South Dakota Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps

    South Dakota has a population of just under 900,000 people.1 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.

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    Requirements for Prospective Bail Bond Runners 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 and 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 Pearson Vue, 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 online.

    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 (as of August 2022).

    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 ($30 for the license and $43.25 for the background check as of August 2022).

    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

    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

    Arrow Bonding Agency
    916 Main St
    Rapid City, SD 57701

    While there are no member agents in South Dakota, you cano find even more bail agents and bondsmen in neighboring states with the Member Search tool on the Professional Bail Agents of the US (PBUS) website.

    Bail Bond Runner Salary and Outlook in South Dakota

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not track salary or employment data for bail bond runners or bounty hunters, but since criminal investigators and detectives perform similar work in the public sector, we have used this career as a proxy. As of 2021, there were approximately 50 detectives and criminal investigators working in South Dakota, earning an average annual salary of $54,390.2 This was below the 2021 national average for this profession, which was $60,970.3 Projections Central reports an estimated increase in employment of private detectives and investigators of 12.5% through 2030.4

    City or Metropolitan AreaNumber Employed2Average Annual Salary2

    Additional Resources

    • Midwestern Criminal Justice Association (MCJA): Spanning the Midwestern states as well as Midwest Canada, this association seeks to promote professional networking and collaboration and is an affiliate of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

    1. US Census Bureau, South Dakota: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/SD/PST045221
    2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, South Dakota: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_sd.htm
    3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021, Private Detectives and Investigators: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes339021.htm
    4. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm