West Virginia Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps
One of the smallest states with a population of only 1.8 million people, West Virginia allows the profession of bounty hunting.1 In West Virginia, bounty hunters are known as bail bond enforcers and must be registered with the Superintendent of the West Virginia State Police (WVSP). If you have a desire to become a bail bond enforcer in the state, you’ll need to understand the registration requirements and how to find work. Continue reading to learn more about the process for becoming a bail bond enforcer in West Virginia.
Table of Contents
- Bail Bond Enforcer Requirements
- Steps to a Career
- Related Careers
- Training and Education Options
- Finding Work
- Salary and Job Outlook
- Bail Bond Enforcer Resources
Requirements for Prospective Bail Bond Enforcers in West Virginia
Although they are not required to be licensed, bail bond enforcers in West Virginia must meet the minimum requirements set forth by the WVSP before being registered:
- Be a US citizen
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Have no felony convictions from any state
- Have no convictions for any misdemeanor that was violent in nature or involved a weapon
Steps to a Career as a Bail Bond Enforcer in West Virginia
A bail bond enforcer will work on behalf of a bail bondsman to locate and return fugitives who have skipped bail. In West Virginia, a bail bond enforcer may also assist the bail bondsman by presenting the defendant in court or by keeping the defendant under surveillance while he or she awaits their court date. After satisfying the basic requirements for being a bail bond enforcer in West Virginia, you should complete the following recommended steps in order to become registered.
1. Identify a bail bondsman to sponsor you.
As a bail bond enforcer in West Virginia, you must be authorized by a bail bondsman to act as his or her agent. Your “sponsor” bail bondsman must be selected prior to registering with the WVSP. You can provide proof that you will be an authorized agent of a bail bondsman by providing a letter of future employment or a power of attorney.
This would also be a good time to identify an experienced bail bondsman or bail bond enforcer to act as your mentor. A mentor may be able to help you find a bail bondsman to work for who can help you in the beginning stages of your career.
2. Submit the registration information.
Before you can register with the WVSP, you must undergo a criminal background check and be fingerprinted. You must schedule an appointment with IdentoGo to complete your fingerprinting and background check. As of July 2022, the fee was $44.50.
Once you pass your background check, you must submit a full-face photograph of yourself to the state police and a written notice from the bail bondsman who you will work for. The registration form must be requested from the WVSP. By state law, the WVSP can charge no more than $50 for registration.
3. Begin working as a bail bond enforcement agent.
After completing the two steps above, you will become a registered bail bond enforcer in West Virginia. You will be issued an Enforcement Authorization Card, which you must carry with you at all times while working. You may work as a bail bond enforcer for two years with this registration; after that, you have to undergo another criminal background check and pay any fees required for renewal.
Bail bond enforcers may choose to supplement their income by working in similar professions like as a private investigator or process server. By working in either profession, you are able to enhance your investigative experience. Below is a brief summary of the requirements in West Virginia for both professions.
Private Investigator/ Private Detective
Private investigators (PIs), also known as private detectives (PDs), look for information regarding personal, financial, or criminal matters for their clients. Private investigators in West Virginia are licensed by the West Virginia Secretary of State (SOS). To become a licensed private investigator, you must:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Be a US citizen or resident alien
- Have no license revocations in any other state as a private investigator or security guard
- Have no addictions to any narcotics or alcohol
- Have no felony convictions (in any state)
Be sure to review the SOS website for a complete listing of convictions that will disqualify your application as a private investigator.
To become a private investigator, you must have at least two years of experience. The experience can come from a combination of education, training, and work experience in the following areas:
- Courses (or coursework) relating to investigation from an accredited college or university
- Experience in a US government investigative agency
- Experience in a law enforcement agency
- Experience working for a licensed private investigator
- Service as a magistrate (however, you cannot serve as a magistrate and private investigator simultaneously)
If you meet these qualifications, submit an application to the SOS. As of June 2022, the fee for a West Virginia resident individual license was $150.
Process servers work for the courts to file legal papers and serve documents to parties involved in a lawsuit. Process servers in West Virginia must be 18 years of age and authorized by their county court. To get started working as a process server, contact your local court.
Training and Education Options in West Virginia
If you wish to work as a bail bond enforcer, it will be advantageous for you to understand the criminal justice system and human behavior. To gain this knowledge, you should consider obtaining a two- or four-year degree in criminal justice. An associate degree or certificate in criminal justice can complement any other investigative or bail enforcement training that you may already possess. A criminal justice degree program can enhance your knowledge of the legal system and help improve your critical thinking and decision-making skills. Possessing such a degree may also show your employers that you are serious about your career. Listed below are a few schools in West Virginia with criminal justice-related programs in West Virginia.
Blue Ridge Community and Technical College
13650 Apple Harvest Dr
Martinsburg, WV 25403
Bridge Valley Community and Technical College
2001 Union Carbide Dr
South Charleston, WV 25303
Glenville State University
200 High St
Glenville, WV 26351
Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College
3505 Daniel Boone Pkwy
Foster WV 25081
As a part of the registration process, you are required to identify a bail bondsman to work under, so finding work in West Virginia is a bit easier than it is in other states. You should reach out to potential mentors to help you as you begin your bail bond enforcer career. You may also wish to join professional networks or small groups of bail bond enforcers, bail agents, and private investigators to increase your network and gain access to professional resources. Three member bail bond agencies are listed on the Professional Bail Agents of the US (PBUS) website.
Featured Bail Agents in West Virginia
Below are some well-known or highly-rated bail bond agencies in West Virginia. Use these listings to identify a sponsor bondsman and/or future work opportunities.
00 Bail Bonds
201 Prince St
Beckley, WV 25801
A Regional Bail Bonding Co
501 S Raleigh St
Martinsburg, WV 25401
931 Avery St
Parkersburg, WV 26101
After Hours Bail Bonds
116 W Burke St
Martinsburg, WV 25401
Bad Boys Bail Bonds
697 Main St
Rainelle, WV 25962
Elite Bail Bonds
Martinsburg, WV 25401
For a listing of even more bail agents in West Virginia, use the Member Search tool on the PBUS website.
Bail Bond Enforcer Salary and Outlook in West Virginia
Salary data is not provided for bail bond enforcers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), so we use the data provided for private investigators as a proxy. According to the BLS, in 2021 there were approximately 60 private investigators and detectives in West Virginia, with an average annual salary of $54,150.2 The Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV metropolitan area has the fourth-highest employment level for private investigators in the nation.3 It is projected that between now and the year 2030, jobs for private investigators in West Virginia will increase by 25%, with an average of 10 annual job openings including replacements.4
|City or Metropolitan Area||Number Employed2||Average Annual Salary2|
To expand your professional network, consider joining bail bond associations like the one listed below.
- Private Investigator and Security Professionals of West Virginia (PISPWV): Works to increase the professionalism and standards of the industry.
1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, West Virginia: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/WV/PST045221
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, West Virginia: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_wv.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/