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How to Become a Bounty Hunter [In 5 Easy Steps]

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Looking for a thrilling and adventurous career path that pays well?

If you like challenges and have a sense of devotion to justice, then bounty hunting might be for you. Tracking down fugitives in exchange for money does sound thrilling and challenging.

Be warned, though. Being a bounty hunter can be dangerous since you must constantly deal with criminals or fugitives. And the competitive nature of the job makes it difficult for people to secure a position easily. 

But don’t worry. We’ll help you navigate the path to how to become a bounty hunter, step by step.

An Overview of Bounty Hunting: A Primer

Bounty hunters are responsible for finding and apprehending criminals for a commission or bounty. They hold several titles, such as criminal justice agent, fugitive recovery agent, or bail recovery agent.

When people are arrested, they can pay bail to be temporarily released from jail in exchange for security given for their appearance in court at a predetermined date and time.

If they fail to appear on the set court date or try to flee town, they are considered fugitives.

And it’s the bounty hunters’ job to capture these fugitives and bring them in.

A bounty hunter in the US works for a bail bondsman (or bail bond agent). They are independent contractors who receive about 10% of the total bail amount as a commission, but only if they’re able to catch the fugitive.

How Much Do Bounty Hunters Make?

Bounty hunters come under the occupational umbrella of private detectives and investigators. According to the BLS reports, the annual salary of bounty hunters, classified under private detectives and investigators, was $59,380 as of May 2021.

According to a survey by talent.com, the average bounty hunter in the US makes $95,000 per year, which equals $45.67 per hour. The median salary ranges from $85,000 to $110,000 per year.

The salary can vary depending on various factors such as education and experience level, location, work environment, etc.

What You’ll Need to Become a Bounty Hunter [& Associated Costs]

Because bounty hunting can be a dangerous career choice, it’s important to obtain some valuable skills and understand what it takes to become a bounty hunter.

  • Physical Fitness: Bounty hunters spend much of their time traveling and looking for fugitives. They work days and nights surveilling and in pursuit, which might take a toll on their physical health. You need stamina and agility to defend yourself in dangerous situations.
  • Research and Investigative Skills: While bounty hunters often come from law enforcement backgrounds, they must possess a diverse skill set, including strong research and investigative skills. It’s important to know your way around technology to track the phones fugitives are using and check their credit card records. 
  • Self-Defense and Firearms Training: Because the job mainly involves dealing with criminals and fugitives, you should be trained in the use of firearms and other weapons. You can take self-defense or martial arts training before hunting down bail jumpers. 
  • Knowledge of Law Enforcement: As bounty hunters, you have to collaborate with law enforcement agencies, sheriff departments, and fellow bounty hunters. For effective collaboration, you need to have a good knowledge of the laws and regulations governing fugitive recovery.

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Bounty Hunter?

The cost can vary greatly depending on your location because each state has its own requirements for licensing and training programs.

While no formal degree is required, you may take bail enforcement training courses, which can cost from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

Additional costs may include license fees, insurance charges, background checks, equipment costs, etc. The equipment, such as firearms, may vary depending on what’s legally allowed in your state.

Is It Hard to Become a Bounty Hunter?

While most bounty hunter jobs don’t demand specific educational prerequisites, the professional itself can be challenging and often dangerous. You need some unique skills and expertise in research, detection, negotiation, etc.

It’s a rewarding job but can be tough if you don’t know where to start. Based on your experience, you could start working part-time and move on to become a full-time bounty hunter as you gain experience in the field.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Bounty Hunter?

The time it takes to become a bounty hunter depends primarily on your level of education and experience. If you come from a law enforcement background, you can get into action without any additional training.

However, if you have no experience in this field, you could go straight into training after obtaining your high school diploma or GED, which would take four years.

It could take you longer to complete the necessary training and gain skills.

How to Become a Bounty Hunter in 5 Simple Steps

If you’re considering a career as a bounty hunter, you need to check all the boxes and be able to secure work. Here are some of the essential steps involved in becoming a bounty hunter:

Step 1: Meet the Basic Bounty Hunter Requirements

While you don’t need a specific degree, minimum educational requirements for bounty hunters vary from state to state. Obtaining a high school diploma or GED certificate is an important first step to getting started with your bounty hunting career.

A college degree in criminal justice or a related field could give you a competitive advantage and help you prepare for the legal and business side of bounty hunting.

You might also need training in law enforcement, which you can get through apprenticeships or training programs. 

Step 2: Get Familiar with State Laws and Regulations

Each state has its own rules and laws that regulate bounty hunters’ involvement. Some states restrict bounty hunting and limit what bounty hunters can do.

For instance, some states require prospective bounty hunters to acquire licenses, while others don’t.

As bounty hunters, you often need to cross state lines to capture fugitives. Also, many states don’t allow you to enter targets’ homes. It’s important to research the state laws and regulations specific to your area. 

Step 3: Complete Necessary Training

Because a bounty hunter’s job can be dangerous sometimes, you need additional training in different areas.

The training may cover topics like law enforcement, criminology, fugitive recovery, surveillance, firearms handling, investigation tactics, self-defense, etc.

Participation in training programs and apprenticeships will help you understand key aspects of the job and ensure the safety of fugitives and the public.

Because of the nature of work, you must be trained to handle firearms and other weapons.

Step 4: Get Your State License If Required

Each state has its own licensing requirements for bail enforcement agents. For example, some states, such as Georgia, require you to register with a sheriff’s department or other agency.

It’s important to check with your state’s licensing requirements before moving forward. To get a bounty hunter license, you need to pass a written test, drug test, and background check.

And complete some approved training programs. For example, the National Association of Fugitive Recovery Agents and the National Association of Bail Agents provide training programs for bounty hunters.

Step 5: Gain Experience to Build a Strong Profile

Once you’ve done all your homework and met all the necessary requirements, it’s time to put yourself out there. You can contact your local police and ask for a ride-along, particularly when they’re out assisting bounty hunters.

Network with local law enforcement officials and bail bondsmen who often hire certified bounty hunters for hunting jobs.

Many bounty hunters are independent contractors who take jobs on a contract basis. Therefore, networking is important to get new opportunities and gain some experience.

Reasons to Consider Becoming a Bounty Hunter

A bail enforcement agent job can be both exciting and dangerous, but it’s also a great way to make more money. Here are some reasons to consider becoming a bounty hunter:

  • Great Payday: The money is good for experienced and certified bounty hunters. The average salary can be in the range of $80,000, with the top performers making in six figures.
  • Flexible Schedule: You don’t need to stick to a fixed schedule to ensure you’re never late for work. Many bounty hunters are independent contractors who work on their own schedule, capturing fugitives and collecting bounties whenever they want.
  • Thrill and Excitement: Bounty hunting might be perfect for you if you’re looking for excitement and action in the field. It’s a thrilling ride, and you get this massive adrenaline rush chasing down fugitives from one place to another.
  • Maintain Law and Order: Bounty hunters work tirelessly to keep criminals off the streets, making it safer for the public. They work to serve the community and maintain law and order. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Bounty Hunters Carry a Gun?

Because the profession involves risks and dangers, many fugitive recovery agents are trained in defensive tactics and legally allowed to carry firearms for protection or self-defense. The rules vary from state to state, though.

Do Bounty Hunters Work Regular Hours?

Due to the nature of the work, bounty hunters often work odd hours. Nights and weekends are not off-limits for someone responsible for tracking down and apprehending fugitives. They often tend to work days and nights until the suspect is caught.

Similar Gigs to Check Out

If you’re looking for other potential career options that involve going places and working in specific industries other than law enforcement, check out some options below:

  • How to Become a Welder: If you’re seeking a steady career path without a college degree, you can consider becoming a welder. The demand for professional welders is high and continues to grow.
  • How to Become a Consultant: If you love solving business problems and are good with people, you can be a consultant and share your expertise to help solve problems and make money out of it.
  • How to Become a Locksmith: From low start-up costs to job security and no education requirements, there are many reasons to consider becoming a locksmith.

Wrapping Up

Starting a career as a bounty hunter can be a bumpy ride. Remember, this career is not for the faint of heart.

But if you know what you’re doing and have been trained properly, you can arrest some bad guys and make big money. 

Hopefully, our step-by-step guide will help you navigate your way into a successful bounty-hunting career.

Did you find the article helpful? If so, feel free to share it with others who might be interested in this career.

And if you have any questions, let us know in the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you soon.

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