Playing career 
Hulton played in the Ontario Hockey League with the Kitchener Rangers from 1986–1988, where he played in 115 games, getting 16 points and 85 penalty minutes. In 4 playoff games with the Rangers, Hulton recorded 1 assist. He then spent the 1988-89 season with the Kingston Raiders, getting 5 points in 13 games. After his junior career, Hulton played for the York Yeomen of the OUAA from 1989–1993, and was named the teams captain for the 1992-93 season.
Coaching career 
Hulton began his coaching career as an assistant coach with the Kingston Voyageurs from 1994–1996, then with the St. Michael's Buzzers for the 1996-1997 season. He spent the 1997-1998 season as an assistant with the North Bay Centennials of the Ontario Hockey League. For the 1998-1999 season, Hulton was hired by the Voyageurs as head coach, however he spent just 25 games with them, posting an 18-6-1 record, good for 1st place in the East Division, before getting hired by the Mississauga IceDogs of the OHL.
The IceDogs were an expansion team that year, and their first head coach Peter Sturgeon was relieved of his duties after a 1-21-1 start. Hulton did not fare much better, as the IceDogs went 3-40-2 with him leading the club, as the team finished the year with a 4-61-3 record, by far the worst in the league.
Hulton returned to Mississauga for the 1999–2000 season, as the team finished in last place again, with a 9-56-1-2 record. Hulton then resigned from his position with the IceDogs and took a new job, becoming the head coach of the Belleville Bulls.
Hulton led the Bulls to a 37-23-5-3 record in 2–2001, as they won the OHL East Division, and met the Kingston Frontenacs in the 1st round of the playoffs. The Bulls easily swept the Frontenacs, however they fell to the Ottawa 67's in the 2nd round, losing in six games. Hulton again led the Bulls to the division championship in 2001-02, as they had a 39-20-4-2 record, and faced the Oshawa Generals in the opening round of the playoffs. The Bulls beat the Generals in 5 games, but again lost in the 2nd round, this time to the Barrie Colts in 6 games. The 2002-2003 Bulls slipped a bit in the standings, finishing with a 33-27-6-2 record, good for 3rd place in the division. The Bulls then lost to the Toronto St. Michael's Majors in 7 games in the 1st round of the playoffs. After the season, Hulton resigned from the Bulls, and was quickly hired by their rivals, the Kingston Frontenacs.
In 2003-2004, Hulton led the Frontenacs to a 30-28-7-3 record, good for 2nd place in the East Division, as Kingston qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2001, and despite losing to the Barrie Colts in 5 games in the 1st round, they won their first playoff game since 2000. The Frontenacs struggled in the 2004-2005 season with a 28-33-4-3 record, and missed the playoffs by 4 points. Hulton helped the team rebound in the 2005-2006 season, surprising everyone with a 37-24-4-3 record, the Fronts best record since the 1999-2000 season and finished in 2nd place in the East Division. Kingston then met the Sudbury Wolves and was heavily favoured to beat them, however the Wolves had something else to say about that, as they took out the Frontenacs in 6 games. The Frontenacs, disappointed with their lack of playoff success, decided to go a different route and relieved Jim Hulton of his duties after the playoffs.
For the 2006-2007 season, Hulton, who interviewed for a few vacant head coaching jobs in the OHL, decided to take the head coaching job at Royal Military College, which is in Kingston, Ontario so he would not have to relocate his family.
On May 1, 2007, Hulton was hired by the Ontario Hockey League Mississauga St. Michael's Majors as assistant coach and assistant general manager. The Majors finished 31-32-5 in his only season with the team, finishing third in the Central Division. Mississauga was swept by the Niagara IceDogs in the first round of the playoffs.
Hulton was hired by the Florida Panthers on July 9, 2008, as an assistant coach of the team.
|Head Coaches of the Mississauga IceDogs
|Head Coaches of the Belleville Bulls
|Head Coaches of the Kingston Frontenacs