How to become a bounty hunter (with pictures)

How to become a bounty hunter (with pictures)
How to become a bounty hunter (with pictures)

Bounty hunters, professionally known as those who recover fugitives or as law enforcement officers, track down fugitives who do not show up in court in exchange for a percentage (usually 75%) of the amount of the fine. While this can be a lucrative business (an experienced bounty hunter can earn anywhere from $ 50,000 to $ 80,000 per year in the United States), it is also dangerous. If you are thinking of becoming a bounty hunter, here is a rundown of what you will need to do.


Part 1 of 3: fulfill the conditions

Become a Bounty Hunter Step 1

Step 1. Check the laws of the state in which you live

In the United States, bounty hunting is supported by the 1872 Supreme Court case Taylor v Taintor, but regulations vary from state to state. In yours, this may be illegal or you may need to obtain a specific permit. The professional organization that represents this industry is the National Association of Fugitive Recovery Agents [1]. Information can be obtained online or with a simple call to your local police department, courthouse or during a visit to a friendly guarantor.

  • It's a good idea to review the legal requirements for neighboring states or neighboring countries, since you might not be able to track a suspect without meeting those requirements.
  • In most places other than the United States, the activities of a surety (pledging money or property as surety to secure an accused's appearance in court, in exchange for a fee from that defendant) are illegal, which eliminates the role of the bounty hunter. If you cross international borders in pursuit of a fugitive, your actions as a bounty hunter could get you arrested.

    In fact, the only two countries that use commercial bonds are the United States and the Philippines. This is just one of the many laws that only the United States has

Become a Bounty Hunter Step 2

Step 2. Pass a background check

Let's be honest here: in some places Hobo Joe on the street could be a bounty hunter (he would never be suspected, that's for sure). But in other cases, you may need to go through a background check. If you are not a convicted felon, that will be a piece of cake.

You think of Dog Chapman, that guy in Hawaii who has that bounty hunter TV show, right? Yes, of course, he's a convict, but have you noticed that he doesn't apprehend criminals himself and doesn't carry a gun? You want to carry a gun, right? And make the arrests yourself?

Become a Bounty Hunter Step 3

Step 3. Obtain a Firearms License

Again, it all depends on where you live. But if you want to travel across the country, you better have one. The more "permissions" you have in general, the better.

Every state is different, so it's impossible to tell you how to do this. You can get a gun license in Minnesota, Massachusetts, Georgia and the list goes on and on. We can cover all your needs up to firearms

Become a Bounty Hunter Step 4

Step 4. Be of legal age

You must be 18 years old. No one is going to let a One Direction fan chase a murderer in the middle of the night.

Become a Bounty Hunter Step 5

Step 5. Get certified

Okay, so some states require a permit or certificate. You got it, right? If you live in a state that requires certification, beware of schools that are just outright scams. Do your research ahead of time to make sure you are spending the money on something that will actually pay off in the long run. Are you wondering about your condition at the moment? Here is a list of states that do not require certification:

  • Hawaii
  • Alaska
  • Montana
  • Idaho
  • Wyoming
  • Kansas
  • Minnesota
  • Michigan
  • Alabama
  • Pennsylvania
  • Maryland
  • Vermont
  • Maine
  • Delaware
  • Rhode Island

    It's totally illegal in Oregon, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Illinois, and Nebraska, at least for now. Laws are subject to change every two years

Part 2 of 3: Finding work

Become a Bounty Hunter Step 6

Step 1. Find a mentor

You know how famous all these famous people are because they have famous dads or famous brothers or because they bumped into someone once and made a miserable taped tape? Well, to break into the bounty hunting industry, you have to have a "twist" on the inside too. Find someone in the field who will protect you. You have to learn the ropes in some way!

This is especially true if your state does not require certification or licensure. You have to prove that you know what you are doing and that you can do the job required of you. Finding a mentor and building your name is the best way to do it

Become a Bounty Hunter Step 7

Step 2. Go to college

No, you don't have to have a college degree to be a bounty hunter, but it's a hell of a good idea. You'll also get more respect from your fellow bounty hunters if you do. Not to mention plan B when the cases are rare and distant.

It is a good idea to major in psychology, sociology, or criminology if you are serious about this field. Putting yourself in the shoes of your "fugitive" is imperative to find him and you will be more likely to be the first chosen to retrieve the fugitives! Between you and the guy with his simple bac, who are they going to send to the hunt?

Become a Bounty Hunter Step 8

Step 3. Obtain some materials

By material, I mean… well, weapons, etc. You will likely have a gun (if you can be trusted), handcuffs and possibly pepper spray and whatever else you would like to have in your utility belt. Like a Boy Scout, you better be prepared.

You may need to wear clothing to identify yourself as a bounty hunter, depending on what state you are in. While some will let you look like Joe Schmo, others will require you to be a little less low-key

Become a Bounty Hunter Step 9

Step 4. Obtain reliable transportation

If you just received the information that a criminal fled to Seattle while on the east coast, how are you going to get there? Your best bet is to jump on a plane and hire a car. Because of this, you'll need a little nest egg to get started.

For local cases, you will just need a reliable car. For local cases and everything in between, you'll need a little bit of money to get started. You will not get paid until you successfully apprehend your criminal so your initial expenses will be out of your own pocket

Become a Bounty Hunter Step 10

Step 5. Talk to guarantors

These guys are your bread and butter. The more you hang out with them, the better off you will be. Approach them on a friendly basis (Wednesday night poker tournament, maybe?) And they'll keep your name in mind for the next "fugitive" who leaves town.

Everyone is new to the game of bounty hunting at one point or another. If you have to do some contracts for free, so be it. Not only will you gain experience, but you will show that you are capable, true to your word and that you have what it takes

Become a Bounty Hunter Step 11

Step 6. Sell yourself

It is a profession that relies heavily on word of mouth. You won't exactly hand out business cards at the local lottery that say, "John Smith, expert bounty hunter." Calm your ardor. So get to know your surety's network. Make your hole yourself. Ask and prove.

It is only about network. What's important is who you know, not what you know, okay? While you should be developing your skills at this stage too, communication should be one of them

Become a Bounty Hunter Step 12

Step 7. Find customers

Contact a surety organization (guarantor) and offer your services. As a bounty hunter, you are independent and like any independent professional, you must promote and market your services. You will likely receive a phone call at any time of the day, asking you to follow up on a notification on the spot. Get ready !

If you get an assignment, make a copy of the "bail document" (which indicates that the person is on the run) and, if necessary in your state, a certified copy of the bail so that if you find the fugitive, you can stop him. You will also need a power of attorney, which gives you the power to arrest the fugitive on behalf of the surety's surety

Become a Bounty Hunter Step 13

Step 8. Practice apprehending and delivering fugitives safely

Training in military skills, law enforcement and / or self-defense will be essential for your ability to do your job as safely as possible. You will have more confidence in your skills and will be able to say what you are capable of if someone asks you to.

  • Being as complete as possible is in your best interest. If you are a Jedi who reads minds and is good at karate, great! But if you're a Jedi who reads minds, is good at karate, jiujitsu, parkour, and can pick locks, that's fantastic.
  • Due to the nature of your job, having law enforcement training is very, very good. If you can find a course, you better take it! Your local university probably has something to offer, but the police department can easily direct you.
Become a Bounty Hunter Step 14

Step 9. Understand the risks involved

Every fugitive is considered armed and dangerous and in some states you may not be able to bear arms. There is also the possibility that the person concerned may seek revenge after you have caught them, whether or not they are convicted. At the same time, think about the fact that the most violent criminals don't go out on bail, and most of the fugitives who are captured by bounty hunters don't have much resistance.

Part 3 of 3: find your fugitive

Become a Bounty Hunter Step 15

Step 1. Sharpen your investigative skills

You will have to play the vigilante, the policeman and the investigator. While being able to physically manage someone is part of this job, managing them mentally is much larger. To find someone who shies away from the law, you need to know how:

  • Detect the lies
  • Trace the fugitive
  • To negotiate
  • Access and analyze telephone records
  • Digging into a person's past
  • Ask friends and family
  • … and do whatever it takes to find a fugitive
Become a Bounty Hunter Step 16

Step 2. Do a thorough research

Search databases of addresses, phone numbers (trace calls, too), license plate numbers, and Social Security numbers to figure out where the fugitive might be, then go for it! Stake out the area: Sometimes it can take hours or days, so sleep now!

  • Look for “Judas”: someone who has been betrayed by the fugitive and who might be willing to report him (perhaps a drug dealer, ex-girlfriend, etc.).
  • Have motel concierges and the like to call you if the fugitive shows up with weapons.

    That is why it is better to know a lot of people. The more “favors” you can ask for, the better. When you work, you actually rely heavily on the people in your path to lead you to your goal

Become a Bounty Hunter Step 17

Step 3. Use the element of surprise

Many bounty hunters show up in the middle of the night or pose as a delivery guy. Avoid physical confrontation - not only is it safer for you to act this way, but you need to get the fugitive back in good shape because prisons won't accept him with broken bones or big bruises. Handcuff the suspect and take him to jail in the county where he was arrested.

  • If you find the fugitive, you can enter his house unexpectedly, but only after you establish that this person is living there. The house of a mother, girlfriend or uncle does not matter.
  • You don't have to read his rights to the fugitive before arresting him, as we do with other criminals.
Become a Bounty Hunter Step 18

Step 4. Realize that acting calmly can prevail

Not every case will present a cross country race that will be synonymous with weeks spent in seedy hotels. You will probably get back the young girl who bit her husband in a moment of anger. In such cases, you might just be able to talk to her normally. You, the bounty hunter. The skill here is who will react logically and reasonably and who will not.

Some cases will be handled by phone. If you can convince the fugitive that it is best for them to come to you, they may. However, this is a rare scenario. What you need to know is that anything can happen. He could be surprisingly cooperative, or he could cost you a week of your life and wear out tank after tank of gas while running away from you. At least this career will be full of surprises

Become a Bounty Hunter Step 19

Step 5. Charge for your services

If you've successfully apprehended your guy, it's time to go back to the surety to collect your paycheck. You can charge it for any expenses you incurred during your hunt. If he's a good guy, he'll pay you off quickly and in full.

Due to the nature of this job, your income will be incredibly variable. It will be feast or famine, really. If you can handle the instability and the days at home, now you are on your way to becoming the next successful bounty hunter


  • If you are inexperienced, you might have a hard time convincing an agency to allow you to prosecute a fugitive on their behalf. Ideally, you should find a successful bounty hunter to be your mentor before going it alone.
  • This list contains links to official government sites regarding bounty hunters.

    • Delaware - Bounty Hunter / Bail Enforcement Agents
    • Louisiana - Bail Bond Licensing Requirements / Bounty Hunter (PDF)
    • New Jersey - Bounty Hunter Information and Updates
    • Texas - Department of Public Safety, Bounty Hunter Information
    • Washington - Bail bond recovery agent


  • Note that in most countries other than the United States, being a bounty hunter is illegal and you will be arrested (see the Chapman case).
  • Despite being the star bounty hunter of a popular reality show, Duane "Dog" Chapman, is a convict: he is more the exception than the rule. Typically, convicts do not become successful bounty hunters, because of licensing or certification requirements. Even if there are no such requirements in a particular state, bond agencies are reluctant to work with convicts because it creates greater accountability.

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