As of 2019, the latest prison review sits at around 2,068,800 prisoners. With numbers like that, a career as a bail agent seems to be a wise and stable option.
Bail agents are utilized if someone’s arrested but doesn’t have the money to pay the bond amount set. And, without posting bail, you’re spending your time in jail until your court hearing. This isn’t ideal for the arrested or the judicial system.
This is where a bail bond agent can step in and save the day.
This article discusses everything from the bail enforcement agent salary to the necessary steps for applying to this career. So keep reading if you’re considering a new and noble career move.
What Is a Bail Bondsman?
If you’re considering becoming a bail agent, it’s essential to understand what they do and how the bail system works. As we briefly covered, a bail bond agent steps in to pay the bond on behalf of the accused when they can’t afford the bond on their own.
The bail process is complex but straightforward. Once someone’s arrested, they’re provided with a hearing date by the court, and if deemed necessary, a bail amount is set.
This is where it becomes a bit more involved. The bail amount can depend on a couple of factors:
- The seriousness of the alleged committed crime
- The laws regarding standard bail practices
- The accused’s past criminal record
- The accused’s employment status
- Whether the accused is a “flight risk” or has ties to the community
Once the bail amount is set and the defendant can’t make the payment themselves, they enlist the help of a bail bond agency or bail agent. That agency or agent will post the bail on their behalf and then ensure the defendant shows up to all appointed court appearances.
Depending on how the defendant manages their court hearings, the bail is handled as follows:
- If the accused skips bail but is brought back to the courts by a bounty hunter within a grace period, the money is returned
- If the accused skips bail with no return, the bail money goes to the courts
In the event that the court claims the bail, the bond agent or agency recoups this money from a friend or family member of the accused. As of 2020, the median bail is set at around $10,000 for felonies in the United States.
The Low Down on the Bail Enforcement Agent Salary
There’s no shame in admitting you want to know if your chosen career includes a decent salary. After all, everyone deserves to make a living wage. So let’s get right into it and look at the potential income you can make as an independent bail bond agent or working for a bail bond agency.
The average bail enforcement agent salary across the USA is $41,899 as of 2022. However, this salary can increase to approximately $52,000 in some cities or states. However, like every job, factors to be considered can affect the final paycheck.
For example, education, additional skills, certifications, and the number of years of experience you might have can all impact the potential income.
In Virginia, the average salary doesn’t differ too much from the overall median and is reported to sit around $41,647. Like many careers, there are opportunities to earn further bonuses, which you can expect to be approximately 1.4% of your gross salary.
Of course, there are other benefits to this career choice. Additional benefits can include one or more of the following:
- Social Security
- Time off
If you live in cities like Dallas and Denver, however, your potential earnings can increase to an average of $58,782. That’s 33% higher than the U.S. average income.
Bounty Hunter vs. Bail Bond Agent
While a bail agent can become a bounty hunter if their client skips bail, it’s also possible to act solely as a bounty hunter as your career move. The earning potential for bounty hunters primarily depends on the commission paid by the bail agency and can be anywhere between $1,000 to $2,500 on a $10,000 bond.
Thus, if a bounty hunter returns a fugitive with a $200,000 bond outstanding, $20,000 to $50,000 can potentially be earned in commission.
Getting an Initial Licence
When looking to switch to or begin a career as a bail enforcement agent, there are minimum eligibility requirements that you need to meet before you can be successful in your application for a bail enforcement license.
If applying in the state of Virginia, the minimum requirements needed to become a bail agent are:
- Must be 18 years or older
- Must be a USA citizen or lawful permanent resident with proof of address
- Must have a valid high school diploma or a GED
- Attended a private security school that’s accredited or licensed and completed all initial training requirements (including 70% minimum passing grade on the exam)
It’s customary that your biometrics (fingerprints, etc.) will be captured at the time of application.
Fees: Application & Exam
Fees might differ depending on where you apply. But in Virginia, you can be looking at around $183.00 for a bail bond runner, $263.00 for a surety bail bondsman, and $263.00 to apply to be a professional bail bondsman.
There’s also a minor fee to reserve your place in the final exam of $56.50.
Getting a Renewal Licence
To keep your bail enforcement license active, you need to adhere to a few conditions. A bail bond license is valid for 2 years. After your second year is complete, you’ll need to do the following to renew your license for another 2 years:
- Complete 3-8 hours of in-service training each year
- Adhere to the requirements, as stated in the Code of Virginia § 9.1-185.6
- Resubmit an application, and your biometrics
Of course, you need to complete this all before the original license expires, or you’ll have to begin again from scratch.
Begin a Bail Enforcement Career Today
Whether you want to work for an agency or start your own bail bond business, choosing a career as a bail agent is an admirable choice. You have the ability to assist people who are in need at a desperate time. But by also ensuring the client arrives at all their court hearings, you’re helping out the judicial system.
If the bail enforcement agent salary sounds acceptable to you, then start your business today. Visit our website for more information and to apply directly.