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Michigan Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps

With a population of 9.9 million people, Michigan allows the practice of bounty hunting but does not require licensure.1 Bounty hunters apprehend fugitives who have skipped bail. The state is relatively silent on laws that regulate bounty hunters or “skip tracers” as known in the state, but the profession is authorized by Michigan Legislature Act 175 of 1927. To learn more about the requirements to become a skip tracer in Michigan, continue reading below.

Requirements for Prospective Bounty Hunters in Michigan

There is no licensing or registration process for skip tracers in Michigan. Depending on the nature of the work, you may wish to obtain a license as a professional investigator or a collections agent. In Michigan, bounty hunters should 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.

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 starting 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 will aid you 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 range from $275 to $500. Bail enforcement training will provide training on legal issues, the court system, skip tracing, surveillance, and interviewing techniques. The Center for Protection, Security, and Personal Safety made the list of top 17 fugitive recovery programs in the state and is operated by Ed Becher, a former bail enforcement agent in Virginia. 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 at landing a bounty hunting job.

2. Identify a mentor.

In addition to setting uniform standards, licensing usually reduces the number of people employed in a certain profession due to the effort required to obtain a license. Because skip tracers are not licensed in Michigan, the pool of potential bounty hunter mentors will be vast. In order to set yourself apart from other skip traces 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. You should consider joining bail bondsmen and skip tracer associations throughout the state to connect with skip tracing veterans. Further below in this guide, we provide a listing of bail bond associations in the state of 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, you should consider applying for a concealed pistol license. It is unlawful for an individual under the age of 21 to carry a concealed weapon.

Related Careers

Most skip tracers expand their careers to include similar jobs. This not only provides them with supplemental income during slow times but also with 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:

  • Are a US citizen
  • Are 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

Licensed PIs in Michigan must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in police administration, criminal justice, security management, investigation, law, or computer forensics. To apply, visit the private investigator licensing page. As of March 2016, the fee to apply for licensure as a private investigator was $750.

Process Server

A process server works independently for the court system to file legal papers, serve documents to parties involved in a lawsuit, and retrieve documents as needed. Similar to skip tracers, 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. In Michigan, fees that process servers receive vary based on the type or paperwork they are serving. 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

We previously discussed the importance of attending a fugitive recovery course so that you will learn more about fugitive recovery and the process and laws governing Michigan. A great foundation for that profession-specific training is a two- or four-year education program in criminal justice or policies of criminal procedure. By having formal education, you will be more knowledgeable about the crime and justice system and you will show potential employers that you are serious about your career. Listed below are a few schools in Michigan that offer associate’s degrees in criminal justice or a certificate program in the subject matter.

Delta College
1961 Delta Rd
University Center, MI 48710
http://www.delta.edu/home.aspx

Northern Michigan University
1401 Presque Isle Ave
Marquette, MI 49855
http://www.nmu.edu

Northwestern Michigan College
1701 E Front St
Traverse City, MI 49686
https://www.nmc.edu

Siena Heights University
1247 E Siena Heights Dr
Adrian, MI 49221
http://www.sienaheights.edu

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.

Alibi Bail Bonds
1695 Service Rd
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

All American Bail Bond Agency
1274 Library St
Ste 600
Detroit, MI 48226
https://www.freebailnow.com

Big Brother Bail Bonds
800 Monroe Ave NW #212
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
http://www.bigbrotherbonds.com/index.html

Detroit Bail Bonds & Surety
65 Cadillac Sq
Ste 2605
Detroit, MI 48226
http://www.detroitbailbonds.com

EZ1 Bail Bonds
204 Grand River Ave
Ste 200
Howell, MI 48843
http://ez1bail.com

Freedom Bail Bond Novi
43217 Still Creek CT #3204
Novi, MI 48375
http://bailbondsnovi.com

Leo’s Bail Bonds
700 N Cedar St
Mason, MI 48854
http://leosbailbonds.com

PO Boyz Bail Bonds
1450 Alpine Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Smith Bonds & Surety
615 Griswold St
Detroit, MI 48226
https://www.smithbondsurety.com

You Walk Bail Bond Agency
1442 Brush St
Fl 1
Detroit, MI 48226

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 2015, 260 private investigators were employed in Michigan and they earned an annual average salary of $42,540.2 Between now and 2022, jobs for private investigators are expected to increase by 12%, which amounts to 10 additional job openings per year.3 The table below shows employment and salary data for private investigators in Michigan’s largest cities as reported by the BLS.

City or Metropolitan Area Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn 130 $44,810
Grand Rapids-Wyoming 50 $42,860

Data from the BLS as of May 2015.2

Additional Resources

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

  • Michigan Professional Bail Agents – An association of professional bail agents in Michigan that provides networking and continuing education opportunities for bail recovery agents in the state.
  • Michigan Council of Professional Investigators – An association of private investigators in Michigan that provides legal resources, updated code of ethics, and networking opportunities for PIs in Michigan.

References:
1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Michigan: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/MI/PST045216
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015, Michigan: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mi.htm
3. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm