New York Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps

    The state of New York has a population of 19.8 million people and has one of the highest concentrations of private detectives in the nation.1,2 The state requires bail enforcement agents, commonly known as bounty hunters, to become licensed. Bounty hunters usually work on behalf of bail bondsmen to find and apprehend people who have skipped bail (“skips”). If a career as a bounty hunter in New York interests you, you’ll need to understand the requirements and steps for obtaining your license. Continue reading to learn more about that process.

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    Requirements for Prospective Bail Enforcement Agents in New York

    If you’re looking to learn about being a bail enforcement agent (BEA) in New York, then you need to understand the regulations and requirements of the profession. BEAs or bounty hunters in New York must be licensed by the Division of Licensing Services (the Division). New York bounty hunters must:

    • Be at least 25 years of age;
    • Have three years of experience working as a police officer or as an investigator in a recognized capacity;
    • Have 25 hours of approved fugitive recovery training (if no police experience);
    • Pass state and federal background checks;
    • And have a surety bond in the amount of $500,000.

    To apply for licensure as a bounty hunter, you must be the principal of your business, not an employee.

    Steps to a Career as a Bail Enforcement Agent in New York

    In New York, only BEAs can apprehend fugitives. The Division requires a certain amount of experience and training before you can apply. Continue reading to learn the steps to become a BEA set forth by the New York Division of Licensing Services. Note you do not have to be a resident of New York to be licensed as a BEA. If you meet the basic requirements listed above, following these steps will lead to licensure as a BEA in New York.

    1. Gain the required experience.

    Bounty hunters in New York must have at least three years of professional law enforcement experience or experience working under a private investigator performing duties relevant to the activities of a BEA. In addition to work experience, BEAs must complete an approved 25-hour training course. Once you select the institution and course you wish to take, you must submit the course approval application 60 days before the BEA training course is scheduled to occur and pay the $25 registration fee (as of April 2022). If you served as a police officer for at least three years, the training component for BEA licensure can be waived.

    2. Complete the application.

    After satisfying the education and experience requirements, you must submit the application form. Your application must include:

    • The $400 licensure fee (as of April 2022)
    • Your Social Security number
    • A signed DMV Consent Form
    • Proof of electronic fingerprinting
    • A sworn statement from the employers under whom you have experience, including employment dates, a description of activities, and hours worked**
    • A sworn statement from three people who have direct knowledge of your professional work experience

    *New York BEAs must schedule an appointment to be electronically fingerprinted by IdentoGO. As of April 2022, the fingerprinting fee was $75.
    **If you are claiming experience as a police officer or investigator from a state or federal agency, you must submit a letter from the supervisor of that division. The letter must specify your title, duties performed, and length of service.

    After your application has been approved, you must obtain a $500,000 surety bond from a surety company authorized to do business in New York. The agency must also be approved by the New York State Superintendent of Insurance.

    3. Receive your license.

    After you complete the steps above and receive approval for your application, you will become a licensed bail enforcement agent in New York. BEA licenses must be renewed every two years. To renew, you must submit a certification of bonded status. As of April 2022, the renewal fee was $400.

    Related Careers

    Because a bail enforcement agent’s salary may fluctuate depending on the amount of work coming in, you should know about similar positions and career fields that can provide additional and valuable experience and help you earn extra income.

    Private Investigator/Private Detective

    Many bounty hunters supplement their income by working as private investigators (PIs) or private detectives (PDs). PIs/PDs are usually independent contractors who work on a case-by-case basis to find information for their clients. They use many of the same skills as a bounty hunter: researching information, finding leads, and occasionally conducting stakeouts. In New York, PIs are regulated by the same agency as bail enforcement agents, the Division of Licensing Services. However, you are not permitted to work as a private investigator if you are a licensed bail enforcement agent in New York State. Licensed private investigators, on the other hand, may work as bail enforcement agents.

    To qualify for a PI license, you must be at least 25 years old, pass the PI exam, have three years of work experience, and be fingerprinted. A licensed PI or PD must also be a principal of their business. The application to become a licensed PI is the same application used for BEA licensure.

    Process Server

    Another job that a BEA may want to consider is working as a process server. Process servers “serve” all parties involved in a lawsuit with notice of legal action regarding their case. There are no statewide requirements to be a process server in New York. However, local jurisdictions may set different requirements. In New York City, for example, process servers must be licensed through the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) unless they are a licensed New York attorney or acting as an employee of a municipal agency. Check with your local court(s) for requirements and available jobs.

    Training and Education Options in New York

    BEAs in New York are not required to have two- or four-year degrees. At the same time, having professional training in criminal justice under your belt may lead to increased job possibilities and improved skills. If you’re serious about your bounty hunting career, it’s wise to consider completing a two-year criminal justice degree program or certificate. A few schools in New York that offer law enforcement and criminal justice training are listed below.

    CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice Justice Academy
    524 W 59th St
    New York, NY 10019

    SUNY Ulster Police Basic Training Program
    94 Mary’s Ave
    Kingston, NY 12401

    Superior Bureau of Investigation Inc
    142 West 36th St
    Ste 404
    New York, NY 10018

    Finding Work

    Starting out as a bounty hunter may prove difficult because you will be self-employed. To increase your chances of finding work as a bounty hunter, consider working as an apprentice under a more skilled bounty hunter. Also consider networking with more experienced bounty hunters to learn the tricks of the trade. Check out the Professional Bail Agents of the US (PBUS) directory for bail agents in New York State to find job and mentorship opportunities.

    Featured Bail Agents in New York

    In addition to joining professional associations, forming relationships with current bail bond agents can increase your job possibilities. Below are a few well-known and/or highly-rated bail bond agencies across the state of New York.

    A Bail Company, Inc.
    25 E Main St
    Ste 100
    Rochester, NY 14614

    ABC Bail Bonds
    81 Baxter St
    New York, NY 10013

    Bail King LLC
    217 Centre St
    New York, New York 10013

    Bernardo-Goldstein & Quinn Agency, Inc.
    21 Everett Rd Extension
    Albany, NY 12205

    Best Bail Bonds of Central New York
    50 Presidential Plaza
    Ste LL2B
    Syracuse, NY 13202

    Cusetown Bail Bonds
    499 S Warren St
    Ste 700
    Syracuse, NY 13202

    Empire Bail Bonds
    137 Carleton Ave
    Central Islip, NY 11722

    Mark J. Bonfante Bail Bonds
    201 Wellington
    Buffalo, NY 14216

    For a listing of more bail agents and bondsmen in your area, use the Member Search tool on the PBUS website.

    Bail Enforcement Agent Salary and Outlook in New York

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide salary data for bounty hunters, but since the work of private investigators is similar to that of a bounty hunter, we use employment data for private investigators as a proxy. Private investigators in New York have one of the highest levels of employment for private investigators in the country (1,110).2 Private detectives in the state earn an average annual salary of $66,680.3 Projections show that jobs for private investigators in New York are expected to increase by 22.4% through 2030, which is higher than the national expected growth of 13.1% over the same time period.4 The table below shows the average salaries for the largest cities in New York.

    City or Metropolitan AreaNumber Employed3Average Annual Salary3
    Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls120$56,760
    New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ1,210$67,760

    Additional Resources

    Joining professional associations like the New York State Professional Bondsmen & Agents (NYPBA) can help you build your professional network and find new opportunities. Professional associations are also a good way to keep track of professional changes and build out your skillset.

    1. US Census Bureau, New York State: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/NY/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, New York: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ny.htm
    4. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm