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

Learn how to become a bounty hunter. Research the education requirements, training, licensure information and experience you will need to start a career in bounty hunting. View article »

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Bounty Hunter?

Bounty hunters, also known as fugitive recovery agents or bail enforcement agents, track down people who have skipped out on bail and not met the set requirements. They apprehend fugitives and then return them to police custody. This position is considered dangerous due to the unpredictability of criminals and the possibility of violence. The salary varies widely because it's based on a percentage of the bond.

Career Requirements

Degree Level None; training may be necessary for state licensure
Degree Field Bounty hunting, bail enforcement, fugitive recovery
Licensure License required in some states; firearms licensure may be necessary
Key Skills Surveillance, research, and networking skills; apprehension techniques
Salary Varies; commission based on a percentage of the bond

Source: National Association of Fugitive Recovery Agents

To become a bounty hunter, you don't need a degree, but completion of a training program in bounty hunting, bail enforcement or fugitive recovery may be necessary for state licensure. A license is required in some states and a firearms licensure may be necessary as well. You'll need skills in surveillance, research, networking and apprehension techniques.

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Steps to Become a Bounty Hunter

Let's find out what steps you'll need to take to become a bounty hunter.

Step 1: Complete a Training Program

Many training programs are available for bounty hunters across the United States at private academies and community colleges. Training programs vary in length, but their purpose is to educate bounty hunters on the laws they need to follow and the skills necessary to capture targets. Training courses may cover topics like apprehension techniques, negotiating, interviewing and deception detection, surveillance and fugitive tracking.

Confirm a program's legitimacy and state approval. Some states require bail enforcement agents to have completed certain approved programs. You should contact the appropriate state department. In some states, this is the insurance department. In others, it's the department of public safety or criminal justice services.

Participate in an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships that match aspiring bounty hunters with professionals in the field may be available through certain organizations, like the National Association of Fugitive Recovery Agents. Working under the supervision of a professional bail enforcement agent can help you gain experience in the field.

Step 2: Obtain Licensure

Some states do require bounty hunters to be licensed. Requirements for licensure vary from state to state, but applicants often need to be 18 or 21 years of age. Fingerprinting may be required, and a clean criminal record is usually necessary. In addition to finishing pre-licensure education, you may need to obtain a surety bond, which guarantees payment of bail if a fugitive isn't brought before the court. Some states have work experience requirements as well. If you plan on carrying a firearm may need to possess a permit and have the gun registered.

Step 3: Find Work

Bail bondsmen typically hire and offer jobs to bounty hunters, so working with these individuals is extremely important. In addition, you may be required to notify local law enforcement agencies of your bounty hunting activities.

Step 4: Continue Education to Maintain Licensure and Expand Skills

Continuing education may be required for licensure renewal and can help you improve you current skills and develop new techniques. For example, you may take classes in taser use, bounty hunting laws, firearm safety or self-defense.

Step 5: Become Registered to Advance Career

When bail bond companies from other parts of the country need help finding fugitives outside of their region, they can contact registered bounty hunters through the National Association of Fugitive Recovery Agents (NAFRA) for help. Registering with NAFRA gives your new business opportunities because it expands your potential client base.

To become a bounty hunter, you need to complete a training program and obtain any necessary licenses.

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