Washington Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps
In Washington, the bounty hunting profession is regulated by the Washington State Department of Licensing. The state, with a population of 7.1 million people, uses the title “bail bond recovery agent” for those who practice bounty hunting.1 Bail bond recovery agents apprehend fugitives who have “skipped” bail. To learn more about the licensure requirements for bail bond recovery agents in Washington, continue reading this guide.
Requirements for Prospective Bounty Hunters in Washington
It is unlawful to act as a bail bond recovery agent in Washington without holding a license. The Department has developed minimum requirements for all bail bond recovery agents. If you wish to become licensed in Washington, you must:
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Be a US citizen or resident alien
- Have no felony or misdemeanor convictions that would interfere with your ability to act as a bail bond recovery agent
- Have a high school diploma or GED*
*In lieu of a high school diploma or GED, you can apply for a bail bond recovery agent license if you have three years of experience in the bail bond industry.
Steps to a Career as a Bail Bond Recovery Agent in Washington
If you meet those basic standards, you are eligible to apply for licensure as a bail bond recovery agent in Washington. The bail bond recovery agent licensure process has four steps: you must have the appropriate experience, pass an examination, submit an application, and finally, receive your license. To become a licensed bail bond recovery agent in Washington, you must follow these steps:
1. Gain the required experience.
The Washington Department of Licensing requires bail bond recovery agents to have 32 hours of training to apply for licensure. You must complete training in the following subject matters:
- Civil or criminal law
- Field operations procedures*
- Firearms and defensive tools training
Training in criminal or civil law may be completed formally, in a classroom setting, or may be completed through self-study. Field operations training must take place through a private or public instruction; self-study is not allowed. If you have completed field operations training within the past six years (by a municipal, state, or federal law enforcement agency, or through any branch of the military as a peace officer), you will not have to complete an additional training. Proof of completion of the training will be required with your application. You must be trained and certified to use a taser (X/M26), baton, and an oleo capsicum (OC) resin (or “pepper”) spray. Your firearms training and certification must be completed by a Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) firearms instructor.
All training requirements must be completed within 12 months of submitting your application. You must provide your training dates, the curriculum, and a certification or transcript as proof of completion when you submit your application.
2. Obtain a concealed pistol license.
All bail bond recovery agents are required to have a concealed pistol license. Licenses are issued at either your county sheriff’s office (if you live in an unincorporated area) or your local police department or sheriff’s office (if you live in an incorporated city or town). You will be required to submit to a background check prior to receiving a concealed pistol license in Washington. Concealed pistol licenses are valid for five years. Fees will vary by municipality.
3. Submit an application.
To become a licensed bail bond recovery agent in Washington, you must submit an application to the Department. As of March 2016, the fee for licensure in Washington is $450. You application must include the following documents:
- Proof of 32 hours of mandatory training including certifications in taser, baton, and oleo capsicum resin spray
- The fingerprinting card*
- A copy of your concealed pistol license
- Firearms certification from CJTC
*By submitting the fingerprint card, you will also be submitting to a criminal background check. The background check process takes about four to six weeks.
4. Take and pass the exam.
After completing the required training and submitting your application, you must take and pass the bail bond recovery agent exam. The exam is a 50-question, multiple-choice exam. To pass, you must answer at least 85% of the questions correctly. The Department will notify you to schedule the exam after your application and fees have been received.
If you fail the exam on your first attempt, you may retake it by completing the bail bond recovery agent re-exam application and paying the $25 fee (as of March 2016).
5. Receive your license.
After completing the steps above and passing the exam, you will become a licensed bail bond recovery agent in Washington. Bail bond recovery agent licenses must be renewed each year; although there are continuing education requirements for bail bond agents, there are no continuing education requirements for bail bond recovery agents. As of March 2016, the fee to renew a bail bond recovery agent license is $475.
Bounty hunters may supplement their income by working as private investigators or process servers. You must have a certain set of skills to be successful as a bounty hunter and those skills can be transferred to these two other professions while providing a supplemental income during slower times. The following text provides a brief description of these two jobs the requirements of Washington State.
Private Investigator/Private Detective
Private investigators (PIs) work for individuals or groups and investigate various types of information for their client. In Washington, PIs must be licensed by the Washington State Department of Licensing. PI licensure applicants must be a US citizen or resident alien and at least 18 years of age if applying for an unarmed PI agency license. If you are applying for an armed PI Agency license, you must be at least 21 years of age. Prior to applying, you must have three years of investigative experience and be able to obtain a certificate of liability insurance (or a $10,000 surety bond).
Process servers serve legal documents and court actions to parties involved in a lawsuit of judgment. Process servers Washington must be at least 18 years of age and must register with their county clerk’s office.
Training and Education Options in Washington
Bail recovery agents should look to increase their knowledge of the criminal justice field by obtaining a two- or four-year degree program in criminal justice or a related field. Some schools have certificate programs that you can apply for. Pursuing a formal degree will give you a better understanding of the field and the legal system. Having formal education under your belt will also show bail bondsmen, your potential employers, that you are serious about your career. Below are a few schools in Washington that offer two-year degrees in criminal justice.
3000 Landerholm Cir SE
Bellevue, WA 98007
Everett Community College
2000 Tower St
Everett, WA 98201
502 E Boone Ave
Spokane, WA 99202
Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom
9401 Farwest Dr SW
Lakewood, WA 98498
Additionally, the Spokane Bail Enforcement Academy offers professional training courses for aspiring and current professionals:
Spokane Bail Enforcement Academy
1211 W Northwest Blvd
Spokane, WA 99205
As you embark on a career as a bail recovery agent, you must have a solid plan on how to acquire work. It is smart to try to build relationships with bail bondsmen and experienced bail enforcement agents. You may wish to find a mentor to “show you the ropes” of bounty hunting and try to identify any apprenticeship programs in Washington. Join bail bond associations in your area or at least try to attend some open meetings and network events. Lastly, be prepared to sell yourself to potential employers by showing them that your skills and experience make you best for the job.
Featured Bail Agents in Washington
According to the Professional Bail Agents of the United States (PBUS) website, there are 31 member bail agents listed in the state. Listed below are some of the most well-known and highly-rated bail bondsmen in Washington.
A Pegasus Bail Bonds and Investigations
5021 N Market St
Spokane, WA 99217
ABC Day-N-Night Bail Bonds
1110 Yakima Ave
Tacoma, WA 98405
Acme Bail Bonds
726 N Monroe St
Spokane, WA 99201
A-Affordable Bail Bonds
1809 Wall St
Tacoma, WA 98402
All City Bail Bonds
601 6th Ave
Seattle, WA 98104
All Pro Bail Bonds
300 W Mill Plain Blvd, Ste 300
Vancouver, WA 98660
Lacy O’Malley Bail Bonds
601 Third Ave
Seattle, WA 98104
Pacific Northwest Bail Bonding
407 26th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98144
Signature Bail Bonds
910 Tacoma Ave S
Tacoma, WA 98402
The Bail Co Bail Bonds
1001 Cooper Point Rd SW, Ste 140
Olympia, WA 98502
For even more bail agents in Washington, try out the PBUS Find a Bail Agent tool.
Bounty Hunter Salary and Outlook in Washington
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide salary data for bail recovery agents or bounty hunters, so we use data for private investigators (PIs) as a proxy. Private investigators in Washington earn the fourth highest average salary in the nation ($59,220).2 360 PIs are employed in the state; projections show that jobs for private investigators will increase by 19.5% between now and 2022.2,3 The table below provides employment numbers and salary data for some of the largest cities or metro areas in Washington.
|City or Metropolitan Area||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary||Seattle-Bellevue-Everett||210||$51,720||Spokane||N/A*||$102,090|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.2
Check out the following associations in Washington to grow your professional network and search for job opportunities.
- Washington State Bail Agents Association – An association that advocates for bail agents and provides continuing education, networking opportunities, and resources.
- Washington Association of Legal Investigators – An association for PIs in Washington that promotes education and training of licensed investigators in the state.
1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Washington: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/WA/PST045219
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015, Private Investigators: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes339021.htm
3. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm