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Florida Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps

Florida has a population of over 19 million people. 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.

Requirements for Prospective Bail Bond Agents in Florida

In Florida, the work of bail bond agents is regulated by the Division of Insurance Agent and Agency Services. In the state, it is unlawful to present yourself as a “bounty hunter” and doing so is a felony, punishable by law. In order to work as a bail bond agent in Florida, you must be licensed by the state. 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:

  • The Temporary Bail Bond Agent license
  • The Limited Surety (Bail Bond) Agent license
  • The Professional Bail Bond Agent license

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.

Continuing reading to learn the process for obtaining your temporary license (which expires after 18 months) and permanent license as a bail bond agent.

Temporary Resident Limited Surety (Bail Bond) Agent

A temporary resident limited surety agent or 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. Gain the required experience.

Temporary bail bond agents must have completed 120 hours of an approved basic criminal justice certification course, passing with a grade of 80% or higher. In addition, you must complete the correspondence course offered at the University of Florida to qualify to become a bail bond agent. 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 as a bail bond agent.

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 statements, a photograph that shows your full face, the bail bond appointment form, the $90 license fee,* and a $50 application fee.*

Temporary bail bond agents must be fingerprinted by the fingerprint vendor and pay the $48.55 fingerprinting fee*.

Within 20 days after you finish your pre-licensing courses, the education provider will send the agency proof that you passed.

*Fees are current as of February 2016.

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 of full-time work experience (at least 1,540 hours), you may apply for a bail bond agent license. Supervisors of temporary bail bond agents must report monthly to the Agency.

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.* In addition to the completed application and license fees, you must submit:

Individuals applying to become licensed professional bail bond agents must also submit:

All bail bonds agents must be fingerprinted and pay the $48.55 fingerprinting fee*.

*Fees are current as of February 2016.

2. Pass the examination.

Limited and professional bail bond agents must pass the Florida Insurance Licensing Exam. 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 February 2016, the state exam cost $42.

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 continuing education (CE) every two years by the end of the licensee’s birth month. CE credits must include five hours or law and ethics and nine hours of elective credits.

Related Careers

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, 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.

Process Server

A bail bond agents in Florida may start out as a process server, or may work as both a process server and bail bond agent. 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 12th Judicial Circuit. Process servers must be 18 years of age, pass a background investigation and exam, and obtain a $5,000 bond. The 12th Judicial Circuit provides instructions on how to become a process server in the state.

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 bail bond agent. Bail bond agents should focus on two-year educational programs around criminal justice and private investigation. Some police academies even 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 State College at Jacksonville
Northeast Florida Criminal Justice Center
4715 Capper Road
Jacksonville, FL 32218
http://www.fscj.edu

Valencia College
School of Public Safety
8600 Valencia College Lane
Orlando, FL 32825
http://valenciacollege.edu

Finding Work

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 over 70 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.

Florida Bail Agents Association (FBAA)
725 W Main St
Tavares, FL 32778

Florida Surety Agents Association (FSAA)
513 W Main St
Tavares, FL 32778

Featured Bail Agents in Florida

The following list is comprised of 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.

2nd 2 None Bail Bonds
2737-4 Edgewood Ave W
Jacksonville, FL 32210

A-1 Bail Bonds
323 SW 6th St
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
http://www.a1bailmeout.com

Aly’s Bail Bonds
7315 NW 36 St
Miami, Florida 33166
http://www.alysbailbonds.com

Bail Yes Nationwide Immigration Bonds
2299 SW 27 Ave
Ste 200
Miami, FL 33145
http://www.bailyes.com

Barbies Bail Bonds
1399 NW 17th Ave
Ste 305A
Miami, FL 33125
http://www.barbiesbailbonds.com

Brennan Bail
225 Aragon Avenue
Coral Gables, FL 33134
http://www.brennanbailbonds.com

Chris’s 24/7 Bail Bonds
411 E Monroe St
Ste 101B
Jacksonville, FL 32202
http://www.chriss247bailbondsinc.com

Ryan Wells Bail Bonds
1010 E Adams St
Jacksonville, FL 32202
http://www.ryanwellsbailbonds.com

The People’s Champ Bail Bonds
425 W Colonial Dr
Ste 105
Orlando, FL 32804
http://champbailbonds.com

TGK Bail Bonds
7035 NW 41 St
Miami, FL 33166
http://tgkbail.com

For even more bail agents and bondsmen in your area, you can use the Find a Bail Agent tool on the PBUS website.

Bounty Hunter 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 agent, we use this data for private investigators as a proxy. Florida has the second highest number of jobs for private investigators in the state and the highest number of jobs for non-metropolitan areas.2 In 2014, 2,430 private investigators were employed in Florida and they earned an average annual salary of $43,170.3 The number of private investigators is projected to increase between now and 2022 by 12%, amount to about 90 job openings per year.4

City or Metropolitan Area Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Jacksonville N/A* $38,600
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach N/A* $45,310
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater 310 $42,390

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.2
*Estimates not released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Additional Resources

According to the Professional Bail Agents of the United States (PBUS), over 70 bail bond agents work in the state of Florida. Below are a few resources to connect with bail bond agents in the state and grow your career.

References:
1. US Census Bureau, Florida: https://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/12000.html
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015, Private Detectives and Investigators: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes339021.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Florida: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_fl.htm
4. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm