Iowa Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps

Bounty hunters retrieve individuals released on bail who have failed to appear for required court appearances in criminal cases. This page covers how to obtain a license to work as a bounty hunter in Iowa, training suggestions for a career in bounty hunting or other fugitive recovery professions, and links to agents or associations that may help you find work once you receive your license. Statistics on the job outlook in related professions in the state are also included.

Requirements for Prospective Bounty Hunters in Iowa

Anyone working as a bounty hunter, also referred to as a bail enforcement agent in Iowa, either on their own or through a bail enforcement agency must have a license issued by the Iowa Department of Public Safety. To be eligible for the license, you must be at least 18 years old and a US citizen, have no felony or aggravated misdemeanor convictions, and have no history of domestic violence or drug and alcohol abuse.

Steps to a Career as a Bail Enforcement Agent in Iowa

To obtain a bail enforcement agent license in Iowa, you should follow the steps provided below. Licenses are valid for two years and are accompanied by an identification card that must be with you at all times while you are working.

1. Obtain a $5,000 surety bond and liability insurance.

You must submit proof of a $5,000 surety bond and proof of liability insurance with your application because bail enforcement agents may be subject to civil action if they do not follow the appropriate procedures while apprehending an individual.

2. Submit your application package.

Send your application form to the Department of Public Safety with two passport-style photos, the $100 application fee, and $10 identification card fee. You will also need to send two fingerprint cards with your application. These fingerprints must be taken by an approved office, such as the Department of Public Safety office, and the cost is at your expense. You must also send the $30 fingerprint card processing fee for each set of fingerprints with your application.

3. Receive your license.

Once you receive your license you will be able to look for employment in the fugitive recovery field. You must carry your identification card with you at all times and may be required to wear a uniform if you are hired by an authorized bail enforcement agency.

Related Careers

If you are interested in bounty hunting careers, you may be interested in related professions, such as private investigation and process serving, in the fugitive recovery and criminal justice sector.

Private Investigator/Private Detective

Private investigators find information related to crimes or court actions and must also obtain a license from the Iowa Department of Public Safety. The licensing process to obtain a private investigator license is similar to the bounty hunter license process in Iowa and also costs $100. The license is also valid for two years; however, you will be required to complete 12 hours of continuing education during each two-year period.

Process Server

Process servers transport and deliver documents to necessary parties for court proceedings. You do not need a license to work as a process server in Iowa and may find employment with either private agencies or with the state. You may be able to find work in large centers or smaller areas as court documents need to be delivered in all geographic areas.

Training and Education Options in Iowa

There are no specific educational requirements necessary to apply for the bail enforcement or private investigator licenses in Iowa; however, pursuing training relevant to fugitive recovery, in either criminal justice or policing, may help you learn useful skills before you start working as a bounty hunter or private detective. Several colleges offer two-year associate degrees that include courses on criminology, corrections, and testifying. Four-year bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice may provide even more in-depth information, including courses in psychology and law. We have provided two examples of relevant programs.

Hawkeye Community College
1501 East Orange Road
Waterloo, IA 50704

Western Iowa Tech Community College
4647 Stone Avenue
Sioux City, IA 51102

Finding Work

Finding work in the fugitive recovery field requires a strong network because many companies hire bounty hunters based on reputation and results. To start your career and find work opportunities, you might consider working with an experienced bounty hunter who can act as a mentor and help you gain experience in the field. Contacting bail bond agencies, which hire bounty hunters to retrieve individuals who have skipped court appearances after having bail posted on their behalf, may help you find opportunities. The Professional Bail Agents of the United States (PBUS) directory provides information for nine bail bond agents to help you start your search.

Featured Bail Agents in Iowa

There are many bail bond agents across the state. Here are a few that are highly-rated, well-known, or have a website.

A To Z Bail Bonds
209 4th Street
Des Moines, IA 50310

First Priority Bail Bonds
222 3rd Avenue, Suite 299
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

Gallagher Bail Bonds
101 North 16th Street
Council Bluffs, IA 51501

Kenny’s Bail Bonds
2051 East Euclid Street
Des Moines, IA 50317

Lederman Bonding Co.
501 5th Avenue
Council Bluffs, IA 51503

Yes Bail Bonds
2530 Westwinds Drive
Iowa City, IA 52240

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

Bounty Hunter Salary and Outlook in Iowa

In this section, we provide statistics and information about the job outlook for private detectives and investigators in Iowa as a proxy for bounty hunters, because the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not gather information on bounty hunting. In 2012, there were 240 individuals employed as private detectives in the state overall, which was projected to increase by 26.7% to 300 jobs by 2022.1 Similar average salaries were reported in metropolitan areas of the state in 2012, and the average salary for private investigators across the state in May 2015 was $44,930.2

City or Metropolitan AreaNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Davenport-Moline-Rock IslandN/A*$50,470
Des Moines-West Des Moines30$46,460

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.
*Estimate not available from the BLS.3

Additional Resources

1. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Iowa – https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ia.htm
3. Occupational Employment Statistics Query System: https://www.bls.gov/oes/