Bounty Hunting Jobs and Education Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a bounty hunter. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about education, job duties and licensing to find out if this is the career for you.

Bounty hunters are contracted by bail bond agencies to track down and capture criminals for pecuniary reward. A number of states prohibit this line of work, but the duties bounty hunters can perform are less trammeled than that of traditional law enforcement. They only require a high school level education and a state license.

Essential Information

Bounty hunters, also known as bail enforcement or fugitive recovery agents, apprehend fugitives on behalf of bail bond companies. Though similar in some respects to law enforcement, bounty hunters only require a state license to operate and are privately contracted.

Required Education High school diploma or GED
Other Requirements State licensure;
Firearm training and permit;
Apprenticeship under licensed bail enforcement agent;
Continuing education courses
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 5% for all private detectives and investigators
Median Salary (2015)* $45,610 annually for all private detectives and investigators

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Bounty Hunter Job Description

Bounty hunters are hired by bail bondsmen to locate and retrieve criminal defendants who fail to return to court after posting bail. Bounty hunters may also keep suspects under surveillance at the request of bail agents. Bounty hunters gather information by performing interviews, parsing phone records and analyzing credit card statements to ascertain a fugitive's current location.

Unlike law enforcement, bounty hunters are free to enter a residence without a warrant if they suspect a fugitive to be inside. They do not have to read Miranda rights and, in some states, are not restricted by extradition laws, allowing bounty hunters to transport fugitives across state lines.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), though not providing specific info for bounty hunters, reports that the field of private detectives and investigators in general is expected to grow by 5% during the 2014-2024 decade, which is slower than average. The BLS also states that these professionals earned a median annual income of $45,610 as of May 2015.

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Education and Training of Bounty Hunters

Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon and Wisconsin do not allow commercial bail bonds and, by extension, bounty hunting. Some states, like Florida, may allow bail bonds but don't allow bounty hunters. States that do allow bounty hunting require bail enforcement agents be licensed.

In most states, applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, be at least 18 years of age, and not have a criminal record. They cannot be currently employed as law enforcement.

Licensing requires completion of a minimum amount of classroom training. Coursework may include criminal and civil law, investigation techniques and tactics for safe apprehension of fugitives. Those wishing to carry a firearm are subject to additional training for a separate firearm permit or license. After classroom training, bounty hunters must train under a licensed bail enforcement agent before receiving their license. Bounty hunters are also required to take continuing education courses to maintain their license.

Training and professional resources are available from national and state bail agent associations, such as the National Association of Bail Enforcement Agents (NABEA), Professional Bail Agents of the United States (PBUS), National Institute of Bail Enforcement (NIBE) and the American Bail Coalition. NIBE also offers certification.

While bounty hunting doesn't necessitate formal education, training is provided during the process of attaining licensure, and for renewal as well. Bounty hunting isn't a widely accepted occupation, so specified information isn't available.

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