Bounty Hunter Career, Salary and Training – Bail Enforcement Agent

The career of a bounty hunter is unique to the United States and legal only in the U.S. and the Philippines. Other terms for this job are bail enforcement agent, fugitive recovery agent, and bail fugitive investigator. The job description is simple – a bounty hunter captures fugitives from justice in exchange for a monetary reward (the bounty).

When the court sets bail for a defendant, the defendant will often pay 10% of the bond amount while the bail bondsman guarantees the remaining 90 percent. If the defendant shows up for trial, the bondsman earns the 10 percent paid to him or her initially and he is in profit.

If the defendant eludes bail by not showing up for court, it is the bail bondsman who is responsible for paying the remaining 90 percent of the bond to the court. Bounty hunters are most often hired by bail bondsmen to recover a fugitive and return him to the court.

Most bounty hunters are self-employed and offer their services to bail bond companies for 5-10 percent of the bond set for the fugitive.

Bounty Hunter Requirements

Some states do not have any training requirements for fugitive recovery agents and require only that a bail bondsman sanction the search for a fugitive. Other states have various training and licensing requirements. For example, California requires background checks and completion of several courses to fulfill the penal code of the state, while Louisiana requires the bounty hunter to wear clothing clearly identifying their profession.

Most states prohibit bail enforcement agents from carrying a firearm. Some states impose restrictions on out of state bounty hunters which make those states temporary safe havens for fleeing fugitives.

Bail Enforcement Agent Education and Training

Bounty hunters do not have the legal protections awarded to police officers and can be held liable for injuries inflicted on their targets.

There are several schools that offer training for aspiring bounty hunters. Quite a few of these offer online courses and some are offered by experienced fugitive recovery agents. The most common entry level into this career is to work for a bail bondsman or to offer your services for free to an established bounty hunter.

Useful skills for this career include apprehension techniques and research skills. Working in groups minimizes risk associated with the apprehension of fugitives but this can be a dangerous profession for someone who is untrained and inexperienced.

Although some states require licensing, those licenses are fairly easy to obtain. Working without a license in a state without that requirement will leave you subject to prosecution.

Bounty Hunter Salary

Successful bail bond investigators can earn over $100,000 per year and almost all active bounty hunters earn a minimum of $35,000 in fees annually.

Bounty Hunter Career Opportunities

Experienced fugitive recovery agents often develop their own team of bounty hunters who work together to maximize effective recoveries, minimize the risk of violence, and multiply income potential.

There is also a market for information and training products that teach the techniques and skills of fugitive recovery.

Take a look at other great Criminal Justice Careers.

Article written by Radek Gadek

Radek holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He is currently doing consulting work and runs this blog to provide relevant information on criminal justice degrees, colleges and related careers.

11 comments… add one
  • sarah

    I have just returned to school for criminal justice, im interested in several areas but just read the section on bail bondsmen and im very interested, do u know the laws for the state of Tennessee or where i might find them. And would it be possible to acquire a job helping with the office part before i have taken the classes?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I don’t know the pertinent laws associated with bail bondsman in TN. I would contact a local bail bondsman or inquire on the State of Tennessee website about such information.

    • Josh

      Sarah do a google search for bounty hunting laws in Tennessee. This will bring up several websites one of them has the actual state codes listed. I don’t remember which site though. I just looked them up a few weeks ago as I am thinking of moving to TN myself and wanted to know how they was compared to where I am on bounty hunting laws.

  • Charles Mull

    I have a simple question, it maybe easier then most. I am going to school for Criminal Justice, I have a math research paper to do. I need to know what all Math you use to be a bounty hunter. If you could give me a website to go to that would have answers based on this, it would be greatly appreciated.

  • Jose

    I am very interested in this field…I was wondering what exactly do i study for to be a bounty hunter? is there Bounty hunter career in college or is there separate schools for that? i wasn’t clear on that… Also do you know the laws for TX? by being a bounty hunter can we arrest and stuff like that? or do we have to call the police? is it like DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER???

    • Radek Gadek

      I am not familiar with the laws in Texas pertaining to bail enforcement. In most state’s you have to meet certain requirements and take a test that will allow you to become a bounty hunter. In many cases, an apprenticeship will be required.

      • Chris t.

        You only need to acquire class c commissioned security license (about $300 &50 hours) and be employed by a licensed and insured company or start your own company. I’m in the process right now. Apprenticeship is not required and a firearm CAN be carried on duty with a class c certification. 10% is the usual fee u $500,000 bond = $50,000 in your pocket.

  • Nate

    T.a.p.b.a. – That’s tn professional bail agent org. Lot harder than sounds in that article I’m an agent and enforcement for 7 yrs but that will let you know

  • Sean

    I’m currently a police officer and would like to become a fugitive recovery agent what do I need to do and where do I find a job?

    • Kevin

      Almost positive as a police officer you can’t be a bounty hunter… Its a conflict of interest as your duty as a police officer is to apprehend fugitives and when you do you don’t get paid the commission it’s just part of your job.

  • breana

    I am currently studying for my associates in criminal justice. Can i use that degree to be a bondsman?

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