If you want to learn how to become a bounty hunter, you should first understand the job duties. With a good understanding of this career, you can decide if it’s right for you.
Bounty hunters are also known as bail agency enforcers. They work within the criminal justice system to bring bail jumpers and fugitives back to be booked. This is a very independent job and a great career choice for the right person.
Going into this career requires the right education and training. Let’s look at the job duties of a bounty hunter and how to become one.
Job Duties of a Bounty Hunter
Sure, the movies might make bounty hunters seem super cool and glamorous. However, this is not the adventurous career that is shown off by Vin Diesel and other super-fit actors in movies.
Bounty hunters must be very patient, incredibly smart, and in good physical shape. The job duties require you to have these qualities and include:
- Researching the laws governing the apprehension of the guilty person
- Interviewing witnesses and people that may have seen the person you are tracking
- Determine where the fugitive was last seen
- Figure out the best way to apprehend the fugitive
- Apprehend someone that jumps bail or refuses to appear in court
These job duties require you to do a ton of research, learn how to find people that have skipped bail, and apprehend them. Without good physical fitness and intelligence, you likely won’t do well in this career.
How To Become a Bounty Hunter in 5 Steps
Step #1 – Meet the Eligibility Requirements
State requirements vary from one state to another. However, they will be similar to the eligibility requirements of Florida, which include:
- Must be at least 18 years of age
- Must have a GED or high school diploma
- Must be a U.S. citizen or legally able to work in the United States
- Must be a resident of the state where you plan to work
- Cannot have been convicted of a felony crime punishable by one year or longer in prison
- Must have a business address in the state
- Must pass the bail bond agent licensing exam
- Must complete a pre-licensing course
- Must provide three-character references from the county where you plan to work
These are common requirements held by many states. Your state may vary from these a bit and you should always check your state requirements before you start the process to become a bounty hunter.
Step #2 – Get the Proper Training/Education
Before you become a bounty hunter, you will need to complete high school or get a GED. You don’t need a college degree, but many bounty hunters have associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in police studies, law, psychology, criminal justice, or law enforcement.
Along with a high school education, you will be required, in most states, to complete a pre-licensing course. This program may take 120 hours to complete. Each state is a bit different, so you may spend more or less time completing this course.
Many online versions of this course can be found. Just make sure it’s approved by your state. It’s common to find a course that will cover the following:
- Fundamentals of contracts
- How to become licensed as a bounty hunter
- Bail business operation
- Arrest and release
- Bail as surety
- The court system
- Bail bond agent regulations
- Judgments and forfeitures
You will likely need to study and pass the exam with an 80% or higher, depending on your state.
Step #3 – Pass Your State Licensing Exam
Once you complete all the necessary requirements, you will need to pay for and take your state exam. It’s necessary to pass this exam, which will vary from one state to another. Usually, the exam will take around an hour to complete. It will likely cost between $40 and $100.
Step #4 – Apply to Become a Bail Agent
After passing the exam, you will need to apply to get your license as a bail agent. This will require the completed and signed application, along with the fee, fingerprints, three-character references, passing exam scores, and a completion certification from the pre-licensing course.
Your license will be good for one to three years. Most states require continuing education and a renewal fee to keep your license current.
Step #5 – Find a Place to Work
If you have met all the requirements and earned your license, it’s time to find a company to work for. There are several bail bonds options and surety companies in every state to consider.
Common Skills Needed for Bounty Hunters
Successful bounty hunters have the right skills for the job, which include:
- Physically Fit – While you won’t spend all your time literally chasing down fugitives, being physically fit will help. You want to stay in good shape as a bounty hunter.
- Technology Skills – The ability to use social media, skip tracing programs, and other technology can help you track down fugitives. You will need to be able to follow an electronic trail of credit card usage, cell phone use, and other records.
- Good Research Skills – Tracking down fugitives means you need to be able to research very well. You will need to be able to look into the lifestyle and background of the person you are tracking down.
- Communication Skills – A big part of your job will be working with people that know the fugitive. You will need to speak with family members, friends, associates, and others that may have seen or had contact with the person.
- Organizational Skills – You might be tracking down more than one fugitive at a time. This requires you to stay very well organized as you work to find these people and apprehend them.
These skills can help you to become a very successful bounty hunter.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bounty Hunters
How much can I make as a bounty hunter?
Your salary will depend on where you work as a bounty hunter. Payscale.com puts the average salary for a bounty hunter at about $50K per year. They have the range at $30K to $61K with some earning as much as $95K per year.
It’s rather common for bounty hunters to work as private investigators, skip tracers, and process servers, as well. This can help to provide another source of income when the work as a bounty hunter isn’t coming in regularly.
You may also apprehend a jumper with a higher bond and earn a higher amount. The commission you get paid can be as much as 25%, so a bond of $100K, could put $25K in your pocket.
What type of schedule does a bounty hunter work?
The hours you work will be rather irregular. This isn’t a career you can go into and expect to work 9-to-5. Instead, you can expect to work long hours with long breaks in between fugitives you will be chasing down.
You might work long hours for a few weeks, capture a fugitive, and then not work for a few weeks. The hours can be long, but they can also be rather irregular.
Is this career dangerous?
Yes, at times, being a bounty hunter can be dangerous. However, with the right training, you can mitigate some of the dangers. Many fugitives will be armed and can present danger to a bounty hunter.
When you go through the right training to become a bounty hunter, you’ll be able to stay out of harm’s way easier.
Who makes a good bounty hunter?
It’s rather common for bounty hunters to be former police officers or those that have been in the military. Some may also come from the security industry. However, anybody can become a bounty hunter with the right training.
Can I be a bounty hunter in any state?
Most states allow bounty hunting, but there are somewhere physical bounty hunting is banned. These states include Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.
Are there any states where I won’t need a license to become a bounty hunter?
Yes, there are a few states where a license isn’t necessary. In the following states you don’t need a license or any training:
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
You can also work as a helper without training or a license in many other states.
Who are the most famous bounty hunters?
Duane Champan is one of the most famous bounty hunters still actively working today. Rich Crouch is another famous one but stopped working in 2005. Charietto was one of the first bounty hunters, and the Dunn Brothers are also well-known from the 1800s.
If you want to enjoy an exciting and unique career, learning how to become a bounty hunter is a great option. This career can be very lucrative if you become a very good bounty hunter. Of course, you will need to follow the steps above and meet your state requirements for this career.