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How to Become a Bail Bondsman in SC in Six Steps

Characters like Emma Swan from Once Upon a Time helped make America’s bail bond system famous.

When you take a closer look at the career itself, there are a number of benefits you won’t find in any other job, like a flexible schedule with good job security and even better earning potential.

Thinking of becoming a bail bondsman? Wondering how to become a bail bondsman in SC? Keep reading for six steps to start your new career.

How to Become a Bail Bondsman in SC

The good news?

Unlike many other careers in law and financial services, you don’t need an advanced degree to become a bail bondsman. You just have to know the right steps.

1. Know the Types of Bail Bond License

It starts with knowing the types of bail bond license you can receive, which will change the type of bail bondsman you become.

In South Carolina, there are three types of bondsman licenses:

  1. Professional bail bondsman
  2. Surety bail bondsman
  3. Runner bail bondsman

In addition, there’s also an accommodation bail bondsman, which doesn’t require a license. You can hold one or two licenses, depending on your qualifications.

Professional Bail Bondsman

A professional bail bondsman pledges approved securities or cash with the clerk of court. This cash or approved securities acts as security for bail bonds, which are written in connection with a certain judicial proceeding.

In exchange for the pledge, the bondsman receives money or other things of value.

Surety Bail Bondsman

A surety bondsman is slightly different than a regular bail bondsman, because surety bonds are a slightly different type of bond.

Surety bonds are agreements in which one party (surety), guarantees to another party (the obligee) that a third party (the principal) will perform an obligation even in the face of certain risks. Court bonds are typically a type of surety bond.

A surety bondsman is licensed as an insurance agent and appointed via power of attorney by an insurer to execute bail bonds for the insurer in connection to legal proceedings.

In plain English, when an insurer is involved in legal proceedings, they can call on a surety bondsman to make sure that bail bonds are executed, thus ensuring that a court proceeding can continue according to plan.

Runner Bondsman

Finally, there’s a runner bondsman, who is employed by a professional or surety bondsman.

Basically, their job is to help the bondsman ensure that the defendant shows up to the appointed court date. They can use a variety of means to do this, including placing the defendant under the appropriate surveillance and assisting in the apprehension of the defendant to the court.

Runners are known to the general public by their colloquial name: bounty hunters.

2. Meet the Basic Requirements

Once you know what type of bail bondsman you’d like to become, it’s time to start pursuing your license.

Regardless of the specific type of bondsman you’d like to become, you have to meet certain state-mandated requirements.

  • You must be a legal resident of South Carolina
  • You must be at least 18
  • You cannot have any felony convictions in the past 10 years
  • You cannot have any charges of “moral turpitude” in the past 10 years
  • You must be of good moral character

Essentially, you have to be a legal adult, a legal resident of the state, and you must be someone who the state can trust to make sound decisions when executing a bond.

3. Fulfill Your Educational Requirements

If you meet those basic requirements, it’s time to move on to the next step: your educational requirements.

The South Carolina Insurance Department, which licenses all bail bondsmen in the state, requires all would-be bail bondsmen to complete an approved course of study through one of their educational sponsors.

Regardless of the provider, the course should provide at least 20 hours of study for professional bondsmen and at least 60 hours of study for surety bondsmen. Upon completion, you’ll need a certificate of completion, which you’ll need to present in order to take the exam.

4. Choose a County

Before you can take the exam, though, you’ll need to decide what county you wish to work in.

When you get licensed, you get licensed to write bonds in a specific county. This county constitutes your “territory” in which you can write bonds. You can choose several different counties, but you’ll have to pay yearly fees in each county you want to write bonds in.

With that in mind, choose your county with care. A sparsely-populated county that doesn’t have many arrests won’t be as profitable for you since you won’t have many opportunities to write bonds.

5. Taking the Exam

Once you know what county you want to work in, you’re ready to take the exam.

If you did well in your course, then you should be prepared to ace the exam. The test consists of 60 questions to be completed in 65 minutes and requires a $45 registration fee.

The score is good for 12 months after you take the test, but if you’re serious about becoming a bondsman and your score is good, there’s no reason to wait around.

6. Applying for Your License

Once you’ve passed the exam, you’re ready for the last step: applying for your license.

You’ll have to pay a licensing fee of $400 for professional bondsmen and $200 for runners. In addition, you’ll have to submit:

  • Proof of your pre-licensing course
  • Your exam score
  • A recent passport-size photo
  • Proof of net worth

You’ll also have to register for fingerprinting.

From there, you wait. The South Carolina Department of Insurance will mail your approval or denial.

Ready to Start a Bail Bonds Business?

Now that you know how to become a bail bondsman in SC, what are you waiting for? A rewarding new career is waiting for you.

For more tips for aspiring bondsmen, check out our blog for more tips, like this post on the nine things that every experienced bail bondsman knows.