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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 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 detectives and investigators as a benchmark. The average salary for private detectives and investigators in 2016 was $53,530.1 The highest-paying states for these professionals were Washington DC ($74,760 per year), Virginia ($73,390 per year), and Washington ($65,310 per year).1 The states with the lowest average annual salary for private detectives and investigators were South Dakota ($29,500 per year), Arkansas ($34,900 per year), and New Mexico ($36,640 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 detectives and investigators. The “Best States for Private Detectives and Investigators” 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 2014 Avg PI Salary$52,880Zillow Median Home Value (12/2015)$183,000% of Median Home Avg Salary Buys29%2012 PIs Employed30,0002022 Projected PIs Employed33,30010-Year Growth (2022 versus 2012)11%Best States for PIs (Avg=1)1
1Tennessee$53,760$129,40042%24032033%1.88
2Arkansas**$51,390$113,80045%4000480020%1.63
3Nebraska$66,800$139,50048%40045013%1.51
4Alabama$59,640$122,10049%45650711%1.5
5Iowa$45,040$130,60034%24030025%1.49
6Texas$54,400$151,00036%1740215024%1.49
7Kentucky$50,030$126,40040%607017%1.41
8North Carolina$57,400$148,10039%67077015%1.35
9Arizona$51,540$201,30026%29036024%1.25
10Utah$46,480$220,90021%14018029%1.24
11Michigan$44,600$120,60037%25028012%1.23
12Colorado$53,000$286,20019%41053029%1.2
13South Carolina$50,790$135,30038%21023010%1.18
14Ohio$43,730$118,20037%42046010%1.17
15Oklahoma$33,680$112,60030%12014017%1.17
16Virginia$52,610$231,30023%80099024%1.17
17Missouri$48,430$133,40036%128014009%1.14
18Indiana**$37,700$115,10033%19021111%1.1
19Pennsylvania$48,100$152,00032%2530281011%1.07
20Illinois$46,140$157,00029%1250139011%1.02
21Wisconsin$42,470$157,40027%31035013%1
22Washington$59,220$284,10021%49058018%0.98
23Mississippi$29,940$113,10026%35039011%0.95
24Georgia$40,750$141,80029%7207808%0.93
25Kansas$35,525$122,90029%1201308%0.93
26Florida$43,170$180,70024%2470277012%0.9
27New Jersey$63,520$286,40022%37042014%0.89
28New York$54,990$262,90021%3870443014%0.89
29South Dakota$33,600$173,90019%19022016%0.88
30Alaska*$56,000$262,40021%30034013%0.87
31Idaho*$40,405$171,30024%15417111%0.87
32Louisiana$39,370$166,00024%9010011%0.87
33Oregon$40,240$261,60015%26031019%0.87
34Rhode Island**$53,400$227,30023%707811%0.87
35West Virginia$31,800$94,00034%40400%0.85
36Montana*$41,570$186,20022%9610711%0.84
37Wyoming*$41,100$192,40021%556111%0.82
38New Hampshire$41,300$224,70018%23026013%0.79
39North Dakota**$39,720$196,80020%707811%0.79
40Maine*$35,000$195,00018%12513911%0.73
41Minnesota$44,500$183,10024%2002105%0.73
42Vermont*$37,250$218,30017%596611%0.71
43Nevada$48,880$210,30023%2602704%0.68
44New Mexico$35,240$163,60022%1801906%0.68
45Maryland$51,220$249,40021%161017106%0.67
46Delaware$52,930$205,30026%40400%0.65
47Connecticut$52,120$237,90022%2802904%0.64
48California$54,410$450,60012%15016711%0.58
49Washington DC*$54,500$502,90011%626911%0.55
50Massachusetts$45,050$339,90013%6907103%0.4
51Hawaii$58,030$549,70011%50500%0.26

Additional Resources

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://www1.cfnc.org/Plan/For_A_Career/Career_Cluster_Profile/Cluster_Article.aspx?articleId=emNvaLqlpItPGYXAP2BPAXsCXAP2BPAX9TEAXAP3DPAXXAP3DPAX&cId=Rev4XiJAMd2VfgYMBXuVvQXAP3DPAXXAP3DPAX&sectionId=3
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, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcst.htm
5. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
6. Zillow: https://www.zillow.com/home-values/