contact them to notify the individual that they did not pass the background check.

Will Background Check Show All My Jobs?

Previous jobs should only show up on a background check if the applicant includes them on the application. There is no generalized employment database that can be checked.

What is Looked At in an Employment Background Check?

Employment background checks exist to ensure the applicant is trustworthy. Checks usually include criminal history information and the verification of anything included on the application.

What Causes a Red Flag on a Background Check?

Red flags on background checks will vary by company but in general, how long does a felony stay on your record (can be forever) and major convictions and anything dishonest on the application will be red flags.

How do Employers Verify Your Work History?

Employers verify an individual’s work history by contacting the employer listed on the applicant’s application.


References

1Background Checks: What You Need To Know. (2022). Childcare.gov. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from <https://childcare.gov/consumer-education/background-checks-what-you-need-to-know>

2FBI Jobs. (2022). Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from <https://www.fbijobs.gov/>

3Background Checks for New Applicants. (2022). FBI.gov. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from <https://www.fbi.gov/audio-repository/news-podcasts-inside-background-checks-for-new-applicants.mp3/view>

4Questionnaire for National Security. (2016). Standard Form 86. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from <https://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf86.pdf>

5A Follow-up Review of the Transportation Security Officer Background Check Process. (2022). DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Office of Inspector General. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from <https://www.oig.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/assets/Mgmt/OIG_07-67_Aug07.pdf>

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