A fugitive recovery agent, also called a bail enforcement agent or bounty hunter, tracks, arrests, and returns individuals who have fled from custody. Fugitive recovery agents work independently and are hired by bail bond agencies, which pay them a fee called a bounty, usually a percentage of the fugitive’s original bail.
Fugitive recovery agents may concentrate their work in one geographic location, but many work all over the country and even internationally. Some common job activities include tracking phone calls, tracing license plates, and performing extensive background checks, also known as “skip tracing.”
There are no formal educational requirements for becoming a fugitive recovery agent, but a strong knowledge of apprehension procedures as well as applicable laws is helpful.
An associate or bachelor’s degree in law enforcement or criminal justice can provide an excellent educational foundation for someone wishing to pursue a career as a fugitive recovery agent.
Through courses in criminal justice, criminology, law enforcement, policing, police science, and law and ethics, students can not only increase their own knowledge base but also build a case for demanding higher fees from clients. There are also some state-certified independent schools that offer fugitive recovery agent or bounty hunter certification programs.
As being a fugitive recovery agent can be dangerous, many carry firearms. Accordingly, proper training in firearm usage may be useful; those who wish to carry a firearm, of course, must be properly licensed to do so. Some states, however, prohibit fugitive recovery agents from carrying firearms, so always check your state’s laws for more precise information.
Compensation for fugitive recovery agents varies widely as fees are collected as a percentage of the fugitive’s bail, usually 10%. More dangerous suspects who are more likely to flee are granted higher bail amounts, so the more willing a fugitive recovery agent is to take on the tougher assignments, the more lucrative the job can be.
In any event, the best way for a fugitive recovery agent to be in the upper end of the pay scale is to take on the more dangerous assignments, deliver fugitives in a safe and timely manner, and abide by all applicable laws, rules, and regulations.