Although some people may entertain glamorous ideas about this profession, being a bounty hunter is very serious business. Bail enforcement agents (aka “bounty hunters”) perform very exciting but dangerous duties. It is their job to find, apprehend and bring back people who have jumped bail—i.e., people who, although released after qualifying for bail, are most probably guilty of very serious crimes.
Needless to say, these fugitives do not want to get caught; some of them may even be willing to kill in order to keep their freedom.
What You Need in Order to Become a Bounty Hunter
According to Aaron Ahmadi, 4 basic things you need to become a bounty hunter are: a. An intimate knowledge of the laws that apply to people wanted by the authorities; b. Being in great mental/physical shape; c. Having great connections with bail/bonding agents; and d. Being ready to “go for it.” While abiding by/complying with these factors may indeed be important, there is much more to becoming a bounty hunter.
For starters, consider obtaining an education in criminal/forensic sciences. By going for an associate’s in criminalistics, for example, you can avoid ignorantly breaking laws in trying to do some good; you can also use a career in bounty hunting as a stepping stone to other exciting job opportunities (including in law enforcement). You may even pursue a law degree some day.
You must also consider whether you meet some basic requirements:
- Can you pass stringent background checks?
- Would you qualify/be ready for a gun permit (since this may be a requirement in some states)?
- Would you be willing to travel or be on the road for long periods of time?
- Are you ready to learn the hundreds of different skills bounty hunters must master, including:
- Conducting background checks.
- Tracking people using financial transactions, phone records, etc.
- Following relatives and friends to see if they lead you to the suspect.
- Defend yourself if necessary, using minimum force but, at the same time, being prepared to use lethal weapon, if absolutely necessary.
- Establishing good rapport with local bail/bonding agencies and law enforcement departments.
- Using social security numbers, birth certificates, death/marriage records, etc., in finding-suspects investigations.
- Using the new tools social media provides in order to track people, find out who their contacts are, and what they are up to.
What Are the Rules/Regulations That Apply in Your State?
Whether you qualify to become a bounty hunter heavily depends on what your particular state allows/bans. The states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Oregon and Kentucky, for example, have, in essence, outlawed commercial bonding.
Meanwhile, the states of Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina have significantly restricted who can become a bounty hunter and under what conditions.
A number of other states (Nevada, Indiana, Mississippi, South Dakota, etc.) require that bounty hunters be licensed and that they follow very rigorous protocols. Some of the Draconian requirements include: being a US citizen; being over 18; having to pass special classes and exams; etc.
How much a bounty hunter makes depends on how many bail jumpers he/she can capture per year. Catching just one such perpetrator with a $100,000 bond, for example, can net the Bail Enforcement Agent $10,000. Your total compensation is purely linked to the work you’re willing to complete to get the criminal.
Becoming a bounty hunter, while it may sound exciting and adventurous, is not for the faint of heart, those who hate confrontations, or those who are not willing to do their homework thoroughly before attempting to embark on this career. If, however, you have what it takes, “bounty hunter” can be financially rewarding, as well as an opportunity to do much good for society.
The main drawbacks of being a bounty hunter are possibly getting hurt, constantly watching out for suspects holding grudges, and being away from home for long periods of time. On the other hand, benefits can include a large annual salary, the chance to work with law enforcement professionals, and the opportunity to put away dangerous criminals.