What comes to mind when you think of a career as a bail agent?
Maybe you have a fascination with courthouses and the criminal justice system. Perhaps you have experience with social work or building a rapport with those interested in turning over a new leaf.
To keep things interesting, maybe you daydream about the occasional foot chase or fugitive pursuit. But, unlike what you may see on television, bail agents are real professionals that can maintain a consistent and rewarding career.
Are you hungry for more professional guidance than what eight seasons of Dog the Bounty Hunter has provided so far? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Read on for all the information.
What to Expect As a Bail Agent
Bail agents (also unofficially known as “bail enforcement agents” or “bounty hunters” in some pop culture references) assist in releasing their clients from jail by providing the funds to post either criminal or civil bail amounts.
On the client relations side, bail agents are responsible for holding defendants accountable for court appearances.
If you find yourself needing to apprehend a fugitive that has skipped bail, you will typically earn a contingency fee. This is usually about 10% to 15% of the value of the bail bond.
Perks of the Job
With the proper education and experience, bail agent jobs can be lucrative and exciting.
Those who are interested in breaking into the bail bonds business can consider the following perks:
- Flexible, non-traditional hours
- An average annual bail agent salary of $36,044 to $100,000
- Job security – high demand for bail agents in most states
- Exciting workdays in local courthouses, jails, and potentially time on the road
- The opportunity to make a difference in your community
- Opportunities to invest in a long-term career
If these elements sound interesting to you, we recommend reviewing the most common bail agent qualifications and the requirements to become a bail agent in Virginia. The entire process can be completed within a few months, as long as you stay on track.
Bail Agent Job Requirements
Bail agent requirements will depend on the state you intend to maintain licensure.
In the state of Virginia, these requirements include:
- American citizenship or permission to work as a legal resident alien
- Minimum age of 18
- Ability to pass a criminal background check with no felonies in the last ten years
- A high school diploma or GED equivalent
- Completion of a licensed private security training school program
- Minimum of 70% on your final bail bondsman exam
Upon completing the final exam, most licensing applications will require fingerprints and appropriate documentation with the Department Of Insurance (DOI). Once you are licensed, your licensure should remain valid for two years before requiring renewal. Licenses must be renewed before licensure expiration.
4 Simple Steps to Becoming a Virginia Bail Agent
Once you have completed your research and have determined that you meet all of the necessary qualifications, it’s time to get started in completing all mandatory steps of the licensure process. In the state of Virginia, there are four general items to meet before you can join or create your own business.
Complete the Initial Application
Once you have confirmed to have met all of the mandatory qualifications (see above), you may submit your initial application and pay any associated fees. These fees are typically non-refundable, so make sure you are proceeding with confidence!
If you are interested in acquiring a Bail Bondsman Firearm Endorsement, now is the time to complete the application. This licensure may require practical firearm tests as well as a written exam and firearm safety course.
Finally, during this step, you will need to schedule an appointment to be fingerprinted and background-checked. Remember, your record will need to be free of felonies within the last ten years.
Complete Minimum Training Requirements
Criminal justice or business majors may find themselves heading toward a career as a bail agent. This, however, is not a requirement.
While you may not need a college degree, bail agents must complete core training to register for their licensure exam. The Bail Bondsman Entry Level Core Training is a 40-hour requirement to get started and will cover:
- Ethical standards
- Code of Virginia and Regulations
- Basic law
- Surety and property law
- Court education and conduct
- Fugitive recovery education
Firearm training will require additional coursework and DCJS-approved testing. Continuing education may also be a requirement, depending on the state you are practicing in.
Complete Licensure Exam
After core training, an aspiring bail agent will need to pass their Bail Bondsman Licensing Exam. Any improper use of notes or evidence of cheating will result in an automatic failure.
Apply for Licensure in Virginia
Steps and documentation of this step may vary, depending on the type of bail bondsman licensure you are applying for. However, you will be required to start with submitting the Initial Bail Bondsman License Application for all types.
The following non-refundable fees will be required upon licensure application. They are usually paid by check or money order to the Treasurer of Virginia.
The fees include:
- Licensing fee – $900
- Category fee (for Surety Bail Bondsman only) – $100
- Criminal history processing fee – $25
- Fingerprinting – $50
- Firearms Endorsement Application fee (if applicable to your situation) – $30
You will need to upload all supporting documents to prove that you have completed your education and examination requirements. Additionally, you will be asked to provide any supplemental criminal history results to verify your eligibility.
Join a Virginia Bail Bonds Agency
Remember, you don’t have to go about your bail agent career as a lone wolf. Joining a network of like-minded bail agents can help direct your professional life into a supported, life-long endeavor. As a member of an agency, you will have access to priceless resources, business recommendations, and marketing strategies to elevate your career.
If you have questions about setting up your business, maintaining records, posting bonds, handling forfeitures, or client relations, contact the Amistad & Associates team for career guidance today.