South Dakota Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps

Bounty hunters, who are known in South Dakota as bail bond runners or simply “runners,” play an important part in South Dakota’s bail system working to recover fugitives who have skipped bail. Bail bond runners in the state must be licensed by the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation – Division of Insurance and must also be employed by a licensed bail agent, known in South Dakota as a bail bondsperson. Continue reading to find out more about the requirements for earning a bail bond runner’s license in South Dakota.

Requirements for Prospective Bounty Hunters in South Dakota

As noted above, to be a bounty hunter in South Dakota you must be licensed as a bail bond runner. The state sets a number of requirements for those who wish to pursue this license. To be eligible, you must:

  • Be a US citizen at least 21 years of age
  • Have been a resident of South Dakota for at least one year preceding your application
  • Have a clean criminal record
  • Once licensed, continue to actively engage in the bail bond business

You should also note that South Dakota prohibits those who have arrest powers through employment in a law enforcement or criminal justice agency from acting as bail bond runners. Below you will find steps to guide you through the process of earning your bail bond runner’s license.

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

Beyond the basic requirements noted above, you will also need to pass an exam and criminal background check to earn a license to work as a bail bond runner. Obtaining additional training is also recommended, although not currently required under state statute. Below we have outlined the licensing process for bail bond runners in South Dakota.

1. Obtain the appropriate training.

Although state law does not currently require specific training for bail bond runners, it is recommended that those interested in this career consider earning a two- or four-year degree in criminal justice or a related field. Taking this step will help you familiarize yourself with state law and the legal process as well as develop investigative skills that will help you in your career. It can also demonstrate to prospective employers that you take your career seriously.

2. Pass the South Dakota Examination for Bail Bonds.

Earning a passing score on the South Dakota Examination for Bail Bonds is required in order to qualify for a bail bond runner’s license. The exam is administered by Prometric, a third-party testing company contracted through the state. The one-hour exam contains questions on insurance regulation, the criminal justice system, principles of bail bonds, and bail bond practices drawn from South Dakota’s state laws. You can register and pay for the exam through here.

3. Obtain at least one offer of employment as a bail bond runner.

Once you have passed the exam, you are ready for the next step, which is securing a preliminary offer of work. In South Dakota, bail bond runners are not permitted to work independently and must be classified as employees of at least one bail bondsperson or agency. In order to receive a license, a bail bond runner’s application must be accompanied by an appointment form completed by the employing licensed bondsperson, along with an additional $10.00 appointment fee.

While a bail bond runner may work for more than one licensed bondsperson, each bondsperson must register an appointment form and a separate fee with the South Dakota Division of Insurance. You should also be aware that if all appointment forms are revoked by the appointing bondsmen, your runner’s license will be automatically revoked.

4. Apply for a license.

The next step is to apply for a license. You must complete the application provided by the South Dakota Department of Insurance and provide a full-face photograph of yourself, as well as completed fingerprint cards, an authorization and release form, and the appropriate fees.

5. Receive your license.

Once you have completed the above steps, the South Dakota Division of Insurance will issue you a license. Your license will be renewed on the basis of re-appointment form(s) filed by your employer(s) on an annual basis.

Related Careers

Although bail bond runners work directly for bail bondsmen as regularly classified employees in South Dakota, it is still common for these professionals to work in other, similar jobs to earn supplementary income. Below we have provided information on the requirements for two related careers in South Dakota.

Private Investigator/ Private Detective

Private investigators (PIs) and private detectives (PDs) use their skills to uncover information for their clients, which can be legal, financial, or personal in nature. Unlike in many other states, PIs and PDs are not required to be licensed in South Dakota. However, if you intend to collect fees or other monetary benefits for your services, you must have a sales tax license issued by your city or county and submit the appropriate sales tax collections according to your local area’s schedule and reporting requirements.

Process Server

Process servers work to deliver documents, which are typically legal in nature and required to be delivered in person, on behalf of the courts. South Dakota does not require process servers to be licensed. For more information and career opportunities, contact your local court system.

Training and Education Options in South Dakota

As mentioned above, earning a degree in criminal justice or a related field is a strong foundation for your career in fugitive recovery. A formal education can give depth to your understanding of the criminal justice system and help you build the skills required to safely and effectively apprehend fugitives. Below we have identified schools that offer criminal justice programs in South Dakota.

Dakota Wesleyan University
1200 W University Ave
Mitchell, SD 57301

Kilian Community College
300 E 6th St
Sioux Falls, SD 57103

Southeast Tech
2320 N Career Ave
Sioux Falls, SD 57107

University of South Dakota
414 E Clark St
Vermillion, SD 57069

Western Dakota Tech
800 Mickelson Dr
Rapid City, SD 57703

Finding Work

Bail bond runners in South Dakota must be employed by a licensed bondsman when undertaking any activity relating to fugitive recovery. To help you start your career, we have listed a few highly-rated and well-known bail bondspersons in the state.

Featured Bail Bond Agents in South Dakota

A-1 Bail Bonds
7109 W Tweed Trl
Sioux Falls, SD 57106

Always Available Bail Bonds
916 Main St
Rapid City, SD 57701

Black Hills Bail Bonds
1441 Main St
Sturgis, SD 57785

Instant Bail Bonds
1100 S Gordon Dr
Sioux Falls, SD 57710

To find even more bail agents and bondsmen in your area, use the Find a Bail Agent tool on the Professional Bail Agents of the US (PBUS) website.

Bail Bond Runner Salary and Outlook in South Dakota

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track salary or employment data for bounty hunters, but since criminal investigators and detectives perform similar work in the public sector, we have used this career as a proxy. However, you should be aware that wages and benefits for criminal justice professionals in the public sector may vary from the wages and benefits typical for the private sector. As of 2015, there were approximately 210 detectives and criminal investigators working in South Dakota, earning an average annual salary of $69,380.1 Projections Central estimates that state employment for private detectives and investigators, who also perform similar work to that of bounty hunters, will increase by 11.3% through 2022.2

City or Metropolitan AreaNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
East South Dakota Nonmetropolitan Area50$53,240
Rapid City60$73,770
Sioux City, IA-NE-SD40$74,720
Sioux Falls50$86,960
Western South Dakota Nonmetropolitan Area50$60,180

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.1

Additional Resources

  • Midwestern Criminal Justice Association (MCJA) – The members of the MCJA span the midwestern states as well as midwest Canada. The association seeks to promote professional networking and collaboration and is an affiliate of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, South Dakota: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_sd.htm
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm