You might be thinking a bounty hunter is one who hunts animals — you are not far from the truth. After all, they hunt. Actually, a bounty hunter is a private professional who gets paid for capturing fugitives or those trying to skip bail.
Carefully read through to learn how to become a bounty hunter, job descriptions, requirements, and lots more. They are also known as bail enforcement agents.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private investigators of all types earn a median salary of $50,510 annually. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also projects job openings for bounty hunters to increase 8% from 2018-2028, a growth rate faster than the national average.
In this article put together by The World Scholarship Forum, we’ll be looking at how to become a bounty hunter and every other thing you need to know about bounty hunting.
See the table of contents below for a quick overview of this piece.
Who Is A Bounty Hunter?
A bounty hunter is a private professional who is hired by a bail bondsman to capture fugitives and criminals in exchange for monetary reward otherwise known as “bounty”. Ideally, bounty hunters operate outside the legal constraints that govern the police officers and other armed officials.
The bounty hunter’s reward which is known as “bounty,” is typically a percentage of the bail. For instance, if a fugitive’s bail is $15,000, a bail bondsman may choose to reward the bounty hunter between 10 to 20 percent of the bail amount. This is dependent on their agreement and the results of the bounty hunter’s operation.
The bail agreement is normally a civil contract between a defendant and a bail bondsman. Suffice it to say, bounty hunters are hired by a bail bondsman.
Earlier on, I made mention the fact that the legal restriction that binds the police and other legal security outfits in the United States does not bind the bounty hunter. Regardless, there are limits to his actions. However, bounty hunters enjoy certain privileges such as forcibly entering a defendant’s home without search warrants.
The occupation, officially known as bail agency enforcer, bail enforcement agent, bail agent, recovery agent, bail recovery agent, or fugitive recovery agent.
Bounty hunting is a vestige of Common law that was created during the Middle Ages.
What Does A Bounty Hunter Do?
A bounty hunter capture clients who are fugitives, running from the law. In other words, they go for those who have skipped bail or failed to appear for court proceedings. These bounty hunters are also referred to as bail enforcement agents.
Furthermore, they work with bail bond companies, pursuing suspects who have failed to pay bail or refused to show up in court when due. Typically employed as independent contractors, they are private citizens with the legal authority to track down and arrest fugitives. Bounty hunters usually receive a set percentage (often between 10%-25%) of a bail bond’s value.
Bounty hunting comes with various challenges, and most bounty hunters hold significant law enforcement experience. Many are former police officers or private investigators who draw on their work experience and networks of professional contacts.
Like law enforcement, bounty hunters encounter a certain level of danger, as suspects may resist apprehension. Bounty hunters often carry weapons and may have the need to defend themselves against physical harm. See the duties of a bounty hunter below…
Collect New Bounties
Bounty hunters work with bond agencies to take on bounties for a certain fee. Most times, they work as independent contractors, so they may need to accept contracts from different agencies.
The course of Investigation often involves traveling to a fugitive’s home, workplace, and usual hangouts to accumulate information and interview subjects
They may also need to carry out research. This involves communicating with police, tracking credit cards, monitoring a suspect’s online presence, and any other relevant research task.
How Can I Become A Bounty Hunter?
To become a bounty hunter, you need to acquire a certain level of academic qualification which is not lower than high school, relevant experience, and a license to practice.
Bounty hunters are private professionals who aid the criminal justice system. They work with a bail bondsman to pursue and apprehend fugitives. They also conduct investigations, interview subjects, and monitor the identity of suspects. It is their duty to hand over fugitives to the proper authorities. You have to be ready for what’s involved. Remember, you are going to catch fugitives.
What Are The Requirements To Become A Bounty Hunter?
To become a bounty hunter, you need education, professional experience, connections, and license depending on your state. The more connection you possess, the more likely you are to succeed quickly in the field. Those wondering ‘what it takes to be a bounty hunter’ can go through the outlines below to see the steps required to become a bounty hunter.
Step by step to becoming a bounty hunter
1. Get Educated
While becoming a bounty hunter does not require a specific degree. Anything less than a high school degree is off it. However, a degree in criminal justice or law enforcement will help you build the necessary skills, thus, make the job easier.
2. Gain Experience
The job is more practical than theoretical, therefore, a certain level of experience is required to excel in the field. Professional experience in criminal justice — often as a police officer and/or a private detective — can prepare bounty hunters for the multiple challenges in the field.
3. Obtain A License
Most states in the U.S maintain licensure requirements for bounty hunters, which may call for professional experience or education. So, do well to search for the requirements of your particular state.
4. Build A Strong Network
To obtain assignments, bounty hunters need to build a network of connections with bail bond agencies and local bail bond representatives. This will help generate more jobs and contracts.
The process to become a bail enforcement agent differs from state to state; about half of all U.S. states demand official licensure or registration. Even in states without licensure requirements, bounty hunters need to undergo training before they can expect any success in the field. Those with fewer professional connections may also have trouble receiving bounty assignments.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Bounty Hunter?
The exact timeline for becoming a bail enforcement agent varies by state. However, most bounty hunters need a good number of years of criminal justice experience to succeed in the field. I’m not saying you can’t come into the field as a novice, but it will be better to have a high level of expertise before taking on the job.
What Type Of Training Do I Need To Become A Bounty Hunter?
Most states do require at least some training or experience to earn licensure. However, if you are in a state that allows firearms, a carry permit will be needed as well. Training can be completed on the job or through a criminal justice program.
Where Can I Learn To Become A Bounty Hunter?
Just stated earlier on, to be a bounty hunter, you don’t require any specific degree qualification. However, you will find degrees in criminal justice, law, criminology, and corrections highly helpful. See schools below…
University of Connecticut
The UConn School of Law is one of the leading public law schools in the country. Established in 1921, the Law School is approved by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. It offers a professional education of the highest quality that prepares its graduates for a lifetime of fulfilling service in any career they choose, including the bar, government, business, and education. The school’s program highlights intellectual discipline and the development of the professional analytic skills required to respond effectively to the challenge of dynamic change in the law and in the society it serves.
Eastern Kentucky University
Correctional and Juvenile Justice, Criminal Justice, Legal Studies and Police Studies
Eastern Kentucky offers academic degrees in Correctional and Juvenile Justice, Criminal Justice, Legal studies, and Police studies. These programs are all beneficial to a bounty hunter as they expose him/her to the basic knowledge of the law, criminal justice, and its impact.
Public Safety, Law and Professional Studies
The university offers a degree in public safety, law, and professional studies where you have programs like Law enforcement, legal interpretation, paralegal studies, and administrative justices. These programs add value to a bounty hunter.
Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU offers a degree in criminal justice. This program is designed for bounty hunters who wish to gain not just physical strengths but also academic strength to back it up.
The bachelor’s program in criminal justice equips students for careers in criminal justice, forensic crime scene investigation, and other public service professions. It also prepares students for graduate studies in law and criminal justice.
Eastern Michigan University
Criminology and Criminal Justice, Public Law
EMU offers a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in criminology and criminal justice and public law. Earning a degree in any of these disciplines will be highly helpful to a bounty hunter. This is because the duty of a bail enforcement agent revolves around criminology and criminal justice and public law.
University of Central Missouri
The University of Central Missouri offers an undergraduate degree in Criminal justice. This course exposes intending and professional bounty hunters to the criminal justice system. You will be able to Identify moral and ethical issues inherent in the administration of justice and the practice of criminal justice.
North Dakota State University
Criminal justice as a discipline focuses on the broad areas of law enforcement, courts, and corrections, as well as criminological and legal theories that inform practice in these areas.
The work of criminal justice practitioners may include police patrol, criminal investigations, supervising juveniles on probation, counseling and correctional work in institutions, group homes, or halfway houses, and other rewarding careers.
Goodwin college’s associate degree in Criminal Justice will give you the opportunity to experience and learn about all aspects of the Criminal Justice system. You will improve the critical thinking skills necessary for modern law enforcement, security, emergency response, and investigative professions. Through exposure to modern policing issues, historical development, and the future of Criminal Justice, you will be well-prepared for a successful career.
University of Maryland College Park
Criminology and Criminal Justice
With a focus on the promulgation of research-based policies to prevent and control delinquency, crime, and terrorism, the department trains graduate students to conduct and understand basic and applied research; and the provision of undergraduate education of the highest quality including internships and international experiences.
Youngstown’s Criminal Justice students study the law inside and out, and how best to protect citizens under those laws. You learn in-depth studies of case laws, statutes, and rules at the state and federal levels. Many students also choose to go on to law school after earning their degrees.
Students also get the opportunity to combine academic studies with the daily operations of a forensic science-related facility through our required internship program during their senior year.
How Much Does A Bounty Hunter Earn? Job Outlook & Salary
Bounty hunters are under the occupational umbrella of private detectives and investigators. The BLS reports private investigators of all types earn a median salary of $50,510 annually. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also projects job openings for bounty hunters to increase 8% from 2018-2028, a growth rate faster than the national average.
Bounty hunters get compensation for each contract they fulfill, typically collecting pay only after they apprehend a fugitive. Consequently, a bounty hunter’s annual salary differs based on how many contracts they complete during a year. It might also interest you to know that bounty hunters with more experience commonly earn a higher rate per assignment.
Nevertheless, a bounty hunter’s level of education does not assure high earnings. However, those with higher levels of education typically possess a more comprehensive skill set and greater knowledge of criminal justice practices, enabling them to take on more tough assignments that come with higher pay.
In most cases, bounty hunters receive 10 to 20 percent of the total bail bond.
Asides from their earnings, the duty of a bounty hunter is not a child’s play, they get to spend hours working on a particular target. They even get immersed in visits to a bar shop just to sit there and monitor the target’s movement. According to Bob Burton, the real reward is the adrenaline rush that comes from making an arrest or capturing a target.
In situations where the defendant otherwise known as the accused can not afford bail, a bail bondsman will step in and put up a bail bond — sort of like a loan — in return for a percentage (usually 10 percent) of the total bail. Afterward, the bail bondsman will then secure a bail bond from an insurance company.
How Can I Earn License To Become A Bounty Hunter?
To become a licensed bounty hunter, you need to stick to the following steps;
Step 1: Pass a Background Check and Meet State Requirements
Before a bounty hunter license is granted, a background check is required. This is used to determine the applicant’s history and qualifications. For instance, individuals with felony convictions may not be licensed. Furthermore, the background check ensures that candidates have no previous mental issues, drug cases, and more.
While some states accept applicants from 18 years, some states accept applicants who are 21 and above.
Also, candidates must be U.S citizens or legal residents and a high school graduate at least.
Some states do not permit employees of local or regional jails, sheriff’s offices, police departments, corrections or criminal justice departments, attorneys, or probation services to work as bail enforcement agents. However, previous experience in law enforcement or investigations may be helpful.
Step 2: Complete Training Course
Most states require bail enforcement agents to complete a training course before granting them a license. Candidates can check with the state licensing departments for outlined bounty hunting training programs. The number of training hours varies per state. Previous experience in law enforcement may exempt individuals from a training course.
Core topics in these programs include state laws, the legal system, investigative techniques, recovery methods, care and custody of prisoners, and bail law. Additional training in firearms is given to bounty hunters who carry or have access to firearms. Training is done through classroom instruction, hands-on exercises, and range training. Not to forget, firearms permits will be demanded from those who carry guns.
Step 3: Apply for Licensure
Some states demand documents like a copy of the applicant’s driver’s license or identification card, a recent photograph, a fingerprint card, a high school diploma or college transcript, a bail enforcement training course certificate, a motor vehicle report, and a recent credit report. A fee is usually required.
Of course, you can’t just jump into bounty hunting without getting a license. Students or professionals who wish to obtain a bounty hunting license must examine their state’s requirements for licensure.
Step 4: Gain Work Experience
Some states demand that entry-level bounty hunters work as apprentices under experienced bail enforcement agents. These apprentices must accomplish a certain number of hours before they advance to higher positions or to work as independent contractors of a bail enforcement agency.
Step 5: Become Bonded
Being a bounty hunter does not end at obtaining a bounty hunter’s license. The individual must maintain a surety bond in an amount specified by that state. Some states allow bounty hunters to obtain a liability insurance policy that protects them against damages that may arise while performing bail enforcement duties. Employees of bail enforcement agencies are usually free from this requirement.
You can’t just jump into bounty hunting without getting proper orientation and a license. Therefore, students or professionals who wish to obtain a bounty hunting license must get the proper orientation and examine their state’s requirements for licensure.
FAQs On How To Become A Bounty Hunter
A bounty hunter is a private professional who is hired by a bail bondsman to capture fugitives and criminals in exchange for monetary reward otherwise known as “bounty”
A bounty hunter capture clients who are fugitives, running from the law.
To become a bounty hunter, you need education, professional experience, connections, and a state license to practice.
The exact timeline for becoming a bounty hunter varies by state. However, most bounty hunters need a good number of years in criminal justice experience to succeed in the field.
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