There are thousands of legal ways to make money in the United States, and those opportunities aren’t limited to traditional jobs working for someone else. If you are more interested in being your own boss, you are like the owners of the 30.2 million small businesses in the US.
There is nothing more liberating than making a living without answering to those who seem to have little interest in your prolonged success and career sustainability.
There are a nearly endless number of options for the direction your career journey can take, but have you ever considered bounty hunting? The average earnings for a skilled bounty hunter is $80,000, which is pretty great for a career choice that typically requires zero higher education.
If you are interested in the requirements for bounty hunting and bounty hunter tips to help find success in the industry, continue reading through our helpful guide.
What Do Bounty Hunters Do?
Bounty hunters provide a useful service to their communities. When someone is arrested they have to come up with a certain amount of bail money to be released while awaiting trial. Often, these people use bondsmen (or bail bond services), who put up a bail bond to get the person released. In the eyes of the court, this makes the bond company responsible for the potential criminal.
In exchange for the financial aid and responsibility, bondsmen get repaid in installments with interest and fees from the jailed individual or their family.
It is a pretty stellar business model for the bondsman. However, if the person they paid bail on doesn’t show up to court, the bondsman is held responsible and their rates with their insurer can spike through the roof. This is where bounty hunters come in.
The bondsman hire these bounty hunters to track down these bail jumpers in exchange for a percentage of the bail bond amount.
These bounty hunters are similar to private investigators in that they use their tracking skills to locate the bail jumper. However, instead of using their tracking skills to acquire information and tips for an individual or the police, they actually detain and bring in the individual.
What do I Need to Become a Bounty Hunter?
The regulations surrounding the act of bounty hunting vary greatly from state to state. In fact, Oregon, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Illinois have completely outlawed the practice of bounty hunting while some states don’t even require any licensing.
One of our most important bounty hunter tips is to check for the regulations in your specific area or the areas in which you would like to practice your business. Bail bonds and bounty hunting can be highly lucrative and symbiotic positions. Research the laws in multiple prospective areas and determine where you will be in the highest demand and compensated properly.
While we can’t get into the regulations for every single location in the US, here are some basic guidelines that can’t get you started looking in the right direction.
States That Outlaw Bounty Hunting
- District of Columbia
- North Carolina: bounty hunters cannot be freelance. They must work as skilled employees under a bonding agency.
- South Carolina: bounty hunters cannot be freelance. They must work as skilled employees under a bonding agency.
States That Require No Formal Licensing or Training to Be a Bounty Hunter
- New Jersey
Common Requirements and Limitations to Consider
- Age Requirements: Some locations require bounty hunters be 18 while others can go as high as 25.
- Pledges and Oaths: Some states require pledges or oaths be taken similar to officers and sheriff’s deputies.
- Jurisdiction: Remember, if the person you are hunting travels out of your jurisdiction, you have no legal right to arrest them.
- Gun Permits: If your state allows you to carry a gun, you will still need proper licensing and carrying permits.
- Training: Training will be dependent on both your location and the bonding company with which you work.
- Criminal Record: Typically, you will need to have a clean federal background check.
- Citizenship: You will likely need to prove US citizenship.
- Guidelines Implemented by Local Police: Many locations require you to call the police before making any arrests.
Where to Find Work as a Bounty Hunter
The best way to pursue work as a bounty hunter is by creating strong, amicable relationships with bail bondsmen in your area. Depending on where you live, you might find there are quite a few options for bonding services, so where should you look first? One of the best bounty hunter tips is to pay attention to the clients that bondsmen seek.
There are two marketing terms that you should pay attention to: “immediate” and “emergency.” If a bonding service uses these terms on their websites or marketing material, chances are they can provide you with some great leads toward contracts. Here is why:
When bondsmen advertise that they offer emergency bail bonds, they mean they can offer approvals and assistance quickly. Quite often, this is a search being completed by individuals that are more likely to skip bail down the line. This means there are likely more opportunities available for you to take hunting contracts through the bondsmen.
Immediate bail bonds is another marketing term often used by bondsmen offering quick turnarounds and approvals. Just like emergency bonds, this means that the regular clientele will have a higher likelihood of creating chances for you to make some money.
What Will I Need to Be a Good Bounty Hunter?
Being a great bounty hunter involves more than gaining licensing and being good at tracking. There are physical, mental, and general equipment requirements that can greatly improve your success rate. Let’s take a look at some of the things you will need.
Physically, you should strive to be in good shape. One of our most important bounty hunter tips is to remember that arresting criminals is dangerous and any apprehension may turn into a physical altercation. If you are unable to chase, wrestle, and restrain your target, you could be seriously injured. Self defense training is especially important for bounty hunters so you might consider taking up a mixed martial art or other similar activity.
Generally speaking, you will not need formal education above the high school level to become a bounty hunter. However, there are some mental competencies that can make your job a whole lot easier. Observational skills and logical deduction are two talents that every great bounty hunter should have. Any list of bounty hunter tips will tell you that working out your body and mind are the best things you can do to become top in your field. Many top-performing bounty hunters attended some level of college or technical school to help hone their mental sharpness and gain valuable skills.
Equipment and Tools
The equipment required for bounty hunting is fairly similar to private investigators and other niche criminal justice jobs. To start, you will need handcuffs, a cellphone, bullet proof vest, taser, pepper spray, other legal weaponry (gun, baton, etc.), any other tools you find useful to track your targets. Depending on your choice of defense tools and other equipment, the startup cost for bounty hunting can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
One of the more expensive pieces of equipment you will need is a vehicle. These can be decked out with protective grating, GPS devices, storage and other tools, but the most important thing is the vehicle’s reliability. We recommend a vehicle like a truck or SUV that can travel over tough terrain and during inclement weather. You should also consider opting for new trucks for sale over used vehicles because you will be putting a lot of miles on your vehicle and want it to last as long as possible.
Depending on the gear your carry and your means of transportation, you may require specific additional licensing. As we mentioned in previous bounty hunter tips, be certain to look into your local regulations before making any major purchases or decisions.
Getting Your Name Out There
The most seasoned professionals will tell you one of the most important bounty hunter tips is to make sure local bondsmen know who you are. You may want to get your name out there through old school methods like word of mouth marketing , signs and flyers, or direct marketing material. While these methods are all great in some ways, you should consider hiring a marketing consultant to assess your local market for the advertising methods that will work best.
Many bounty hunters have begun marketing exclusively online. This is because digital marketing is much cheaper thanks to pay-per-click ads while still being highly effective. In fact, most modern business is researched through internet searches, so you want to utilize SEO to get your name at the top of those lists.
Though some digital marketing is beginner-friendly, the best method to master the online frontier is by utilizing internet marketing services. These companies can help you isolate your markets online usage and implement marketing campaigns that will reach the right people. This might be through social media, internet searches, webpages, or even email marketing.
Digital Bounty Hunting: Bug Bounties, Legal Hacking, and More
With the advancement of the internet and digital technologies, there has been the creation of a market for bounty hunters online. Some of these bounty hunters utilize hacking and other activities typically against internet law to locate digital criminals. Bug bounty hunters also work in the digital landscape but they don’t track people. Instead, these tech-savvy trackers look for vulnerabilities in businesses’ security systems and report them to the company’s security team.
These positions have cause some controversy regarding the need for stricter regulation. So, if you go this route, remember that you must be invited to take part in these hunting activities. You cannot legally hack a person or company without permission, even if you have good intentions.
One of the most useful bounty hunter tips we can give you is, if you are not sure what you are doing is legal, ask employment lawyers. These legal professionals can tell you if your hiring agent is asking you to participate in illegal practices and protect you during and after any whistleblowing.
Who Would Make a Good Bounty Hunter
You can follow all the bounty hunter tips here, online, and in training manuals, but those who succeed in the field have something unique about them that truly makes them a shoe-in. Good bounty hunters are more than just strong individuals with the right tools. There are some personality traits that translate well to the position.
- Interpersonal Skills: interpersonal skills are the traits a person uses to properly and effectively communicate with others. Those with these skills often come from jobs in education, customer service, or public relations.
- Patience: There is a lot of waiting that goes into bounty hunting. Being able to maintain attention on a specific location or person without distraction is vital to success. These are similar skills found in government positions, healthcare, and childcare.
- Even Temperament: You will be coming into contact with the nefarious type quite often and they aren’t known for being kind and making arrests easy. If you have a short fuse you can end up making poor decisions that will land you in legal trouble. Those coming from the armed forces or other branches of criminal justice often have this trait.
- Ingenuity: Essentially, the more clever you are, the better you will be at bounty hunting. There are no bounty hunter tips that can make up for a lack of wit and clever thinking. people from all walks of life can meet this criteria, but it tends to show itself in the form of a sharp sense of humor.
- Investigative Skills: This may seem obvious, but the best bounty hunters are also fantastic detectives. If these bail jumpers were easy to find, there wouldn’t be a lucrative career for those seeking them. If you aren’t a natural born detective, try taking some classes on criminal behavior and investigative techniques.
Final Thoughts on Bounty Hunting as a Career
Bounty hunting isn’t necessarily the right career for everyone, but to those willing to put in the work it can be fantastic. The salary range is attractive, the requirements attainable, and the work environment is exciting.
If you are interested in getting into the industry, follow our bounty hunter tips and begin your journey with research and a little soul searching. Make sure you have what it takes to get the job done, then focus on getting to know the bail bondsmen in your area.
With the right gear, proper training, and some hard work, you can find bounty hunting to be the perfect career for you.