Ohio Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements & Steps

Nearly 12 million people live in the state of Ohio and the state allows for the licensing of bail bond agents (a.k.a. bounty hunters).1 Bounty hunters often work independently as agents for bail bondsmen to apprehend fugitives who have skipped bail. In Ohio, using the titles “bounty hunter” or “bail enforcement agent” is illegal and considered a first-degree misdemeanor. Repeat violators will be charged with a felony after three convictions. Instead, individuals who wish to pursue fugitives in the state of Ohio are referred to as “surety bail bond agents” or just “bail bond agents” for short. Bail bond agents are licensed by the Ohio Department of Insurance. Bail bond agents must be licensed and meet a certain set of criteria in order to work in Ohio. Continue reading for more information on licensing requirements and how to find work as a bounty hunter in Ohio.

Requirements for Prospective Bail Bond Agents in Ohio

Individuals who apprehend fugitives in Ohio without a surety bail bond agent license will be subject to arrest and prosecution. In order to become a licensed bail bond agent, you must meet these basic requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be a US citizen or have the legal right to work in the US
  • Be a resident of Ohio

Steps to a Career as a Surety Bail Bond Agent in Ohio

Aspiring surety bail bond agents in Ohio must complete certain steps before the Department will issue them a license. Bounty hunters must meet the minimum training experience, pass an examination, and pay the required fee prior to being licensed. Continue reading below to understand the process bail bond agents must go adhere to in order to become licensed by the Ohio Department of Insurance.

1. Complete the required training.

The Department requires that licensed surety bail bond agents complete 20 hours of pre-licensing education. You may satisfy this requirement by attending a classroom training or through an approved self-study course. There are five providers who offer surety bail bond pre-licensing education. The fee for this education may vary, but it will cost on average $250. Once you complete the class and receive your certificate of completion, you must take and pass the exam within 180 days.

2. Get a background check.

After completing the pre-licensing education, but before scheduling an exam, you must take and pass a criminal background check, which includes fingerprinting. The state and federal criminal background checks will cost $66. If you complete your fingerprinting and background check at the testing site, the fee will be $71 (as of February 2016).

3. Take and pass the surety bail bond agent examination.

Upon passing the background check, you must schedule and take the surety bail bond exam and pay the $49.50 exam fee* and the $25 processing fee*. The Department provides an outline for the 100-question, multiple-choice exam. In order to pass, you must answer 70% of the questions correctly.
*As of March 2016.

4. Apply to the Department of Insurance.

Once you have passed your examination and background check, you can apply online or on paper for licensure to the Department of Insurance. As of March 2016, the application fee for a bail bond agent is $150.

5. Receive your license.

After the Department has reviewed and approved your bounty hunter licensure application, you will become licensed in the state of Ohio. Once your license has been approved, you must contact Prometric (the testing provider) for your Surety Bail Bond wallet card (with photo ID).

Bail bond agents must renew their license every year by the end of February. To renew, you must complete seven continuing education (CE) hours each year; six CE hours must be bounty hunter specific and one hour must be an approved ethics course. As of March 2016, the fee to renew the bail bond agent license was $150.

Related Careers

Because income for a bounty hunter can vary from month to month, many surety bail bond agents diversify their careers by working in similar professions, most commonly as a private detective or a process server. Continue reading for a summary of both of these career options information on how to apply in Ohio.

Private Investigator/Private Detective

A private investigator (PI) or private detective (PD) works to gather information for a client. The client can be an individual, a group, an organization, or a business. Private investigators may investigate a number of issues relating to personal, financial, or legal matters. In Ohio, private investigators must be licensed by the state’s Private Investigator Security Guard Services. PIs and PDs in Ohio must:

  • Have no felony convictions within the past three years
  • Have at least two years of previous investigative work experience for a law enforcement agency, work for a private investigator, or have practiced law
  • Take the required exam
  • Pass a criminal background
  • Provide character references from five unrelated citizens

Process Server

Process servers have jobs similar to bounty hunters in that they must identify their target, but they only serve their target with legal papers as opposed to apprehending them like a surety bail bond agent would. Process servers do not need to be licensed in Ohio and the profession is not regulated. In Ohio, court clerks send the process documents to be served to a local sheriff and the sheriff serves all required parties with their legal papers. In the case of processes issued from the municipal court, the bailiff will serve all required parties with the legal documents. Process servers must be 18 years of age or older. For more information on becoming a process server in Ohio, contact the county clerk in your hometown.

Training and Education Options in Ohio

In Ohio, surety bail bond agents are not required to attend a two or four-year college. By pursuing an education in the field of criminal justice, you will have a better understanding of legal process and procedure and it may lead to increased job opportunities. To show that you are serious about your profession, you should consider attending a two-year criminal justice degree program or a program that offer a certificate in criminal justice. Below are a few options, including one police academy that trains non-law enforcement students.

Bryant & Stratton College
35350 Curtis Blvd
Eastlake, OH 44095

Northwest State Community College
22600 OH-34
Archbold, OH 43502

University of Akron College of Business
259 S Broadway
Akron, OH 44325

Finding Work

Becoming a surety bail bond agent is essentially starting a new business, and all new businesses need a plan to acquire clients and to succeed. Bounty hunters should strive to network and build relationships with more experienced agents in their city to start getting steady work. According to the Professional Bail Agents of the US directory, there are nearly 30 bail bondsmen in Ohio. As you start your career, reach out to existing agencies and look for a mentor or an apprenticeship opportunity to learn the ropes.

Check out the Professional Bail Agents of the US directory for bail agents in Ohio to find job and mentorship opportunities.

Featured Bail Agents in Ohio

Here are a few highly-rated and/ or well-known bail bondsmen in Ohio you can connect with to find work, possible mentors, and connect with other experienced surety bail bond agents.

AA Able Bail Bonds
330 S High St
Columbus, OH 43215

AA Castle Bail Bonds
41 N Center
Columbus, OH 43201

Allstate Bail Bonds
575 W Main St
Ste 235
Batavia, OH 45103

Andy Callif Bail Bonds
350 S High
2nd Fl
Columbus, OH 43215

Atlas Bonding
5400 Herman Ave
Cleveland, OH 44102

Be Free Bail Bonds
725 E Ave
Hamilton, OH 45011

Cincinnati Bail Bonds
Loft 633 Walnut St
Cincinnati, OH 45202

City Bonding Bail Bonds
1200 W 3rd St
Ste 190
Cleveland, OH 44113

Jeff Brown Bail Bonds
32 N Wilkinson St
Dayton, OH 45402

Smith Bonds & Security
2400 Orange Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44101

Woody Fox Bail Bonds
289 S 3rd St
Columbus, OH 43215

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 Ohio

Salary and projection data is not compiled for bail enforcement agents; because the work of a private investigator is similar in both scope and compensation, we use that career as a proxy. In 2015, private investigators earned an average annual salary of $43,430.2 Over 1,000 PIs and PDs are employed in Ohio and the state has one of the top ten metropolitan areas for employment as a PD (Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor).2,3 According to Projections Central, jobs for PIs are expected to increase by 10% in Ohio through 2022.4 Based on the career outlook and salary range, Ohio would be a good state for a motivated person to become a surety bail bond agent.

City or Metropolitan AreaNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-INN/A*$47,690
Cleveland-Elyria, OH420$39,960

Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.2
*Estimate not provided by the BLS.

Additional Resources

The following are groups or associations that you may wish to join to build your network and increase potential job opportunities.

1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Ohio: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/OH/PST045219
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Ohio: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_oh.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015, Private Investigators: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes339021.htm
4. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm