Selecting a Program
Bail bonding is a career that varies heavily state to state, as each state sets its own licensure and educational requirements. Before deciding on a program, students will want to consider which state they plan to work in, that state's specific requirements, and the type of programs they can pursue based on that information.
Students considering online bail bonding programs must make their decision based on several key factors. Licensing of bail bondsmen is generally done by a state's insurance department. These requirements are state-specific. Many states require bondsmen to attend approved pre-licensing education courses before they can obtain a license. States may also require bondsmen to attend periodic continuing education courses to keep their license current. Most bail bonding courses are not offered by educational institutions, but by state-approved professional associations or private companies.
Courses are designed according to state specifications, which can vary greatly. Some states require bondsmen to attend a 20-hour pre-licensing course, while others require a 120-hour program. Some states offer different types or levels of licenses, which can affect educational requirements also.
Instruction is available from a few companies completely over the Internet, although some pre-certification programs require students to take their final exam in person. Students typically utilize an online learning management system and usually communicate with professors via e-mail.
Additional study materials, such as training books or state regulation manuals may need to be purchased separately. A personal computer with a high-speed Internet connection and word processing software is often necessary for these programs.
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Pre-licensing courses for bail bondsmen and surety agents cover a wide array of topics, from the terminology used in the business to the role that the courts play in setting bonds. Bail bonding courses generally emphasize the skills and concepts covered in the state's written licensing examination. An in-depth review of the state's laws, regulations, and rules governing bail are typically the main focus of these courses. They may also touch on laws regarding arrest warrants, courtroom demeanor, and court organizational systems.
Depending on the state, students may also have to take certification courses after completing pre-licensing training. Classes also teach the skills needed in managing a bail bond agency, such as money management, self-defense training, and issues regarding collateral.
Online Bail Bonding Schools
Some states do offer online pre-licensing courses that will prepare students to take the state-specific bail bonding exam. The University of Florida offers a bail bond agent pre-licensure course that fulfills one of the requirements set by the Florida Department of Financial Services for individuals who want to obtain their professional bail bondsman license. Once this online course is completed, students will then have to complete a 120-hour face-to-face course that is offered by a couple of other institutions in order to become licensed. This program can be completed in six months or less, and tuition is $375.
The University of Alabama offers a similar course specific for that state, the Alabama Bail Bond Online Pre-Licensing Course. The online course is equivalent to 20 hours of classroom instruction. The course must be completed in 180 days and is split into nine different lessons. After completing this course, students can take the State of Alabama Bail Bond License examination to obtain their official bail bondsman license.
To summarize, bail bonding courses are generally offered on a state-by-state basis, as rules and regulations for bondsman vary. Students may be successful in finding some pre-licensure courses online, depending on what state they reside in.