How to Become a Bounty Hunter

So, you happen to be an adrenaline junkie who wants to turn your addiction into a rewarding career?

Becoming a Bounty Hunter is definitely one way to do this. But before you start apprehending real life criminals, you’ll want to make sure you know what you’re doing. Bounty Hunting is most often called bail enforcement or fugitive recovering by those who take this craft seriously. Lets look at what it takes to be a bounty hunter (aka fugitive recovery agent / aka bail enforcement agent).

Where to Start

Figuring out a starting point is going to depend widely on the individual. Most people will want to look up the requirements for being a bounty hunter with State law. Many states have different prerequisites for being qualified for this job. Some states don’t allow bounty hunting – for example Kentucky rules out bounty hunting of any form so residents of this state are completely out of luck when it comes to this career path.

Helpful Tip – Check out our bounty hunter state guide to make sure you’re following all the rules.

A Bounty Hunter’s Education

For those who are just graduating High School, the first place to start would be an education. Although a degree is not necessary to become a licensed bounty hunter, many professionals in the craft would agree that a college education is a sound baseline to becoming a successful bounty hunter. Many aspiring bounty hunters get their degree in criminal justice, with some business and/or marketing classes mixed in. Yes, bounty hunting is a business, so relevant classes can be an essential part of a bounty hunter’s tool chest.

Hint: taking online classes is a smart way to get your education out of the way while you train for real world skills and techniques. We offer school recommendations right here on the site if you’re interested in that path.

Bottom line: never stop educating yourself. There will always be a plethora of ways to improve and hone your skills as a bounty hunter, and keeping up to date with modern techniques is essential.

Training at a Glance

If you don’t have any training then you will want to look for schools and possibly a mentor. There are many schools that offer the weapons training necessary to become a bail enforcement agent. In popular movies and television, bounty hunters are represented as lone wolfs who find out which criminals need to be taken in. However, this is a purely old fashion representation of the job. The job of the bounty hunter is actually given through bail bondsmen in most circumstances. This means that most to all of your bounties will come from people who have skipped on a bail. Talking to a bail bondsmen or someone in the industry would be key to success.

Helpful Traits to Possess Beforehand

Most bounty hunters will want to be of stockier build. Apprehending a criminal is going to take manpower and a lack of this trait may put the bounty hunter in danger. Having brawn is going to be a big part of this trade. This career has a large possibility of physical altercation and may even take firepower to finish the job. Having weapons training of some sort is ideal. Some bounty hunters used to be policemen and already require much of the training necessary to get the job done. Your personality should reflect that of an outstanding citizen. If the aspiring bounty hunter does not have respect for the law then this career is not for them.

A Bounty Hunter’s Salary Expectations

There is almost no way to calculate an average salary for this type of career. Many people are bounty hunters for a part time job and some extra income. This means there are no guarantees when it comes to how much cash is available. This is a career that pays well given a performance which reflects a high standard.

Many people who are bounty hunters are also bail bondsmen. This means there main income comes from writing bails and their secondary income comes from catching the people who skip out on bail. Being a bounty hunter can be extremely rewarding for those who take all things considered.

Getting Your First Job as a Bounty Hunter

Although bounty hunting today is not as violent as it once might have been, there is obvious danger, so be prepared for it. Use protective gear and weapons at your own discretion, and always contact authorities when you make an arrest. Many times they will be glad to assist.

And most importantly, do not expect to make a living bounty hunting right off the bat. Keep you day job until you build your business. There are some would be Bounty Hunters that never get a job because they are not aggressive enough. Start off slowly and learn the tools of the trade before going full time.

We’ve already talked about a few tools you’ll use as a bounty hunter, but another one I want to talk about more in depth is skip tracing.

Modern Bounty Hunting

Many people have heard about bounty hunting through movies such as Star Wars or the popular television show Dog the Bounty Hunter. It may look like a lot of fun, and it can be but one must keep up with modern technology. A lot of people will talk about a skill called skiptracing which is a huge part of bounty hunting although the terms are not interchangeable with the job title itself.

Skiptracing is the art of tracking down an individual with less direct methods than pursuit and apprehension. There are a lot of new technologies with computers that enable a bounty hunter to find a more precise location in which to look for a suspect. Keeping current with these types of technologies is essential for choosing this career. The same way the most current lethal firearms will be best for protection, the most lethal computer technology will be best for making the job easier.

Marketing and Networking

Networking is everything in the business of fugitive recovery. Once you are properly trained to do the job you will want to market your services so you can collect as many bounties as possible. If you are not well versed in marketing yourself and your services, then it’s a good idea to learn. This is where some extra marketing and business classes often-times come in handy.

For someone who is working conjointly with the bail bondsmen, they will want to be able to find the best bounties for making their time worth it. Having a high percentage of successful bounties will make it easier for bondsmen to trust the bounty hunter to do the job. A bail bondsmen can not afford to lose his/her bounty because it means paying a large sum of money to the jail institution. Building relationships is huge. Networking within communities is very important because cooperative information will make it much easier to maneuver without being in danger.

Your Reputation In The Bounty Hunter Business Is Everything

Having a good reputation in your area, with different bail bondsmen, and the like is very important to the success of your bounty hunter career. You must also work to create a long standing relationship with law enforcement stakeholders in the area and earn their respect and consideration. Even though the law is uniform in every case, each jail and court has their own particular way that they prefer things done. They have their own constraints as far as staffing and workload and appreciate when they are dealing with a professional bail bond agent that knows how to do their job. Mentors can help you with your cases and provide professional experience professional that can be of great value

Research and Dedication

Research and dedication are going to be primary factors for someone who may want to do this as a career or as a part time job. Finding out what is required will be an easy task for anyone who is serious about the job. Some states require licenses and some require wearing clothing. Finding this information is extremely important. (Fortunately we’ve made it easy for you in our state guide).

Many of the aspects of Bounty Hunting will be similar to police enforcement. Both of these careers will take diligence and intelligent moves to make sure the process goes smoothly.

Understanding and Implementation

Bounty hunting is indeed cool. There is a lot of awesomeness involved in this career but the rewards will come for anyone who is able to demonstrate self discipline. Being a bounty hunter is like being a private investigator combined with being a Ninja Turtle. There might be a lot of adrenaline involved but there is also a lot of paperwork. Being able to track anything from phone records to old personal information will be necessary to find a suspect. Social networking is also a big part of every day life and will be something of grave importance when tracking someone quickly. This will take a lot of work but being a bounty hunter is a rewarding career for many who possess the brawn and brains to get the job done.