How to Become a Fugitive Recovery Agent: Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a fugitive recovery agent. Research the career requirements, licensure information and training required for starting a career in criminal justice.

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Should I Become a Fugitive Recovery Agent?

There are many other job titles for fugitive recovery agents, including bounty hunters, bail enforcement agents and bail recovery agents. If a bailee refuses to go to court or tries to leave the region, your job as a fugitive recovery agent will be to locate and apprehend that individual. You can arrest the bailee and bring that person to the proper authorities. As you might expect, this job can be dangerous, and you'll likely need to carry a weapon.

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Career Requirements

Education Level GED or high school diploma, some postsecondary training
Licensure and/or Certification State fugitive recovery agent license or certification; firearms license and other weapons certification may be required
Key Skills Strong sense of morality and justice, familiar with local and federal bail recovery legal statutes, an understanding of the court system, physical strength and stamina, good communication skills; investigation and surveillance equipment, knowledge of weapons and state approved restraining devices
Additional Requirements Submit copies of fingerprints, pass background checks, meet age requirements
Salary (2014) Pay is typically 10% of the bond, with bonds primarily in the range of $1000-$5000, no expenses paid

Source: Professional Bail Agents of the United States

Step 1: Meet State Eligibility Requirements

For this career field, individuals must be a legal resident or citizen of the United States and meet state age requirements. Some states require that recovery agent applicants have no criminal record. Other states may be more lenient, and only require that applicants have no misdemeanors or felonies related to domestic violence or aggravated assault on their records.

Minimum education requirements vary as well. For instance, some states require an applicant to hold the equivalent of high school diploma, but other states may only require an applicant to attend specified training courses. In some states, an applicant may have to prove that he or she is responsible with money by passing credit or background checks. Lastly, an applicant must pay appropriate fees or take-out surety bonds to fulfill final eligibility requirements.

Step 2: Learn State Fugitive Recovery Regulations

Recovery agents need to learn the regulations for their state of employment. However, each state has different laws for fugitive recovery agents, and some states do not allow certain types of fugitive recovery. For example, Kentucky, Oregon, Wisconsin and Illinois have special laws that prohibit agents from receiving monetary compensation for recovering fugitives. North Carolina, Florida and South Carolina have regulations that prohibit freelance recovery agents. Most other states have licensing or certification requirements that all agents must meet prior to employment.

Success Tip:

  • Review regulations for nearby states. Since fugitives may try escaping to neighboring states, fugitive recovery agents may want to consider learning the bail recovery regulations for adjoining regions. For instance, some states require agents to obtain bench warrants prior to apprehending bailees.

Step 3: Complete Required Training Courses

Several states have training requirements for fugitive recovery agents. Individuals may have to complete certificate programs, bail agent pre-licensing programs or some postsecondary coursework related to this career field. Potential topics in these programs may include surveillance techniques, interviewing tactics, defendant location strategies, state bail laws, recovery procedures and safety precautions.

Success Tip:

  • Take criminal justice classes. Not all areas provide training programs specifically in the field of fugitive recovery. To compensate, individuals may want to consider taking criminal justice courses. These classes may teach students about search and seizure strategies, investigative techniques, criminal court procedures, human behavior and criminal law.

Step 4: Pass Required Licensing or Certification Exams

Although not all states have specific education or training requirements, most states do require applicants to pass exams prior to becoming licensed or certified as a state fugitive recovery agents. Exam topics may cover state and federal laws pertaining to bail bonds and bail recovery. There may also be questions about recovery agent job duties, such as custody rules and regulations on lethal force.

Success Tip:

  • Contact local exam boards. Some states list exam outline information online, but some may not. To find out more information about licensing exams, applicants may want to contact the individual state departments in charge of fugitive recovery agent licensing. Workers at these offices may be able to provide lists of potential exam topics or study materials.

Step 5: Become a Fugitive Recovery Agent

Upon meeting all necessary requirements and passing exams, individuals can become state licensed or certified recovery agents. Some professionals may choose to join bail recovery agencies, but other agents may wish to work freelance. Agents will have to renew their licenses or certifications in accordance with state law, and many states require renewals every two years. The renewal process may include paying fees, fingerprinting, background checks or completion of continued education coursework.

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