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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 2022 was $59,400.1 The highest-paying states for these professionals were Oregon ($70,640 per year), New York ($69,260 per year), and Virginia ($68,340 per year).1 The states with the lowest average annual salary for private detectives and investigators were Mississippi ($39,510 per year), Idaho ($40,610 per year), and Oklahoma ($44,880 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 the National Association of Professional Process Servers, most contracts are between $20 and $100 per service, with additional fees commonly assessed for skip tracing, asset searches, and more complex services.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. Note that as private fugitive recovery is not permissible in any form in Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon, or Wisconsin, these states are not reflected in the table.

    RankStateUS AverageMay 2022 Avg PI Salary$59,4004Zillow Median Home Value (2023)$346,8566% of Median Home Avg Salary Buys17.1%2020 PIs Employed33,70042030 Projected PIs Employed38,100610-Year Growth (2020-2030)13.1%6Best States for PIs (Avg=1)1.00
    1West Virginia$67,340$154,97943.5%8010025.0%2.27
    2Iowa$48,940$209,31323.4%18023027.8%1.70
    3Arkansas*$65,890$186,20935.4%30534412.8%1.60
    4South Carolina$52,270$284,39618.4%20025025.0%1.44
    5Nevada$56,800$415,68913.7%14018028.6%1.40
    6Texas$54,990$302,33318.2%2,3302,89024.0%1.40
    7Montana$64,760$451,50514.3%8010025.0%1.30
    8New York$69,260$436,74515.9%1,5201,86022.4%1.27
    9Indiana$48,840$233,23620.9%66077016.7%1.25
    10New Mexico$51,090$288,22717.7%506020.0%1.25
    11Alabama*$51,830$214,51124.2%50757413.2%1.24
    12Missouri$57,040$238,44523.9%60068013.3%1.23
    13Oklahoma*$44,880$198,39822.6%40245513.2%1.19
    14Louisiana$47,090$189,10124.9%47052010.6%1.18
    15Virginia$68,340$372,30118.4%2,6103,06017.2%1.18
    16Georgia$55,380$317,78917.4%9101,07017.6%1.16
    17Maryland$58,880$399,91414.7%76091019.7%1.14
    18Michigan$58,490$230,92925.3%8008708.8%1.13
    19Arizona$59,060$414,26214.3%46055019.6%1.12
    20Nebraska$62,550$253,51124.7%1101209.1%1.12
    21Colorado$66,360$549,80712.1%42051021.4%1.11
    22North Dakota*,**$51,260$248,79320.6%788812.8%1.11
    23Massachusetts$55,730$580,0619.6%30037023.3%1.09
    24Alaska*$66,250$350,16318.9%738313.7%1.08
    25Pennsylvania$59,000$254,72223.2%2,0102,2009.5%1.08
    26Washington DC**$67,490$579,57511.6%2,9603,57020.6%1.07
    27Utah$46,750$518,8069.0%13016023.1%1.06
    28North Carolina$65,560$323,48720.3%72080011.1%1.04
    29Kansas$48,630$222,32821.9%1101209.1%1.03
    30Ohio$52,770$215,95624.4%1,3501,4406.7%1.03
    31South Dakota$54,420$292,77718.6%809012.5%1.03
    32Mississippi$39,510$169,38923.3%1401507.1%1.01
    33Idaho$40,610$448,1569.1%506020.0%0.96
    34Florida*$60,000$387,53715.5%2,2242,51613.1%0.95
    35New Hampshire$67,960$448,03415.2%15017013.3%0.94
    36Minnesota$57,480$327,54817.5%70077010.0%0.91
    37Wyoming*,**$45,630$333,05213.7%586613.8%0.91
    38New Jersey$60,100$468,09612.8%51058013.7%0.88
    39Vermont*,**$49,825$346,17714.4%657312.3%0.88
    40Connecticut$66,350$373,37617.8%5105507.8%0.85
    41Maine*$46,440$373,24112.4%13915712.9%0.84
    42Rhode Island$58,580$427,88113.7%9010011.1%0.82
    43Washington$67,050$631,98310.6%708014.3%0.82
    44Tennessee$57,620$304,34418.9%7307705.5%0.81
    45California$59,900$737,9008.1%3,7004,20013.5%0.72
    46Delaware$45,130$375,41212.0%3303403.0%0.50
    47Hawaii$66,320$834,4997.9%50500.0%0.26

    See Table Footnotes at bottom of page.

    Additional Resources

    Table Footnotes:
    *Base volume was estimated by using US population, number of PIs and detectives in the US, and the state’s population as known factors. The US national job growth projection is used for these states to establish 2030 projected numbers.
    **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. National Association of Professional Process Servers, Costs of Hiring a Process Server: https://napps.org/FAQ/how-much-does-it-cost-to-hire-a-process-server.aspx
    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.org/Projections/LongTerm
    6. Zillow, US Home Prices & Values (all home type composites), May 2023: https://www.zillow.com/home-values/102001/united-states/