Bail agents act as sureties, hiring bounty hunters to retrieve fugitives who do not report for court dates or capturing them themselves. Licensure is required in many states and usually includes coursework, training, and examinations as prerequisites. This article will be able to answer questions such as what is a bail agent, what is a bail bondsman job, and how much is the typical bail agent salary.
What is a Bail Bond Agent?
Also known as bail bondsmen, bail agents assist in maintaining a defendant's freedom of movement following an arrest and bail hearing by posting money as a guarantee the defendant will return to court for trial and future court hearings. There are no specific education programs for bail bondsmen, but some states require that they be licensed, which may mandate completing a training program and passing an examination as well as taking continuing education classes.
|Required Education||Pre-licensing training course may be required|
|Other Requirements||Some states require licensing; continuing education classes typically required for renewal|
|Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)*||4% for financial specialists, including bail bondsmen|
|Median Annual Salary (2020)**||$40,337|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com
What is a Bail Bond?
A bail bond is essentially the amount of money that one must pay in order to leave jail before their criminal hearing. These funds prevent criminals from being released, and in many cases these bonds increase according to the crimes committed. There are a number of different types of bail bonds including the following:
- Surety Bond - Used when the accused is not able to pay the full amount and uses a bail agent to fill the fee
- Cash Bond - Requires that the full amount of the bond is paid in cash
- Property Bond - Causes a claim to be placed on an accused property. If they fail to show up to court these possessions may be possessed by the court
- Immigration Bond - Used by those detained by ICE. Typically these use a bondsman
Bail Bond Agent: Job Description and Job Duties
Bail Bondsman Job Description
Bail agents work for themselves or as employees of bail bond agencies or insurance companies. Bail agents may hire bail enforcement officers, also known as bounty hunters or fugitive recovery agents, to locate and apprehend defendants who fail to appear in court. Some bail agents act as their own bail enforcement officers, which generally requires additional training and, in some cases, licensure.
Bail Bondsman Job Duties
Bail agents act as liaisons between courts and defendants, providing the funds required to release from custody a defendant who is awaiting trial. Should the defendant fail to return to court on the assigned day, the bail agent must track down the defendant, or hire a bail enforcement officer to do so, within a period of time set by the courts. If they are unable to locate the defendant within that time period, bail agents must forfeit the entire bail amount.
Bail Bond Agent: Requirements
Not all states require licensure for bail agents, and in those states that do, requirements vary. In many cases, states set age requirements for prospective bail agents, and candidates for licensure may be subject to criminal background and credit checks. Many states also require that bail agents complete training and/or pass an examination en route to licensure. Additionally, some states require that bail agents take part in yearly continuing education courses to maintain their licensure.
Pre-licensing classes for bail agents often are offered through professional development or continuing education departments of two-year community colleges or four-year colleges and universities. These programs generally include 8-20 hours of classroom instruction, covering topics like sound business practices and state statutes. Some programs for prospective bail agents are offered online.
Bail Bond Agent: Salary and Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide information specific to bail bondsmen, but classifies this occupation in a group with financial specialists. The BLS predicted that employment within this career group would increase slower than the averge between 2018 and 2028. PayScale.com reported that the median salary among bail bonding agents was about $40,337 as of November 2020. The lowest 10th percentile of bail bond agents make less than $20,000 annually, while the 90th percentile earn more than $82,000 annually.
The exact education for bail bondsmen varies, but many are required to take educational classes and pass other tests to earn licensure, which may be needed. Bail agents must be able to track down and capture people who jump bail, all in a timely manner so that they can appear for their court date.