Alabama Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps
Over 5 million people live in Alabama.1 The Alabama Professional Bail Bonding Board (APBB) is responsible for issuing licenses and overseeing the operations of bounty hunters, who are known in Alabama as bail or bond recovery agents. Recovery agents pursue and apprehend “skips,” a popular term for individuals who skip bail. If you are interested in a career as a recovery agent, continue reading below to learn about the licensing process and career options in Alabama.
Table of Contents
- Recovery Agent Requirements
- Steps to a Career
- Related Careers
- Training and Education Options
- Finding Work
- Salary and Job Outlook
- Recovery Agent Resources
Requirements for Prospective Recovery Agents in Alabama
Recovery agents 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. To become licensed as a recovery agent in Alabama, candidates must:
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Have a clean criminal record free of felony convictions or crimes of moral turpitude
- Not have a history of being declared mentally incompetent by a court
Steps to a Career as a Recovery Agent 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 16 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 APBB, and total fees for any given course are capped by law at $500. There are currently five 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. The exam fee is $50 (as of July 2022).
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.
Recovery agents in Alabama must complete a fingerprint background check in order to receive a license. This step must be done through Gemalto Applicant Processing Services, 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 or apply online. 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 2022, the license and card printing fee for recovery agents was $135 by paper or $140.40 if applying online. Once issued, the bail recovery agent license must be renewed annually on or before November 1.
Since the availability of work for professional bondsmen can vary, impacting the reliability of their income, and because professional bondsmen rely on a wide skill set 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, financial, or a combination thereof. The Alabama Private Investigation Board (APIB) 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 investigative and law exam, a study guide for which is provided on the APIB website.
After passing the exam, candidates can submit a completed application for a license to APIB. As of July 2022, the license application fee was $100, plus $38.25 for the required background check. Once issued, licenses expire every two years and must be renewed by completing 16 clock hours of continuing education and paying the $300 renewal fee (as of July 2022).
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
Bail recovery agents in Alabama are not required to hold a college degree, but earning an education in the criminal justice field can help you understand the legal process 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
6250 Hwy 31
North Tanner, AL 35671
Faulkner State Community College
1900 Hwy 31 S
Bay Minette, AL 36507
Jefferson State Community College
2601 Carson Rd
Birmingham, AL 35215
In Alabama, recovery agents usually work for or with licensed professional bond companies. 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. The Professional Bail Agents of the United States (PBUS) reports that there are four 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
ABF Bail Bond
727 Arcadia Cir NW
Huntsville, AL 35801
A Discount Bonding Co
600 Wheeler Ave
Huntsvile, AL 35801
All-Out Bail Bonds
1803 University Dr NW
Huntsville, AL 35801
Bama Bail Bonds
118 Charleston St
Mobile, AL 36603
Fresh Out Bail Bonds, Inc.
346 6th Ave S
Birmingham, AL 35205
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 2021, there were an estimated 120 private investigators working in Alabama, earning an average salary of $66,040.2 This is above the national average for this profession, which was $60,970 during the same time period.3 The Birmingham-Hoover metro area was one of the highest-paying areas for PIs in 2021, with an average salary of $69,920 reported.3 Job growth projections for private investigators is not available, but the category of detectives and criminal investigators can be used as a similar point of comparison. According to Projections Central, employment of detectives and criminal investigators in Alabama is expected to increase by 3.4% through 2030.4
|City or Metropolitan Area||Number Employed2||Average Annual Salary2|
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 (APIA): 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.
1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Alabama: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/AL/PST045221
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, May 2021, Alabama: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_al.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021, Private Detectives and Investigators: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes339021.htm
4. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm