There are a lot of Hollywood movies portraying lives of bounty hunters, including “The Bounty Hunter”, “One for the Money”, “Midnight Run” and “Domino”. If you like what you see despite the danger the profession poses, then you might want to know how to become a bounty hunter. However, movies can give the wrong impression and make bounty hunting appear fun and exciting, which isn't always the case in reality.
How to become a bounty hunter
1. The minimum requirements of becoming a bounty hunter:
- At least 21 years old.
- A minimum of High School diploma.
- US citizen or legal resident.
- Clean criminal background. No company wants to hire someone who has been previously charged of any type of crime.
2. If someone is curious about becoming a bounty hunter, the first thing to do is check with their local state if bail bonds and bounty hunters are recognized and legal to operate. Some states like Kansas, Texas, and Illinois strictly prohibit bail agents and bounty hunters.
3. Be knowledgeable about the different laws regarding bail enforcement in all states. If you are tracking down a fugitive who happens to be in a state that does not allow bounty hunters, you can be arrested for it. Read and learn as much as you can about the industry.
4. For a start, you can join bail enforcement trainings and workshops. This will help you understand how the industry works by taking courses on skip tracing, criminal codes, bail bonds, jail relations, transporting fugitives and other important skills in bail enforcement.
5. It helps to take self-defense courses for personal safety. A bounty hunter’s job does not end when a typical workday does, it continues until the bail jumper is arrested and brought back to jail. With this, you can expect that there will be people coming after you.
6. Training to use firearms, hand cuffs, bulletproof vests and spray guns is very important since you will be using and carrying them all the time. Make sure to acquire permits and licenses for all your equipment.
7. Once you have enough training, seek training under an experienced bounty hunter in your state. This will give you the chance to have a hands-on experience. You can also volunteer to work in the bail bonds agency as a clerk or staff. This “internship” training is very important but most of the time you are not going to get paid for it. The good thing about this is you gain meaningful experiences and have a greater chance of being hired by the bail agent who’s mentoring you. It is very important to establish connections with bail agents in your state since it is very difficult to find a job without referrals.
8. A student who wishes to take up formal education to become a bail agent or a bounty hunter is also a good choice. One can take a degree in: Criminal Justice, Security Management, Forensics, Law Enforcement or Homeland Security. Any of these courses can lead to working in the bail enforcement industry.
Whether you finished college or not, the most important factor of becoming a bounty hunter is having more experience.
1. Most US states require bounty hunters and bail agents to be trained and licensed. In some states like Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Kentucky, Illinois, Oregon and Wisconsin, bail bonds are not recognized and therefore does not have any need for bounty hunters.
2. Getting a license requires that you present documents to prove your identity (a valid driver’s license or passport), certificates of trainings and permits of firearms or any equipment you have. Failing to do so could result in being charged for illegal possession of firearms.
3. The licensing test includes a written exam, an interview and a series of trainings that will prove your ability to perform the duties of a bounty hunter or a bail agent.
4. The Professional Bail Agents of the United States (PBUS) requires all bail bondsmen and bounty hunters to take continuing education courses every 3 years for training and to update themselves of any changes in state policies or laws.
Bounty hunters work on a commission basis and are not usually hired full time. They do not earn a stable income and do not work on a regular schedule. In most cases, a bounty hunter earns 10% of the original bail. Bounty hunters earn when they are able to track down and arrest the bail jumper. If unsuccessful, they don’t get paid.
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