It can be difficult to find employment as a newly trained bounty hunter. You will need to get experience and prove yourself in the field, which can be difficult. It’s an age-old catch-22: You can’t get the experience without the job, and you can’ t get the job without the experience.
Finding a bail bond agency that will allow you to work with them to build your experience will be key to your success in building a bounty hunter career. You will have better success if you are also able to obtain licenses in related fields, such as bail bonds and private investigation.
Becoming A Bail Bond Agent
To work in the bail bond industry, a person must possess the people skills, compassion, confidence, financial understanding and negotiating skills required to deal with a public who is constantly in crisis. The people you will assist in bail bonds are enduring some of the most difficult moments of their life and you will need to be able to maintain your cool and keep your own business interests in mind, while still helping the public to the best of your ability.
If this is something you believe you could excel at, you might want to consider becoming a bail bond agent.
Becoming A California Bail Bond Agent
In California, the bail bond industry is regulated by the Department of Insurance. Every bail bond that is written must be approved by the DOI. Bail bond agencies and their agents must be licensed by the DOI, as well. The requirements for bail bond licensing include:
- Must be at least 18 years old.
- Have been a resident of California for at least two years.
- Able to pass a criminal background check.
- Not have any felony or misdemeanor convictions.
- Be able to pass the licensing exam.
- Have the sponsorship of a surety (insurance) company.
If you meet the minimum requirements for bail bond licensing, then you are in a position to pursue training and obtain the licenses necessary to become a bail bond agent.
Training & Licensing Requirements For Bail Bond Agents
It is common for bail bond agents to have a strong background in financial fields, as the bail bond industry is, at its heart, a financial management occupation. If you don’t understand money or finance, it will be difficult for you to do well as a bail bondsman.
The Department of Insurance in California requires all potential bail bond agents to take a licensing exam, after the completion of a 20-hour pre-licensing course. The course and the licensing exam will cover sections on licensing, ethics, the laws and regulations governing bail and bail bonds, and the rights of the accused.
Once you are able to pass the state licensing exam and you have the backing of an insurance company that underwrites bail bonds, you are ready to apply for a California State Bail Bond License and actually sit for the licensing exam. Sometimes, in order to build a relationship with an insurance company and prove that you are the type of person they want to represent them, you need to have demonstrable experience in the field. Here we are again with the catch-22: you need experience before they’ll trust you and you need them to trust you to gain experience. Many potential bail bond agents work as interns for an established bail bond company in order to build the experience and relationships necessary to become fully licensed and ready to work on their own.
After you have obtained the backing of an insurance company and feel you are ready to sit for the Commissioner’s exam, you can schedule the 50 questions, 2-hour exam. A 70 is required to pass the exam, but you can take the test as many times as you need to. The background check will be run after the exam is completed.
Once you’ve completed all of these steps, you’re ready to become a bail bond agent in California, a valuable addition to your skills as a bounty hunter.
Private Investigators In California
A private investigators license is an extremely valuable asset when you’re looking for employment as a bounty hunter. Private Investigators, like bounty hunters, need to possess highly developed analytical skills, an aptitude for investigation, patience and an ability to read people. Private Investigators in California have to be licensed and the state doesn’t make it as easy as some other states.
Minimum State Requirements For Private Investigators In California
- Be 18 years old or older.
- Be able to pass an FBI background check as well as a state background check.
- Proof of at least three years of employment in an investigative capacity. (This paid experience must be equal to 2,000 hours per year, or 6,000 hours in total paid experience.)
- Have a law degree or a degree in Political Science PLUS 4,000 hours of paid investigative experience (in addition to the 6,000 hours already required) or have an associates degree in Political Science or Criminal Justice as well as an additional 5,000 hours of compensated investigative experience.
Meeting The Qualified Experience Requirement For Private Investigators
It can tough to meet the State of California’s requirement for investigative experience. First off, the experience must be verifiable and paid. In addition, the experience can only come from a narrow field, including employment as a law enforcement officer, a member of the military police, work as an insurance adjuster, or as an investigator for the public defender’s office or as an arson investigator.
If you have the required experience to obtain a Private Investigator’s license in California, you could bring greater value to any bail bond company who hired you as an agent or a bounty hunter.
Getting Hired As A Bounty Hunter In California
California is currently home to many bail bond agencies who may require the services of a bounty hunter. While current legislation in the State House of Representatives poses a threat to this valuable industry, pursuing employment with a bail bond agency is a good first step toward becoming an experienced bounty hunter.
Once an individual has achieved employment as a bounty hunter there are a few important things to remember:
- A bounty hunter is not a police officer.
- It is illegal for a bounty hunter to misrepresent themselves as a local, state or federal officer of the law.
- It is illegal for a bounty hunter to wear badges or uniforms that would lead a fugitive to assume that the bounty hunter was an officer of the law.
- A bounty hunter must always keep the local law enforcement authorities apprised of their plans to apprehend a fugitive in their district.
- Bounty hunters provide a valuable service to the bail bond industry and to private citizens who have deposited bail on behalf of another person.
A career as a bounty hunter can be a fulfilling one, as long as you’ve thoughtfully considered everything that’s required and know it’s the right choice for you.