Michigan Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps

    Michigan has a population of just over 10 million people and allows the practice of bounty hunting.1 Bounty hunters apprehend fugitives who have skipped bail. The state is relatively silent on laws that regulate bounty hunters, also known as “skip tracers” in the state. As such, skip tracers in Michigan are not required to become licensed unless they are performing certain activities that fall under the bail bond agent license (taking applications for and issuing bonds) or private investigator license (certain investigative activities). Overall, bounty hunters in Michigan are authorized by the Michigan Legislature Act 175 of 1927. To learn more about the requirements to become a bounty hunter or skip tracer in Michigan, continue reading.

    Table of Contents

    Requirements for Prospective Bounty Hunters in Michigan

    There is no licensing or registration process for skip tracers in Michigan. The only requirements are that bounty hunters be at least 18 years of age, be a US citizen or resident alien, have no felony convictions, and have some training in law enforcement or investigation. However, depending on the nature of the activities you plan to undertake, you may wish to obtain a license as a Professional Investigator (PI) or a Collections Agent.

    Steps to a Career as a Skip Tracer in Michigan

    Because the bounty hunting profession is allowed but not regulated in Michigan, there is no formal or detailed process to start a career in the profession. Michigan’s Act 175 of 1927 gives authority for anyone (who meets the standards listed above) to work as a skip tracer in the state. The Act states that you may arrest or detain a fugitive, and you can request the assistance of a peace officer if needed. Once detained, you must take the skip to the sheriff’s office or to jail and in turn, you will be compensated within 30 days. The steps below may help as you embark on a career as a skip tracer in Michigan.

    1. Obtain the appropriate training.

    While there is no required training or education to become a skip tracer in Michigan, you should enhance your understanding of bail enforcement and the laws governing such in Michigan. You can accomplish this by attending a bail enforcement training course. Prices typically range from $275 to $500. Bail enforcement training will provide training on legal issues, the court system, skip tracing, surveillance, and interviewing techniques. You should also consider obtaining a criminal justice degree from a two- or four-year college. Having some formal education can greatly increase your knowledge of the industry and may enhance your chances of landing a bounty hunting job.

    2. Identify a mentor.

    In order to set yourself apart from other skip tracers and show bail bondsmen that you are serious about the profession, you should look for a mentor who is experienced and offers guidance in your career. Consider joining bail bond and skip tracer associations in the state to connect with skip tracing veterans. Below, we provide a listing of bail bond associations in Michigan.

    3. Begin working as a skip tracer.

    Once you feel confident with your skip tracing experience and education, you can begin working independently as a skip tracer. If you are over the age of 21, consider applying for a concealed pistol license. It is unlawful for an individual under the age of 21 or an unlicensed individual to carry a concealed weapon in Michigan.

    Related Careers

    Most skip tracers expand their careers to include similar jobs. This provides them with supplemental income during slow times and valuable experience and connections. Some of these jobs include working as a private investigator or a process server. Continue reading to learn more about the requirements of both professions in the state of Michigan.

    Private Investigator

    Private investigators (PIs) are detectives who work for independent clients to find information on a matter that is relevant to the client. PIs, also known as private detectives (PDs) can investigate legal, financial, and personal data. In Michigan, PIs are licensed by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The Department requires that you:

    • Be a US citizen
    • Be at least 25 years of age
    • Have a high school diploma or GED
    • Have no felony convictions or misdemeanors that involve fraud, selling information or evidence, impersonating a law enforcement agent, illegal possession of a weapon, two or more alcohol related crimes, possession or distribution of a controlled substance, or assault
    • Have not been dishonorably discharged from the military
    • Have at least three years of investigation- or law enforcement-related experience

    Licensed PIs in Michigan must also have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in police administration, criminal justice, security management, investigation, law, or computer forensics. To apply, visit the Professional Investigator licensing page. As of May 2022, the fee to apply for licensure as a Professional Investigator was $750.

    Process Server

    A process server works independently on behalf of the court system to file legal papers, serve documents to parties involved in legal actions, and retrieve documents as needed. There is no licensure for process servers in Michigan. According to Section 600.1831 of Michigan’s annotated code, process servers must be at least 18 years of age to serve legal documents. However, the Michigan Court Officers, Deputy Sheriffs, and Process Servers’ Association (MCODSA) offers a voluntary process server certification program that has been adopted as a requirement by certain court systems in the state. For more information on becoming a process server in Michigan, visit the county clerk’s office of your home county.

    Training and Education Options in Michigan

    A great foundation for profession-specific training is a two- or four-year education program in criminal justice or law enforcement. With a formal education, you will be more knowledgeable about the crime and justice system and you can show potential employers that you are serious about your career. Listed below are a few schools in Michigan that offer associate’s degrees and/or certificate programs in criminal justice.

    Delta College
    1961 Delta Rd
    University Center, MI 48710

    Ferris State University
    1201 S State St
    Big Rapids, MI 49307

    Northern Michigan University
    1401 Presque Isle Ave
    Marquette, MI 49855

    Northwestern Michigan College
    1701 E Front St
    Traverse City, MI 49686

    Finding Work

    Skip tracers must be proactive if they wish to find steady work in Michigan. As a skip tracer, you must be comfortable introducing yourself to bail bondsmen and explaining why your qualifications make you right for the job. Skip tracers should look for experienced fugitive recovery agents who might act as a mentor. You may want to search for any apprenticeships for skip tracers in Michigan to learn how bounty hunting works in the real world and to gain valuable experience.

    Featured Bail Agents in Michigan

    Here’s a listing of top-rated bail bond agencies in Michigan to help you find job opportunities and connect with a mentor.

    2nd Chance Bail Bonds
    43430 Elizabeth Rd
    Clinton Township, MI 48036

    Bail My Tail Bond Agency
    1027 Church St
    Flint, MI 48502

    Big Brother Bail Bonds
    800 Monroe Ave NW
    Ste 212
    Grand Rapids, MI 49503

    Detroit Bail Bonds
    615 Griswold St
    Ste 903
    Detroit, MI 48226

    EZ1 Bail Bonds
    204 W Grand River Ave
    Ste 200
    Howell, MI 48843

    Freedom Bail Bond Novi
    43217 Still Creek Ct
    Novi, MI 48375

    I-Uncuff Bail Bond Agency, LLC
    401 E Broadway St
    Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858

    You Call Bail Bond Agency
    39 Church St
    Clemens, MI 48043

    To find even more bail agents and bondsmen in your area, use the Member Search tool on the PBUS website.

    Bounty Hunter Salary and Outlook in Michigan

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide salary data for bounty hunters or skip tracers in Michigan. To provide salary and outlook data, we use the information provided for private investigators as a proxy because of the similarity of job functions and compensation. In 2021, an estimated 990 private investigators were employed in Michigan, earning an annual average salary of $57,450.2 The Jackson area had one of the highest concentrations of private investigators per 1,000 people employed in the country.3 Through 2030, jobs for private investigators in Michigan are expected to increase by 8.8%, with an average of 80 average annual openings including replacements.4

    City or Metropolitan AreaNumber Employed2Average Annual Salary2
    Grand Rapids-Wyoming60$55,820

    Additional Resources

    Check out professional associations in Michigan to help build and grow your network.

    1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Michigan: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/MI/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, Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, May 2021, Michigan: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mi.htm
    4. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm