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Alabama Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps

Over 4.8 million people live in Alabama, and while the state’s current laws do not recognize bounty hunting as a profession, the practice of bounty hunting is permitted.1 In this state, those who perform the work that bounty hunters do (in capturing fugitives) are classified as professional bondsmen. Professional bondsmen issue bonds as well as pursue and apprehend “skips,” a popular term for individuals who skip bail. If you are interested in a career as a bondsman, continue reading below to learn about the licensing process and career options for professional bondsmen in Alabama.

Requirements for Prospective Professional Bondsmen in Alabama

In most other states, the duties of bail bondsmen and bounty hunters are segregated. Bail bondsmen usually pledge money or property as bail in exchange for the appearance of the accused in a court of law. Bail enforcement agents, or bounty hunters, are hired by bail bondsmen to locate and detain those who have skipped bail, to bring them to court and uphold the bondsman’s pledge. In Alabama, professional bondsmen are responsible for all aspects of this bail process. While professional bondsmen who are properly licensed in another state are permitted to apprehend skips in the state of Alabama, in order to apprehend more than four individuals within the state during any 12-month period, professionals must be licensed as bondsmen by the Alabama Department of Insurance.2 To become licensed, candidates must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be a US citizen
  • Have a clean criminal record free of felony convictions or crimes of moral turpitude
  • Have a net worth after outstanding obligations sufficient to cover a surety agreement
  • If operating independently, provide a corporate surety bond of $25,000.00, which must be approved by the probate judge of each county in which an individual operates as a professional bondsman

Steps to a Career as a Professional Bondsman in Alabama

Those who wish to become professional bondsmen in Alabama must follow the state’s licensing process. This includes meeting training requirements, passing an exam on bail bond laws and processes, and completing the application for a license. The Alabama Department of Insurance issues licenses for professional bondsmen and is responsible for regulating their conduct. To earn your professional bondsman license in the state you must meet the requirements noted above and complete the following steps.

1. Complete the required prelicensing course.

Bail bondsmen must take a prelicensing course of 20 clock hours covering the principles of bail bond insurance, of which at least five hours must relate directly to Alabama law.3 The prelicensing course must be taken through a provider approved by the Alabama Department of Insurance. There are currently three providers approved to offer the bail bond course, which can also be completed online.

2. Take and pass the Insurance Producer – Bail Bond Examination.

Once the prelicensing course is successfully completed, the candidate will be awarded a certificate that allows him or her to complete the next step of the process, which is passing the state’s bail bond insurance exam. The exam must be taken within one year of the date on the certificate.

The exam is administered through and proctored by the University of Alabama and can be taken at various campus locations throughout the state. Examinees must register for the test at least seven days before their desired testing date.

Candidates are given 60 minutes to answer the 50 questions on the exam. To pass the exam and apply for a license, candidates must answer at least 35 of the 50 questions correctly. Questions are taken from materials covered in the prelicensing course and the state’s recommended textbook for the bail bond exam.

3. Complete a fingerprint check.

As professional bondsmen in Alabama must be free of felony convictions and convictions relating to moral turpitude, candidates must complete a fingerprint background check in order to receive a license. This step must be done through 3M Cogent, a third-party provider that is contracted through the state.

4. Apply for a license.

Once the bail bond course and exam have been successfully passed, prospective professional bondsmen must submit an application for a license through the National Insurance Producer Registry. The license application must be submitted as soon as possible after the candidate is fingerprinted, as background check results are only kept in the system for 30 days. As of early 2016, the licensing fee for a professional bondsman was $60.

5. Seek employment in or establish a new professional bond company.

Professional bondsmen in Alabama must be working for a registered and insured professional bond company. Once you receive your license, you may work for an established professional bond company or start your own; however, it is recommended that those who are interested in working independently first gain experience in the field. For information on the requirements for registering a professional bond company, visit the Alabama Department of Insurance.

Related Careers

Since the availability of work for professional bondsmen can vary, impacting the reliability of their income, and because professional bondsmen rely on a wide skillset that touches on related careers, those in this career often work in a variety of jobs. This additional work can bring in extra income and help bondsmen gain additional experience.

Private Investigator/Private Detective

Private investigators (PIs) and private detectives (PDs) typically charge clients an hourly rate to uncover information that can’t be found through other means. This information may be personal, legal, or financial, or a combination thereof. The Alabama Private Investigation Board is responsible for regulating and licensing PIs working in the state. Prospective PIs must be US citizens at least 21 years of age, have a clean criminal record, and pass an examination on investigative techniques, ethics, and law.

Process Server

Process servers are tasked with notifying individuals of court actions that must be delivered in person, such as a summons to appear. Many bondsmen start their careers as process servers and continue to take process serving work throughout their careers. To become a process server in Alabama, an individual must be at least 18 years of age and be designated by the court to deliver the legal documents in question.

Training and Education Options in Alabama

Professional bondsmen in Alabama are not required to hold a college degree, but earning an education in the criminal justice field can help you understand legal process and procedure and advance your career opportunities. Earning a two-year associate’s degree or four-year bachelor’s degree is a good way to show prospective clients that you are qualified and serious about the profession. Below you will find a selection of schools in Alabama offering criminal justice programs.

Calhoun Community College
PO Box 2216
Decatur, AL 35609
http://www.calhoun.edu

Columbia College-Redstone Arsenal
Army Education Center Bldg 3495, Ste 106
Redstone Arsenal, AL 35698
http://www.ccis.edu/nationwide/main.asp?redstone

Faulkner State Community College
1900 Highway 31 S
Bay Minette, AL 36507
http://www.faulknerstate.edu

Jefferson State Community College
2601 Carson Rd
Birmingham, AL 35215
http://www.jeffersonstate.edu

Finding Work

In Alabama, bondsmen usually begin their careers by working for a licensed professional bond company. Working for an established firm allows you to learn from more experienced professionals before starting your own professional bond company, which in Alabama carries specific bonding and insurance requirements. Working in a firm also allows you to build relationships that can lead to referrals and steady work later on in your career. The Professional Bail Agents of the United States (PBUS) reports that there are over 35 member professional bondsmen in Alabama; read on to find a listing of featured firms in which to start your career.

Featured Professional Bond Companies in Alabama

To assist you in starting your career by learning from experienced professional bondsmen, we have listed a few of the highest-rated Alabama bond agencies with which to begin your employment search.

A- Birmingham Bail Bonds
1820 7th Ave N
Birmingham, AL 35203

A ABC Bail Bonds
723 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd N
Birmingham, AL 35203
http://www.bailbondsofalabama.com

All-Out Bail Bonds
1803 University Dr NW
Huntsville, AL 35801
http://www.alloutbailbondshsv.com

Bama Bail Bonds
118 Charleston St
Mobile, AL 36603
http://www.bamabailmobile.com

Good Fellas Bonding
180 E Main St
Centre, AL 35960

Kenny Bunn Bail Bonds LLC
30 E 14th St
Anniston, AL 36201

Kompound Bail Bonding
1100 Jordan Ln NW #B
Huntsville, AL 35816
http://www.kompoundbailbonding.com

To find additional professional bondsmen in your area, you can use the Find a Bail Agent tool offered on the PBUS website.

Bounty Hunter Salary and Outlook in Alabama

Although salary and job outlook information is not collected for professional bondsmen, the work of private investigators is similar in scope and compensation and can be used as a proxy. In 2015, there were nearly 200 private investigators working in Alabama, earning an average salary of $65,300.4 According to Projections Central, employment of private detectives and investigators in Alabama is expected to increase by 13.3% between 2012 and 2022, making Alabama a good state in which to start a career.5

City or Metropolitan Area Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Birmingham-Hoover 50 $77,110
Columbus, GA-AL N/A* $52,840

Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.4
*Estimates not released by the BLS.

Additional Resources

Below you will find links to bail bond associations and related organizations that can help you find networking and learning opportunities to grow your career.

  • Alabama Private Investigators Association – Offers regular meetings and conferences to help licensed private investigators develop skills and knowledge in criminal justice procedure and practice.
  • Southern Criminal Justice Association – Provides networking and professional development opportunities for criminal justice practitioners, researchers, and educators across the Southern states.

References:
1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Alabama: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/AL,US/PST045216
2. Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure: http://judicial.alabama.gov/library/rules_crim_procedure.cfm
3. Alabama Department of Insurance: http://www.aldoi.gov/licensing/prelicensing.aspx
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Alabama: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_al.htm
5. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm