Tennessee Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps

    Tennessee has a population of over 6.9 million people.1 The state allows bounty hunters to apprehend fugitives who have skipped bail, but it does not license the profession. Bounty hunters in Tennessee must be employed by and work as agents of a professional bondsmen to find and return defendants who have “skipped” bail. If you’re interested in a career as a bounty hunter in Tennessee, read this guide to learn more about the process.

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    Requirements for Prospective Bounty Hunters in Tennessee

    Although the bounty hunting profession is not licensed in Tennessee, the state has identified some minimum requirements that hopeful bounty hunters must meet. Chapter 40-11-318 of the Tennessee Annotated Code provides information on the requirements to become a bounty hunter in the state. To become employed as a bounty hunter in Tennessee, you must:

    • Be a resident of the state of Tennessee and a US citizen
    • Have no felony convictions

    Steps to a Career as a Bounty Hunter in Tennessee

    The process to become a bounty hunter in Tennessee is relatively simple: you must have the proper training and complete a criminal background check. Bounty hunters in the state of Tennessee must work for a professional bail bondsman. For a fee paid by the bail bondsman, bounty hunters apprehend fugitives who have failed to appear in court. In Tennessee, the steps to becoming a bounty hunter are as follows:

    1. Complete the required training.

    The state of Tennessee requires all bounty hunters to complete a training course on the bail system, such as those offered by the Tennessee Association of Professional Bail Agents (TAPBA). Bounty hunter training will typically include surveillance techniques, interviewing skills, investigative methods, and laws and rules relating to bail recovery in Tennessee. Upon completing the training class, you will receive a pocket card certifying that you have completed the mandatory training. In addition to the required training course, it could also benefit your career to obtain a certificate or two-year degree in criminal justice or a related field. A degree in criminal justice focuses on real-world applications and practical skills related to the legal system.

    2. Complete a criminal background check.

    To locate fugitives in Tennessee, you must have a clean criminal history. The state of Tennessee verifies this by conducting state and federal criminal background checks. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) recommends using its preferred vendor for the criminal background check, which is IdentoGO. As of May 2022, the fees for the state and federal background checks through this vendor were $35.15.

    3. Begin working as a bounty hunter.

    After passing the background check and obtaining the required training, you will become eligible to work as a bounty hunter in Tennessee. To lawfully catch fugitives, you must have credentials from a professional bail bondsman in Tennessee certifying that you are working on his or her behalf. Credentials could be an affidavit certifying that you are working with a bail bondsman or employment papers. You must also carry with you a pocket card showing that you completed the required training and a certified copy of the bond. It is recommended that you contact the local sheriff’s office for assistance prior to chasing and apprehending a fugitive, for your own safety and to ensure you are following the rules of arrest.

    To stay current on laws and changes in the bail system, bounty hunters must take eight hours of continuing education (CE) each year. Bounty hunters can register for CE credits with TAPBA.

    Related Careers

    Many bounty hunters supplement their income with similar jobs when not hunting a fugitive. Jobs that bounty hunters may pursue include private investigator (PI) work or working as a process server. If you are interested in working in either of these professions, you’ll need to understand the state’s requirements.

    Private Investigator/ Private Detective

    In Tennessee, private investigators (PIs) or private detectives (PDs) are licensed by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance. PIs work for clients to look into legal, financial, and personal matters. To become licensed, you must:

    • Be 21 years of age or older
    • Be a US citizen or resident alien
    • Not have been declared incompetent due to mental defect or disease by any court
    • Not have a dependence on alcohol or other drugs
    • Complete a criminal background check

    As of May 2022, the license and application fees for PIs in Tennessee were $250. For more information on becoming a PI in Tennessee or to apply, visit the forms and downloads page of the Department’s website.

    Process Server

    A process server works for the court system to file legal papers, serve documents to parties involved in lawsuits, and retrieve documents as needed. If you’re interested in becoming a process server, you must be at least 18 years of age and US citizen. Generally, process servers in Tennessee are not required to be licensed; however, in Shelby County, process servers must be appointed by the Shelby County Clerk. For more information, visit your county clerk’s office.

    Training and Education Options in Tennessee

    Before working in the field, bounty hunters should have a good understanding of the criminal justice system in Tennessee. To ensure that you understand the laws as they relate to bail and the civil rights of the accused, you should consider obtaining a two- or four-year degree in criminal justice or a related field. Many schools in the state offer associate degrees in criminal justice. Possessing a degree will show employers that you take your career seriously. Here are a few schools in Tennessee that offer certificate programs or associate degrees in criminal justice.

    Cleveland State Community College
    3535 Adkisson Dr
    Cleveland, TN 37312

    Columbia State Community College
    795 Main St
    Clifton, TN 38425

    Volunteer State Community College
    150 Laureate Ave
    Springfield, TN 37172

    Finding Work

    Bounty hunting is a field in which networking will be critical to your success. To find work, you should know of some existing bail bondsmen and feel comfortable reaching out to let them know you are available for work. The Professional Bail Agents of the US (PBUS) lists 12 member bail bondsmen working in Tennessee. To further increase your chances at finding steady work, join local bail bond associations like TAPBA to meet mentors and to find job shadowing opportunities.

    Featured Bail Bond Agents in Tennessee

    Listed below are some of the most well-known and top-rated bail bond agents in Tennessee. Use this list to start to reach out to potential employers.

    A-1 Bonding Company
    2345 E Magnolia Ave
    Knoxville, TN 37917

    All n One Bail Bonds
    238 Poplar Ave
    Ste 1
    Memphis, TN 38103

    Bail U Out Bonding
    404 James Robertson Pkwy
    Ste LL3
    Nashville, TN 37219

    Brooke’s Bail Bonding
    1321 3rd Ave N
    Nashville, TN 37208

    Free At Last Bail Bonding
    504 3rd Ave N
    Ste E
    Nashville, TN 37201

    Grumpy’s Bail Bonds
    117 Union St
    Nashville, TN 37201

    M & M Bail Bond Co
    144 N 3rd St
    Memphis, TN 38103

    Sanford & Sons Bail Bonds Inc
    318 Winona St
    Knoxville, TN 37917

    To locate even more bail agents in Tennessee, you can use the Find a Bail Agent tool on the PBUS website.

    Bounty Hunter Salary and Outlook in Tennessee

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide salary data for bounty hunters, so we use data for private investigators as a proxy due to the similarity in job functions. As of 2021, an estimated 400 PIs were employed in Tennessee, and they earned an average annual salary of $57,970.2 Jobs for private investigators in Tennessee are projected to increase by 5.5% through 2030, with 70 average job openings per year including replacements.4

    City or Metropolitan AreaNumber Employed2Average Annual Salary2
    Memphis, TN-MS-AR90$58,480

    Additional Resources

    Check out these professional associations in Tennessee to help build and grow your network.

    1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Tennessee: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/TN/PST045221
    2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021, Tennessee: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_tn.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