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.1 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 work independently for bail bondsmen to apprehend fugitives who have skipped bail. Bail bond agents must be licensed by the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI). Bail bond agents must meet certain criteria in order to become licensed and work in Ohio. Continue reading for more information on licensing requirements and how to find work as a bail bond agent in Ohio.

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    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 ODI will issue a license. Prospective agents 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 follow in order to become licensed in Ohio.

    1. Complete the required training.

    The ODI requires that licensed surety bail bond agents complete 20 hours of pre-licensing education from an approved provider. You may satisfy this requirement by attending classroom training or through an approved self-study course. There are six providers who offer surety bail bond pre-licensing education. The fee for this education varies by provider. 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 pass a criminal background check, which includes fingerprinting. The combined service, state, and FBI fees are $72.25 (as of April 2022).

    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 $42 exam fee (as of April 2022). The ODI provides an outline for the 100-question, multiple-choice exam. In order to pass, you must answer 70% of the questions correctly.

    4. Apply for your license.

    Once you have passed your examination and background check, you can apply online through the National Insurance Producer Register (NIPR) or through the ODI paper application for licensure. As of April 2022, the application fee for a bail bond agent is $150.

    5. Receive your license.

    After the ODI has reviewed and approved your 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 licenses every year by April 1. To renew your license, you must complete seven continuing education (CE) hours each year; six CE hours must be surety bail bond specific and one hour must be an approved ethics course. As of April 2022, the fee to renew the bail bond agent license was $150.

    Related Careers

    Because income for bail bond agents can vary from month to month, many 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 and 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 department of 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 check
    • Provide character references from five unrelated citizens

    Process Server

    Process servers have investigative jobs similar to that of bail bond agents 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. However, by pursuing an education in the field of criminal justice, you will have a better understanding of legal process and procedure and this 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 offers a certificate in criminal justice. Below are a few options in Ohio.

    Northwest State Community College Law Enforcement Academy
    22600 OH-34
    Archbold, OH 43502

    Ohio University Chillicothe Campus Southern Ohio Police Training Institute
    101 University Dr
    Chillicothe, OH 45601

    University of Akron
    302 E Buchtel Ave
    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 to succeed. Bail agents 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 (PBUS) directory, there are seven member 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.

    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.

    Castle Bail Bonds
    20 W Columbia St
    Springfield, OH 45502

    Allstate Bail Bonds
    7149 State Rt 412
    Clyde, OH 43410

    Andy Callif Bail Bonds
    350 S High St
    Columbus, OH 43215

    Atlas Bonding
    5400 Herman Ave
    Cleveland, OH 44102

    Be Free Bail Bonds
    725 E Ave
    Hamilton, OH 45011

    Cincinnati Bail Bonds
    11427 Reed Hartman Hwy
    Ste 102
    Cincinnati, OH 45241

    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
    316 N Michigan
    Ste 200
    Toledo, OH 43604

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

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

    Bail Bond Agent Salary and Outlook in Ohio

    Salary and projection data is not compiled for bail bond agents; because the work of a private investigator is similar in both scope and compensation, we use that career as a proxy. In 2021, Ohio private investigators earned an average annual salary of $50,510.2 Over 1,600 PIs and PDs are employed in Ohio.2 Cincinnati and the greater Columbus metropolitan area are among the metros with the highest concentrations of PIs in the state and in the US.3 According to Projections Central, jobs for PIs are expected to increase by 6.7% in Ohio through 2030.4 Based on the career outlook and salary range, Ohio can be a good state for a motivated person to become a surety bail bond agent.

    City or Metropolitan AreaNumber Employed2Average Annual Salary2
    Cincinnati OH-KY-IN460$54,570
    Cleveland-Elyria, OH400$48,570

    Additional Resources

    The following are groups or associations that you may wish to join to build your network and increase potential job opportunities. You can also check out the PBUS directory for bail agents in Ohio to find job and mentorship opportunities.

    1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Ohio: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/OH/PST045221
    2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021 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 2021, Private Investigators: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes339021.htm
    4. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm