Florida Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps
Florida has a population of over 21 million people.1 While it is illegal to identify yourself as a “bounty hunter” in Florida, the state does offer bail bond agent licenses. State-licensed bail bond agents can pursue and apprehend fugitives just like a bounty hunter does in other states. In Florida, bail bond agents aim to recover defendants who have skipped bail, also known as “skips.” The text below details the process for becoming a licensed bail bond agent, how to find work as an agent, and the career outlook in Florida.
Table of Contents
- Bail Bond Agent Requirements
- Steps to a Career
- Related Careers
- Training and Education Options
- Finding Work
- Salary and Job Outlook
- Bail Bond Agent Resources
Requirements for Prospective Bail Bond Agents in Florida
In Florida, it is a felony to present yourself as a “bounty hunter,” but you may work as a bail bond agent if properly licensed. In the state, the work of bail bond agents is regulated by the Florida Department of Financial Services (FLCFO), as bail bonding is a type of insurance. Continue reading to learn more about the qualifications and requirements for licensure for bail bond agents in Florida.
Steps to a Career as a Bail Bond Agent in Florida
The Florida Division of Insurance offers three licenses for bail bond agents:
- Temporary Bail Bond Agent
- Professional Bail Bond Agent
- Limited Surety (Bail Bond) Agent
You must first hold a license as a temporary bail bond agent before applying for licensure as a professional or limited bail bond agent. All bail bond agents except for temporary bond agents may execute and sign bonds, manage collateral receipts, deliver bonds and defendants to jail, and operate bail bond agencies. Professional bail bond agents are licensed to use their own money as security for bail bonds set forth by the court, whereas limited surety agents are appointed by insurers.
Continue reading to learn the process for obtaining licensure as a bail bond agent in Florida.
Temporary Resident Limited Surety (Bail Bond) Agent
A temporary bail bond agent license allows a person to work as a bail bond agent under supervision and gain the required experience to become a fully licensed professional. Individuals who wish to obtain a temporary license must:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Be a resident of Florida
- Be a US citizen or legal alien with the right to work in the US
- Be employed and supervised by a licensed bail bond agent
- Not have been convicted of a felony or a crime in which more than one year of jail or prison time was served
If you meet these basic qualifications, you can follow the steps below to become licensed.
1. Meet education and experience requirements.
To meet Florida’s education requirements for bail bond agents, you must first complete the 30-hour Bail Bond Agent Pre-Licensure course, which is offered online through the University of Florida. You must then take the 120-hour, state-required bail bond course from an approved provider, passing with a grade of 80% or higher. All education must be completed within four years of applying to become a licensed temporary bail bond agent.
Once you have completed the educational requirements, you and your supervising bail bond agent must file an affidavit under oath verifying that you are currently employed full-time as a bail bond agent. Your temporary license will be contingent on remaining employed by your supervising agent, who must file monthly affidavits testifying to your hours.
2. Complete the application.
Temporary bail bond agents must apply to the Division of Insurance Agent and Agency Service. Along with the application, you must submit three notarized personal recommendation statements, a photograph that shows your full face, the bail bond appointment form, the $90 license fee, and a $50 application fee (as of April 2022).
Temporary bail bond agents must be fingerprinted by the fingerprint vendor IdentoGO, which assesses a fee of $48.05 plus tax (fees may vary by county).*
Within 20 days after you finish your pre-licensing courses, the education provider will send the agency proof that you passed.
3. Receive your license.
Once you complete the steps above, you will receive your temporary bail bond agent license. The temporary license is valid for 18 months. Once you complete one year (12 months) of full-time work experience (at least 1,540 hours), you may apply for a bail bond agent license.
Limited Surety (Bail Bond) Agent or Professional Bail Bond Agent
Once you have held a temporary bail bond agent license for a year and have acquired 1,540 hours of work experience, you may apply to become a licensed resident limited surety (bail bond) agent or a professional bail bond agent. Unlike limited surety agents, professional bail bond agents pledge their own funds as security for a bail bond. Once you meet the age and background qualifications stated above, you must complete the following steps to become a licensed agent.
1. Apply for licensure.
All bail bond agent applicants must apply for licensure and pay the $50 application fee and the $80 bail bond agent fee (as of April 2022). In addition to the completed application and license fees, you must submit:
- Three notarized personal recommendation statements from citizens of good standing and
- A recent passport-sized photograph
Individuals applying to become licensed professional bail bond agents must also submit:
- The Bail Bond Rate Filing form, which lays out the fees you intend to charge
- The Professional Bail Bond Agent Financial Statement form
All bail bonds agents must be fingerprinted and pay the $48.55 fingerprinting fee (as of April 2022).
2. Pass the examination.
Limited and professional bail bond agents must pass the Florida Insurance Licensing Exam, administered by PearsonVUE. You must have approval from the Agency prior to sitting for the exam. For bail bond agents, the exam is a 60-question, one-hour exam. Candidates may take the exam five times within a 12-month period. Candidates must answer 70% of questions correctly to pass. If you fail the exam three times, you must retake the 120-hour approved basic criminal justice certification course. As of April 2022, the state exam cost $44.
3. Receive your license.
After completing the above steps, you will become a licensed bail bond agent in the state of Florida. In order for your license to be valid, you must be appointed by the Agency. Unappointed licenses will expire after four years.
Bail bond agents must complete 14 hours of continuing education (CE) every two years by the end of the licensee’s birth month. CE credits must include four hours of law and ethics and 10 hours of elective credits.
Many bail bond agents supplement their income by working in related careers like private investigation or process serving. Both careers offer experience that will be valuable to your bail bond agent career.
Private Investigator/ Private Detective
Private investigators or private detectives investigate information of various kinds for their clients; this may include personal information, looking through financial documents and trends, or legal information. To become a private investigator in Florida, you must be at least 18 years of age, be a US citizen or legal resident who has the right to work in the US, have no felonies or other disqualifying criminal history, and have no history of mental illness. To learn more about the license types and requirements, visit the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Bail bond agents in Florida may start out as process servers or may work as both process servers and bail bond agents. Process servers notify defendants, witnesses, and other interested parties of legal actions of the court. In Florida, a process server must be certified by the Judicial Circuit(s) in which they intend to work. Typically, process servers must be 18 years of age, pass a background investigation and exam, and obtain a minimum $5,000 bond. Each Judicial Circuit provides instructions on how to become a process server in its jurisdiction.
Training and Education Options in Florida
In Florida, bail bond agents are not required to have a degree, although obtaining a degree or other certification in criminal justice may make you a more marketable agent. Bail bond agents may wish to start with two-year educational programs emphasizing criminal justice and private investigation. Some police academies in Florida also offer training to individuals who are not sworn law enforcement officers. Below are a few programs offered across the state of Florida that bail bond agents may want to consider:
Florida Bail Bond School
10 High Point Rd
Plantation Key, FL 33070
Florida State College at Jacksonville Northeast Florida Criminal Justice Center
4715 Capper Rd
Jacksonville, FL 32218
Valencia College School of Public Safety
8600 Valencia College Ln
Orlando, FL 32825
In Florida, most bail bond agents will be employed by a bail bondsman but professional bail agents may also work independently. According to the Professional Bail Agents of the United States (PBUS), there are 35 registered bail bond agents in Florida. Bail bond agents are hired based on experience and are only paid if they find and return the person who has skipped bail. To increase your chances of landing consistent work, consider an apprenticeship with a more experienced bail bond agent.
Networking is also key to becoming a successful bail bond agent. Get to know bail bondsmen in your county and be prepared to show them how you are experienced in the profession. Below is a list of resources for bail bond agents in the state.
Featured Bail Agents in Florida
The following list comprises some of the most well-known and highly-rated bond agencies in Florida. You can use this list to contact and network with other bail bondsmen in Florida and find work as a licensed bail bondsman.
A-1 Bail Bonds
860 NW County Rd 25A
Lake City, FL 32055
Aly’s Bail Bonds
7225 NW 25 St
Miami, Florida 33122
Barbies Bail Bonds
1015 S Congress Ave #1
West Palm Beach, FL 33406
225 Aragon Ave
Coral Gables, FL 33134
Chris’s 24/7 Bail Bonds
437 E Monroe St
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Monroe County Bail Bonds
10 High Point Rd
Plantation Key, FL 33070
Roundtree Bonding Agency
2632 NW 43rd St
Gainesville, FL 32606
Ryan Wells Bail Bonds
1010 E Adams St
Jacksonville, FL 32202
For even more bail agents and bondsmen in your area, you can use the Find a Bail Agent tool on the PBUS website.
Bail Bond Agent Salary and Outlook in Florida
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide salary or employment numbers for bounty hunters. Because the job type and salary for private investigators are similar to that of bail bond agents, we use data for private investigators as a proxy. Florida has the second-highest number of jobs for private investigators by state and the highest number of jobs for this occupation in non-metropolitan areas.2 In 2021, 2,630 private investigators were employed in Florida, and they earned an average annual salary of $59,350.3 Job projections for private investigators are not available for Florida, so we use detectives and criminal investigators as a proxy. The number of detectives and criminal investigators in Florida is projected to increase by 4% through 2030, with about 550 job openings per year including replacements.4
|City or Metropolitan Area||Number Employed3||Average Annual Salary3|
|Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach||880||$62,210|
There are many bond agents working in the state of Florida. Below are a few resources to connect with bail bond agents in the state and grow your career.
- Florida Association of Licensed Investigators (FALI): A networking association and advocate for private detectives and investigators in the state of Florida.
- Florida Bail Agents Association (FLBAA): Offers resources, a directory of local bondsmen in different areas of the state, and continuing education opportunities.
- Florida Surety Association (FSA): Provides surety bond agents and other insurance professionals with professional guidance and networking opportunities.
1. US Census Bureau, Florida: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/FL/PST045221
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021, Private Detectives and Investigators: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes339021.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Florida: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_fl.htm
4. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm