In the late 1990s, Ryan served in the U.S. Coast Guard as a narcotics officer and law enforcement trainer. He was also a drug and alcohol counselor at Othello High School, and worked for Benton County Emergency Management as an anti-terrorist/emergency planner and trainer. He worked for Benton/Franklin Juvenile Justice as a probation officer and then became a manager for a private agency and director of a youth ranch for foster kids. Ryan has been a trainer for DSHS and the University of Washington for four years. He and his wife were foster parents for seven years.