South Carolina Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps

    South Carolina is home to over 5.1 million people.1 Although using the term “bounty hunter” to describe yourself or your work is not permitted in the state, you can become licensed as a bail bond runner, also known as a runner bondsman. Bail bond runners perform similar work to that of bounty hunters, locating, investigating, and apprehending fugitives who have skipped bail. If you are interested in a career tracking fugitives, follow the steps outlined below to become a bail bond runner in South Carolina.

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    Requirements for Prospective Bail Bond Runners in South Carolina

    Runner bondsmen in South Carolina must be licensed by the South Carolina Department of Insurance (SCDOI), which sets specific requirements for eligibility. Candidates must:

    • Be a resident of South Carolina
    • Be at least 18 years old
    • Have good moral character with no felony convictions in the past 10 years

    In the state, bail bond runners must be employed by a professional bondsman and may not operate independently. If you wish to work as an independent bounty hunter in South Carolina, you must become licensed as a professional bondsman. The examination requirements for this license are the same as for bail bond runners.

    Steps to a Career as a Bail Bond Runner in South Carolina

    Only licensed bondsmen and bail bond runners are permitted to apprehend fugitives in South Carolina. In addition to meeting the qualifications above, you will also need to complete a 30-clock hour pre-licensing course. Continue reading to learn the steps to earning your bail bond runner’s license in South Carolina.

    1. Complete the required pre-licensing course.

    All candidates for a South Carolina runner bondsman license must complete a 30-clock hour pre-licensing course. The course completed must be approved by the SCDOI, which provides a list of approved courses on its website. Upon completing the course, you will need the instructor or another school official to complete the Certification of Completion to verify that you successfully passed the course.

    2. Register for and pass the Professional Bail Bondsman/Runner Exam.

    The next step is to take the Professional Bondsman exam, which is administered by PSI. As of July 2022, the fee for the exam was $49. You can register for the exam online through the PSI website.

    3. Submit an application and background check.

    Once you have passed the exam, you must apply for a runner bondsman’s license. Candidates are asked to apply online through the SCDOI’s chosen vendor, the National Insurance Producer Registry (NIPR). As of July 2022, the fee for a bail bond runner’s license was $200. Along with the application, you must submit two completed fingerprint cards certified by a law enforcement officer. Be prepared to upload the required supporting documents with your application, including the Certificate of Completion from the pre-licensing course, the PSI exam report, and a passport-sized photograph.

    4. Receive and maintain your license.

    Once you have completed the above steps, you will receive your bail bond runner license. South Carolina imposes continuing requirements for bail bond runners to keep their licenses active and in good standing. All bail bond runner licenses expire on June 30 of each year. In order to renew the license, you must have completed at least eight hours of continuing education during the previous year. The license renewal fee is $150 (as of July 2022).

    Related Careers

    While bounty hunting can be a rewarding career, most professional bounty hunters and runner bondsmen choose to cross-train and work in related occupations. This can help ensure that you earn a steady income and help you keep your investigative and other skills up to date.

    Private Investigator/ Private Detective

    Private detectives (PDs) and private investigators (PIs) investigate personal matters (which are commonly legal or financial in nature) for their clients, typically for an hourly rate. In South Carolina, private investigators are licensed and regulated by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). Candidates for a PI license must:

    • Have a clean criminal history
    • Be a US citizen
    • Pass a character and fitness investigation
    • Have three years of full-time experience as an employee of a licensed private investigation agency, as a sworn law enforcement officer, or in an equivalent position

    Once these requirements are met, private investigators may post a $10,000 bond through a licensed surety company and apply for a new private investigation employee license. Note that if you are not working for licensed private investigation agencies as a contractor, you must incorporate and apply for a private investigator business license.

    Process Server

    Process servers are tasked with delivering certain types of legal documents that must be served in person. Process servers in South Carolina are not required to be licensed but must be at least 18 years of age and be designated by the court or approved agent to deliver service of process. These professionals are typically employed by state and local courts and law firms, though private investigators may hire process servers as well.

    Training and Education Options in South Carolina

    While bondsmen are not required to have a college degree in South Carolina, earning a two- or four-year degree in criminal justice or a related field can increase your career opportunities as well as help you improve your skills and earnings potential. Earning a degree also helps show potential clients and employers that you are serious about your profession and have the qualifications to succeed. Below are a few options for criminal justice degree programs and certificates in South Carolina.

    Denmark Technical College
    1126 Solomon Blatt Blvd
    Denmark, SC 29042

    Greenville Technical College
    PO Box 5616
    Greenville, SC 29606

    Horry Georgetown Technical College
    2050 Hwy 501
    East Conway, SC 29528

    Technical College of the Lowcountry
    921 Ribaut Rd
    Beaufort, SC 29901

    TriCounty Technical College
    PO Box 587
    Pendleton, SC 29670

    Trident Technical College
    PO Box 118067
    Charleston, SC 29423

    Finding Work

    Beginning bail bond runners in South Carolina must work for licensed bail bonding agencies. This allows early career professionals to benefit from the expertise of more seasoned agents while developing their own careers. There are also numerous professional criminal justice and bail bond associations in South Carolina and surrounding states that can provide guidance and support. Continue reading to find a listing of featured professional bondsmen in South Carolina.

    Featured Bail Agents in South Carolina

    To assist you in finding career and mentorship opportunities, below we have listed some of the highest-rated and most well-known bail bond companies in South Carolina. According to the Professional Bail Agents of the United States (PBUS), there are five member agents in the state.

    A-1 Adams Bail Agency
    1718 York Hwy
    York, SC 29745

    “A” Bail Now! Bail Bonds, Inc.
    69 Robert Smalls Pkwy
    Ste 2F
    Beaufort, SC 29906

    Carolina Bail Bonding
    9 McGee St
    Greenville, SC 29601

    Donell & Ladawn Bail Bonding
    3239 Hwy 701 N
    Conway, SC 29528

    Giggie’s Bonding Company LLC
    1905 Laurens Rd
    Greenville, SC 29607

    Sinkler Bonding
    3870 Leeds Ave
    North Charleston, SC 29405

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

    Bail Bond Runner Salary and Outlook in South Carolina

    Before making a career choice, it’s a good idea to set realistic salary expectations and determine the potential for job growth. Because the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not collect job data for bounty hunters, we use private detectives and investigators as a proxy since these professionals perform similar work. Nationwide, the average annual salary for private investigators in 2021 was $60,970.2 During the same time period, private investigators in South Carolina–of which there were an estimated 210–earned an average annual salary of $51,8200.3 According to Projections Central, jobs for private investigators in South Carolina are expected to increase by 25% through 2030.4

    City or Metropolitan AreaNumber Employed3Average Annual Salary3
    Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC50$52,310
    Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia NC-SC480$77,290

    Additional Resources

    Especially as a new bail bond runner, joining professional associations can help you make important contacts and expand your network. Below are some bail bond-related associations in South Carolina to consider.

    1. United States Census Bureau Quick Facts, South Carolina: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/SC/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, South Carolina: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_sc.htm
    4. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm