How to Become a Bounty Hunter
Far gone are the days of the slinging guns, Jesse James and the Wild West that became so synonymous with the image of bounty hunters. Yet, this is a vision that a lot of people still associate with the profession today. In fact bounty hunting is now a closely supervised occupation that makes up an integral part in the US’s criminal justice system.
A bounty hunter, also known as a bail enforcement agent, or a bail recovery agent, is a trained and licensed professional that works on capturing people who have skipped on their court appearances.
Becoming a bounty hunter, or a bail enforcement officer, can be dangerous work and is best done by people with quick thinking skills and a strong physique. It is an adventurous job that will provide adrenaline rushes many times over. The working hours are odd, and can be long, however it is a job that will never get boring, and is truly satisfying.
Becoming a Bounty Hunter
Most states don’t require any minimum amount of formal education to become a bounty hunter, however it is important to understand the laws pertaining to bounty hunting throughout the US as they vary from state to state.
A career in bounty hunting usually starts after graduating from one the many bounty hunting training schools and programs that are offered throughout the US. At these programs students learn the basics of bounty hunting such as how they get paid and what they do. They then move onto learning about the criminal liabilities that they may face as a bounty hunter, and about when they are allowed and should use force on a suspect. They offer firearm training not just physically but also on the laws pertaining to bounty hunters carrying firearms. The last thing they learn is how to transport a suspect and how to deal with jail personnel. Once you have graduated from a training course, you are then required to get a license to become a bounty hunter, and in some states you are required to pass an exam.
Although many people opt to go straight for bounty hunting training after school, there are many degrees that are offered at universities throughout the country, which will assist you in becoming a bounty hunter. Degrees in criminal justice and law enforcement are the most useful degrees for bounty hunters to have.
Schools and Training for Bounty Hunters
- The American Institute of Bail Bonding and Bail Enforcement
This school has been running since 1998, and has put out over 1000 bounty hunters into the field. They offer both online and classroom training through a curriculum developed by the Police Officers Standard and Training (POST) Board in Colorado.
- The Bail Enforcement Academy
Going since 1997, BEA is a no holds barred academy that offers up a high level of professionalism and experience, their course structure is POST approved and offers a life time membership for students to seek advice once they get out into the working world.
- U.S Fugitive Enforcement Bureau
Although it was only formed in 2007, this academy is attached to the U.S Investigations and Protection Agency, so you know that you are getting the real deal. They offer excellent, practical training programs that prepare students for the real world of bounty hunting.
- American Bail Training Center and Fugitive Recovery School
The curriculum is based on the accredited POST course, but also brings into play the teachings of the famous bounty hunter Leonard Padilla. This inclusion brings a wealth of over 35 years experience in the bounty hunting industry.
How Does Bounty Hunting Work?
Bounty hunters no longer work based on Wanted Dead or Alive posters that were nailed to lampposts; they now work for bail bondsman. The bail system allows someone who has committed a crime to leave jail, for a period of time, based on a monetary deposit. This money is there to make sure the person pitches up their court date, and the more high profile the crime the more expensive it will be. In some cases the accused may not be able to afford to pay the bail money, and this means that they either have to stay in prison until their court date, or find a way to get the money. This is where the bail bondsman comes in. They will put up the bail bond for the accused, and in return he gets a percentage of the loan, which is normally about 10%. The bail bondsman acts as guarantor that the accused will pitch up in court, of which 20% do not. If someone doesn’t come to their court date, the bail bondsman then calls a professional bounty hunter.
The job of the bounty hunter is to find the accused and bring them back into prison. They will then get a cut of the bail money.
What Does a Bounty Hunter Do?
The daily activities of a bounty hunter vary from person to person, and can change depending on different jobs and its specific requirements. However, there are general things that a bounty hunter will engage in every day when they are on the job.
- Getting a power of attorney, which enables him to arrest the accused as a representative of the bail bondsman
- Collect the suspects details such as social security number, address, phone number and vehicle number
- Investigate where the accused likes to spend time, and with whom
- Trace phone calls and credit card bills
- Stake outs in front of the suspects home, or family’s home
- Confronting and arresting the accused when found
- Drive the suspect to delivery point
It is difficult to get a fair outlook on the upcoming job growth for bounty hunter, however signs have showed that there should be an increase over the coming years.
How Much Does a Bounty Hunter Earn?
A bounty hunter earns a percentage of the total bail amount, and so it varies from job to job, but it is usually between 10 and 20% of the bail total.
Although hard to gage, it is estimated that a bounty hunter will make about $50,000 to $80,000 on 100 to 150 jobs a year depending on the state in which they work, and the consistency of jobs done.