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Fugitive Recovery Salaries and Hiring Outlook

Since the profession of bounty hunting, or fugitive recovery, is only regulated in about half of the states, the salaries for these professionals can vary significantly. Keep in mind that those with more training and education may be able to command higher pay rates, but bounty hunting is also a profession based on relationships: the relationships you build with bail agents can be just as important as education or training. Read more about the profession of fugitive recovery on our expert interviews page, where you can read our interviews with reputable bounty hunters about their successes and challenges in the field.

How Much Do Bounty Hunters Make?

Because the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not currently report employment data for bounty hunters, we use the data reported for private investigators and detectives as a benchmark. The average salary for private detectives and investigators in 2019 was $57,000.1 The highest-paying states for these professionals were Washington DC ($69,790 per year), California ($68,570 per year), and Delaware ($65,610 per year).1 The states with the lowest average annual salary for private detectives and investigators were Florida ($41,750 per year), Indiana ($42,430 per year), and Oklahoma ($44,180 per year).1

Bounty hunters often supplement their income by taking on work in related fields. Besides private investigation, process serving and skip tracing (tracking down fugitives and others) can be additional sources of income. According to the College Foundation of North Carolina, process servers can make between $10 and $25 per hour.2 The salary for skip tracing can vary, but those who are talented at building relationships in order to track down people who do not want to be found can have high earning potential; according to a special 2012 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, top-earning process servers and skip tracers can earn $70,000 or more per year.3

Fugitive Recovery Salaries by State

The data in the sortable table below will help you benchmark the average salaries for fugitive recovery agents in different states. As noted above, average salaries are based on salaries for private investigators (PIs). The “Best States for PIs” column is calculated by comparing the average salary of private detectives and investigators relative to the cost of living (based on median home price in the state) as well as the projected growth in the occupation over a 10-year span for each respective state.

RankStateUS AverageMay 2019 Avg PI Salary$57,0004Zillow Median Home Value (2020)$263,3516% of Median Home Avg Salary Buys21.6%2018 PIs Employed33,00042028 Projected PIs Employed35,600610-Year Growth (2018-2028)7.9%6Best States for PIs (Avg=1)1
1Wyoming$45,380$258,28018%304033%1.72
2Arkansas*$55,720$140,98640%3033278%1.61
3West Virginia$36,000$110,54433%708014%1.59
4Alabama$57,140$156,26537%2202409%1.55
5Texas$56,190$220,03426%1,6802,00019%1.51
6Mississippi$54,350$131,97341%3203303%1.50
7Missouri$60,890$176,60935%2502708%1.44
8Oklahoma$44,180$139,40932%3203509%1.39
9Kansas$55,380$164,33634%1501607%1.37
10Kentucky*$51,050$156,92633%4494858%1.37
11Washington DC$69,790$666,76711%20026030%1.37
12New Mexico$57,200$224,37426%708014%1.35
13Ohio$49,470$164,96830%1,3301,4509%1.32
14Tennessee$57,960$203,13429%61067010%1.30
15Washington$63,750$458,31314%2,1402,64023%1.26
16South Carolina$54,410$203,32827%20022010%1.25
17Georgia$52,630$218,60924%1,1101,25013%1.24
18Iowa$46,240$157,30829%1601706%1.21
19Maryland$61,730$335,26018%1,8002,11017%1.21
20Illinois$58,710$217,10527%9009708%1.18
21New York$59,100$343,16417%1,8302,11015%1.10
22Nebraska$45,040$189,13924%2402608%1.09
23North Carolina$52,530$220,71024%6106608%1.08
24South Dakota$46,200$222,43521%9010011%1.08
25Delaware*$65,610$277,97924%981068%1.07
26Minnesota$53,925$277,27619%52058012%1.05
27Nevada$64,200$327,71420%18020011%1.04
28Indiana$42,430$169,15625%2302404%1.00
29Florida$41,750$264,14916%3,0303,44014%0.99
30Colorado$53,670$431,10012%38044016%0.96
31Arizona$54,830$303,23018%20022010%0.95
32Alaska*$58,820$296,64620%74798%0.94
33Pennsylvania$47,940$211,28723%1,9202,0205%0.94
34Maine*$53,080$269,75320%1351468%0.93
35Virginia*$55,610$302,36918%8589268%0.89
36Rhode Island*$58,900$331,45818%1071158%0.87
37Utah*$64,440$386,72317%3223488%0.83
38Wisconsin$44,480$207,01822%3303403%0.83
39Connecticut$58,010$281,92421%2903003%0.81
40New Hampshire$58,110$321,49618%1801906%0.80
41Vermont$42,610$273,02416%63688%0.80
42Michigan$48,040$187,74726%830810-2%0.79
43New Jersey$63,970$367,10317%7808205%0.76
44Oregon$57,380$393,71015%3904208%0.75
45Montana*$42,595$313,26114%1071168%0.73
46North Dakota$47,230$236,01220%20200%0.68
47California$68,570$609,75711%3,7004,0008%0.66
48Idaho$60,130$331,12618%50500%0.62
49Massachusetts$52,140$464,27911%5706107%0.62
50Louisiana$49,270$177,54828%510460-10%0.61
51Hawaii*$56,695$667,0059%1421548%0.56

See Table Footnotes at bottom of page.

Additional Resources

Table Footnotes:
1. *Base volume was estimated by using US population, number of PIs and detectives in the US, and the state’s population as known factors. US national projection rate is used for these states as well, and the US national average growth was applied to establish 2028 projected numbers.
2. For states lacking PI salary data from the BLS, an average was used from security guard and police officer salaries instead.

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Private Detectives and Investigators: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes339021.htm
2. College Foundation of North Carolina: https://www2.cfnc.org/careers/
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Spring 2012: https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2012/spring/yawhat.pdf
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcst.htm
5. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
6. Zillow: https://www.zillow.com/ (data from November 2020)