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Become a Bounty Hunter: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Jan 10, 2020

Bounty hunter qualifications vary by state but generally include training and licensure and/or certification. Explore how to become a bounty hunter, career advancement, and learn about the median annual salary for this career.

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How to Be a Bounty Hunter

A bounty hunter, also known as a bail enforcement agent or fugitive recovery agent, is responsible for locating and taking into custody someone who has 'skipped' on their bail and failed to meet the requirements in their bail contract. Those wondering 'what does it take to be a bounty hunter?' can explore a step-by-step process in starting a career as a bounty hunter below.

Step 1: Meet Bounty Hunter Requirements for Training

There are no formal education requirements for bounty hunters, as most only need a high school diploma. However, bounty hunters must meet their state's requirements for bounty hunters, which usually include completing some sort of training program. Some of these bounty hunter certification and training programs can be found online. Other training programs may be offered through apprenticeships or short training courses.

For example, in the state of Oklahoma, aspiring bounty hunters can complete training at a number of career tech schools. These training programs include 5 phases of training that provide training for unarmed security guards, private investigators, and unarmed and armed bail enforcers. These different phases of training include topics in:

  • First aid
  • Law
  • Firearms training
  • Surveillance
  • Tactical considerations
  • Tasers

Apprenticeships may be available in certain areas with an experienced fugitive recovery agent. These experienced agents often find apprentices in their area through connection with the National Association of Fugitive Recovery Agents (NAFRA). These experienced agents serve as a mentor for the apprentice and help train them in the field.

Step2: Pursue Bounty Hunter Licensing for Your State

Students needing to earn a bounty hunter license must examine their state's requirements for licensure. Some states, such as Utah, have general requirements, like being 21 years of age and a citizen or legal resident, as well as specific requirements in regards to training. For example, Utah requires those applying for bail enforcement agent licensure to have 2,000 hours of bail enforcement/recovery experience, while those applying for bail recovery agent licensure only need 1,000 hours of experience. State licensure may also require a state exam and/or continuing education hours to maintain or renew licensure.

Step 3: Meet Additional Bounty Hunter Qualifications

Generally, states will have additional requirements for bounty hunters who intend to carry firearms. Typically, carrying firearms requires additional training and/or a valid state permit for carrying firearms. Some states may also require bounty hunters to have workers compensation insurance if they intend to run a bail bond recovery agency. This proof of insurance may be required during the licensure process.

Step 4: Advance Career with Bounty Hunter Certification

Although it is not usually required, NAFRA does offer a professional certification for bounty hunters. This certification requires an exam and may help bounty hunters advance their careers. Membership to the organization also offers access to SkipNet, where bounty hunters can create a listing for exposure into the profession.

Bounty Hunter Salary

According to PayScale.com, bounty hunters made a median annual salary of $55,000 as of December 2019. PayScale.com noted that from their surveys that those that who were beginning their career in the field made 9% less than bounty hunters with more experience.

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