What does a Bounty Hunter do?

Bounty hunters are also known as bail enforcement agents. They assist criminal justice system in pursuing and apprehending fugitives who fail to appear for court proceedings or miss their bail. In some states, bounty hunters are also called fugitive recovery agents. They work as independent contractors and take assignments from bail bond agencies.

Job Description of a Bounty Hunter

  • Bounty hunters are required to adhere to state laws that are applicable to their position.
  • Conduct surveillance and perform stakeout to ascertain fugitive’s location.
  • Collect and investigate information.
  • Identify and capture the fugitive.
  • Interview and interrogate fugitive’s known associates.
  • Hand over fugitive to the authorities.

Being a bounty hunter is a dangerous job and it requires many skills to effectively carry out duties. To become a successful bounty hunter, it’s important to have physical strength, strong communication skills, and keen eye for details.

Education & Career Info

Education RequiredHigh school diploma or equivalent
Training RequiredCompletion of Training Program
Key SkillsInvestigation and Research, Surveillance, Self-defense, Negotiation, Interviewing
Job Growth (2020-2030)2% (Detectives and Criminal Investigators)
Average Mean Salary (2021)$90,370 (Detectives and Criminal Investigators)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020) and O*Net Online

Steps to Become a Bounty Hunter

Due to the dangerous nature of the job, bounty hunters require to be a part of professional training program. They should be able to quickly assess the situation and negotiate with the fugitive if required.

Meet Training Requirements

  • No formal education is required to be a bounty hunter and a simple high school diploma or equivalent is sufficient.
  • Candidates must meet state’s training requirements and can enroll in bail enforcement agent courses.
  • They can also train to become private investigators or bail bond agents.
  • It’s important for aspiring bounty hunters to train in law, surveillance, first aid, firearms, and tactical considerations.

Obtaining Bounty Hunter License

  • Before pursuing bounty hunter license, make sure to check the requirements in your state.
  • Some states require additional experience and have eligibility criteria.
  • There are states that have a separate exam for bounty hunters that includes psychological evaluation.

Meet Additional Requirements & Qualifications

  • Bounty hunters are required to carry firearms and in some areas, valid state permit and additional training is required.
  • Those who run bail bond recovery agency require bounty hunters to have workers compensation insurance.

Start Working as Bounty Hunter

  • It’s important to build a strong relationship with bail bond agents as they give out assignments to bounty hunters.
  • Some bounty hunters are permanently engaged with agencies, others prefer to work independently, on per-case basis.
  • Jobs similar to bounty hunting are private investigators, criminal investigators, fugitive investigators, and detectives.

Bounty Hunter Salary and Career Outlook

Bounty hunters come under the occupational umbrella of Detectives and Criminal Investigators. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual mean salary for criminal investigators including bounty hunters is $ 90,370 (2021). The US Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 2% increase in employment opportunities for Detectives and Criminal Investigators in the US from 2020 to 2030. Below are the top paying states for this occupation in 2021.

 

StateAnnual Mean Wage 
Alaska$ 126,810
District of Columbia$ 123,760
Maryland$ 115,660
Hawaii$ 111,130
Washington$ 108,550

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021)

Below are the states with the highest employment level for bounty hunters.

 

StateEmployment 
Texas16,540
California11,510
New York10,190
Florida6,330
Arizona5,370

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021)