Virginia Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps

    Bounty hunting is an integral part of Virginia’s private bail system. In Virginia, which has a population of 8.6 million people, bounty hunters are referred to as bail enforcement agents (although “bounty hunter” is a legal term in the state).1 Bail enforcement agents are licensed by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). To learn more about the requirements to become a bail enforcement agent in Virginia, continue reading below.

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    Requirements for Prospective Bail Enforcement Agents in Virginia

    As a part of the licensure process, the DCJS has developed minimum requirements that all bail enforcement agents in Virginia must meet. To become a bail enforcement agent, you must:

    • Be at least 21 years of age
    • Be a US citizen or resident alien
    • Possess a high school diploma or GED

    Steps to a Career as a Bail Enforcement Agent in Virginia

    Beyond meeting the minimum requirements stated above, a combination of bail enforcement training, a background check, and submitting the appropriate documentation are needed to become licensed. Continue reading below to familiarize yourself with the bail enforcement agent licensure process in Virginia.

    1. Obtain the appropriate training.

    The DCJS requires 40 hours of bail enforcement training (called 44E) for all candidates seeking licensure. You can find a course outline on the DCJS website. Training consists of ethics, Virginia legislation and basic law, the court system, and fugitive recovery specifics. Pricing for the training will vary; check with approved education providers for fee information. At the end of the 44E course, you will have to take and pass the written course examination.

    If you have completed entry-level law enforcement training (like police academy training) and have at least five continuous years of law enforcement experience OR you have previous bail enforcement training and have been employed for five straight years as a bail agent or fugitive recovery agent, you may be partially exempt from the 40-hour training course.

    2. Submit an application.

    Upon completing the training, you must submit your bail enforcement agent application to the DCJS. Along with the application, you must include:

    To submit your fingerprinting application, you must show proof of legal presence.

    If you have ever been found guilty of a misdemeanor or felony, you must provide with your fingerprinting application a criminal history supplemental form. The criminal history form requests additional information on the charges you were found guilty of and information regarding your parole or probation. The fingerprinting application also acts as your consent to a background check.

    The firearms endorsement application certifies that you can legally carry a firearm in the state of Virginia. This endorsement must be renewed annually.

    3. Receive your license.

    After completing the steps listed above, you will become a licensed bail enforcement agent in Virginia. Bail enforcement agents must renew their licenses every two years. To renew, you must complete eight hours of bail enforcement in-service training and pay the $200 renewal fee (as of May 2022). Renewal applications must include a new fingerprinting application and a firearms endorsement application (plus fees).

    As noted above, although license renewal is biennial, you must renew your firearms endorsement every year.

    Related Careers

    Many bail enforcement agents work similar jobs like a private detective (PD) or process server during their downtime. These jobs allow bail enforcement agents to gain valuable experience and supplement their income. Continue reading to learn more about the requirements for PDs and process servers in Virginia.

    Private Investigator/ Private Detective

    Private investigators (PIs) or PDs work to find information on a particular subject or person(s) for their client. PIs are licensed by the DCJS. To apply for licensure, you must:

    • Be at least 18 years of age
    • Be a US citizen or legal resident alien
    • Complete 60 hours of training

    All PIs must be fingerprinted and pass a criminal background check. For more information or to apply, visit the Private Investigator registration page.

    Process Server

    A process server works for Virginia’s Judicial System or may be on retainer with a law firm. Process servers file legal papers, serve documents to parties involved in a lawsuit, and retrieve documents as needed. To work in Virginia, process servers must be at least 18 years of age. Licensure or registration is not required, but process servers must submit Form CC-1407 to the court for each service made. For more information on becoming a process server in Virginia, visit the county clerk’s office of the county where you intend to work.

    Training and Education Options in Virginia

    The Virginia DCJS does not require formal education for licensed bail enforcement agents. However, possessing a two- or four-year degree in criminal justice or a related field can increase your overall knowledge of the legal system and may boost your ability to find bail enforcement jobs. Listed below are some colleges that offer associate degrees in criminal justice.

    Blue Ridge Community College
    Box 80, One College Ln
    Weyers Cave, VA 24486

    Central Virginia Community College
    3506 Wards Rd
    Lynchburg, VA 24502

    Virginia Western Community College
    3094 Colonial Ave
    Roanoke, VA 24015

    Finding Work

    Without an active network in place, bail enforcement agents new to the field may find it a daunting task to secure fugitive recovery jobs. To help increase your chances of landing steady work and to gain bail enforcement experience, you should look for a more experienced bail enforcement agent to act as your mentor. Some bail bondsmen may have (or know of) apprenticeship programs; reach out to active bail bondsmen to start making connections in the field.

    Featured Bail Agents in Virginia

    The Professional Bail Agents of the US (PBUS) listing shows that there are seven member bail agents employed in the state. Listed below are some well-known and highly-rated bail bond agencies in Virginia.

    3 Guys Bail Bonds
    2100 Mediterranean Ave
    Ste 46
    Virginia Beach, VA 23451

    Aarrow Bail Bonds
    2015 W Laburnum Ave
    Ste 105
    Richmond, VA 23227

    All Night & Day Bailbonds
    3330 Bourbon St
    Ste 104
    Fredericksburg, VA 22408

    Corky’s Bail Bonds Inc.
    PO Box 1165
    Virginia Beach, VA 23451

    Family Bail Bonds
    1745 Jefferson Davis Hwy
    Stafford, VA 22554
    Virginia Beach, VA 23464

    James Bondsman Bail Bonds
    1925 Cedarhurst Dr
    Richmond, VA 23225

    Half/Down Bail Bonds
    10640 Page Ave
    Fairfax, VA 22030

    Liberty Bail Bondsman
    46 Investors Pl
    Ste 204D
    Virginia Beach, VA 23452

    Michael’s Bail Bond Co.
    962 Hollymeade Cir
    Newport News, VA 23602

    Pinchback’s Bonding Co.
    1500 Magnolia St
    Richmond, VA 23222

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

    Bounty Hunter Salary and Outlook in Virginia

    When starting a new career, you should be informed about salary information and job growth data. Because the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide data for bail enforcement agents, we use data for private investigators as a proxy. In Virginia, there were 1,500 private investigators employed as of 2021, with an average annual salary of $75,800.2 This is higher than the national average for private investigators, which was $60,970 per year during the same time period.3 Projections Central reports that jobs for PIs in Virginia are expected to increase by 17.2% through 2030, with an estimated 290 average annual openings (including replacements).4 The table below provides salary data for private investigators in large cities in Virginia.

    City or Metropolitan AreaNumber Employed2Average Annual Salary2
    Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV1,030$81,530

    Additional Resources

    Read below to discover professional associations for bail bondsmen and private investigators in Virginia.

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