How to Become a Bounty Hunter in California

California may be the most glamorous state in the entire country. It’s the entertainment capital of the world, and holds the single largest economy in the union. For decades, it’s been the heart of stories of hard-boiled pulp detectives hunting down fugitives, as well as the location of some of the most infamous real-life Hollywood murder cases in history. Law enforcement agents in this state have been heroes and villains, but they work doggedly to make sure that fugitives from justice are brought in. Specially trained bounty hunters across the state pursue those who have skipped bail and return them to the courts for their crimes. Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a bounty hunter in California.

Find schools and get information on the program that’s
right for you.
(It’s fast and free!)


Becoming a Bounty Hunter in California

Bounty hunters in California need to undergo very specific training and licensing practices. It’s not an easy path to walk, but it can be very rewarding as you’re helping to keep dangerous people off the streets, and getting paid to do it. Bounty hunters in this state are licensed by the California Department of Insurance, and the laws and regulations outlining their responsibilities, duties and requirements are outlined in Penal Code 1299.

Basic State Requirements

  • Education: A minimum of 20 hours of education via a CDI certified training course is required. Most people take the combined Bail Fugitive Recovery Training and Accelerated Bail Agent Pre-Licensing courses, which carries a $550 fee. Following this, you must complete a California POST-certified course related to Powers of Arrest, which comprises 40 education hours. Finally, 8 hours of certified security guard training is required.
  • Age: To become a California bounty hunter you have to be at least 18 years old.
  • Degree: No specific degree is required, but many fugitive retrieval agents complete associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in related fields like criminal justice.
  • Experience: Part of being a licensed bounty hunter is building a client base. The more successful captures you have, the broader your client relationships will become.
  • Citizenship: California bounty hunters should be both citizens of the U.S. and residents of California.

Additional Requirements

  • Background Screening: Fugitive recovery agents must have no felony convictions (or must carry a Bail Agent license from the CDI). A background check establishes this qualification.
  • All agents must have a $1,000 surety bond against handling collected monies.
  • Examination: The CDI will conduct a bail licensing examination, which you must pass with a minimum score of 70%.

bail enforcement agent california

Application Process in California

  • License Application: Applying for a license as a bail agent in California is optional unless you have a felony conviction, in which case it is requisite. You must, however carry your certified training documentation and exam results with you at all times.
  • Licensure: All bail fugitive retrieval agents in California must complete 6 hours of continuing education every year to maintain their legal status.

Degrees related to Bounty Hunters

Many bounty hunters choose to pursue higher education in a field that will enhance their skills and ability to perform their duties. These can include criminal justice, law, psychology, criminology, sociology or political science.

Major Cities in California

California is a sprawling state with several large cities. By far the largest of these is Los Angeles, with other well-known cities being the state capital of Sacramento, the cities of San Diego and San Francisco, Bakersfield and Fresno. All of these cities have seen the necessity for bounty hunters, and would be good places to seek employment.

Specific Duties of Bounty Hunters in California

Bounty hunters have a basic duty to track down “skippers,” or those who have jumped bail for a crime and are on the run. Fugitive retrieval agents track down these criminals and return them to justice in the county where they were originally wanted. This requires operating within strict legal boundaries, however; bounty hunters may not identify as law enforcement or wear a uniform or gear that marks them as such. They cannot enter a private residence without permission from the owner. They also must carry documentation of their status as a bounty hunter at all times and failure to do so is a felony. Before making an arrest, a bounty hunter is required to notify local law enforcement at least 6 hours prior.

Related Careers

The most closely-related degrees to bounty hunters are private detectives, whose skill at investigation and detection closely mirror the duties of a bounty hunter, and process servers, who deal with court-related paperwork, issuing notices, filing and retrieving legal documents.

Employment Numbers in California

Though the BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) does not track data for bounty hunters, a close approximation of the employment outlook can be had by looking at private detectives, a field that is closely related and is tracked. California is the top employer in the nation for these men and women, and the field is expected to grow by a fifth over the next five years.

Salary Ranges in California

Using the same estimated figures, the average annual earnings across the state of California range around $58,000, but depending on the specific city can be as low as $31,500 or run as high as over $82,000.


Education Programs for Bounty Hunters in California

  • Criminal Justice - Bachelor
Baker College Online
  • Criminal Justice
UEI College - Huntington Park
  • Homeland Security, AA
  • Criminal Justice, BA
  • Criminal Justice, AA
  • Homeland Security, BA
Keiser University eCampus
  • DEM - Emergency Management
Capella University
  • BS - Criminal Justice
Capella University
  • MS - Cybersecurity
Capella University
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Public Administration
Liberty University - Online
  • General-Advanced
  • Online Teaching in Higher Education
  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) - Homeland Security
  • PhD in Criminal Justice - Emergency Management
  • PhD in Criminal Justice - Global Leadership
  • PhD in Criminal Justice - Homeland Security Policy and Coordination
  • PhD in Criminal Justice - Law and Public Policy
  • PhD in Criminal Justice - Public Management and Leadership
Walden University
  • DBA - Criminal Justice
  • DBA - Homeland Security: Leadership & Policy
Northcentral University
  • MBA - Criminal Justice
  • MBA - Homeland Security
Northcentral University
  • A.S. Criminal Justice
  • B.S. Criminal Justice
  • B.S. International Relations and Security - Cybersecurity
  • B.S. International Relations and Security - Global Security
Indiana Wesleyan University - Online
  • Master of Science in Information Assurance
  • MS in Criminology
  • BS in Criminology
  • Graduate Certificate in Information Assurance and Cyber Security
  • Master of Science in Criminology - Cybercrime and Terrorism Focus
  • Master of Science in Criminology - Human Behavior Focus
  • Master of Science in Criminology - Leadership Focus
  • Master of Science in Information Assurance - Cybersecurity Specialization
Regis University- Online
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice
  • MS in Computer Science - Cyber Security
Lewis University - Online
  • BS in Cybersecurity - Information Assurance
  • BS in Cybersecurity - Cybercrime and Fraud Investigation
  • BS in Cybersecurity - Network Forensics and Intrusion Investigation
  • BS in Cybersecurity - Cyber Operations
  • Masters in Financial Crime and Compliance Management
  • MBA Economic Crime and Fraud Management
  • MS Cybersecurity - Intelligence
  • MS Cybersecurity - Computer Forensics
  • MS Cybersecurity - Cyber Operations
  • BS in Criminal Justice - General
  • BS in Criminal Justice - Homeland Security
  • BS in Criminal Justice - Legal Issues in Criminal Justice
  • BS in Criminal Justice - Public Policy and Leadership
  • BS in Criminal Justice - White Collar Crime
  • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
  • Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation
  • BS in Criminal Justice - Cyber Criminology and Policy
  • Computer Forensics Certificate
  • Cyber Crime and Fraud Investigation Certificate
  • Cyber Network Defense Certificate
  • Cyber Operations Certificate
  • Cyber Policy Certificate
  • Cybersecurity Technologies Certificate
  • Financial Crime and Compliance Operations Certificate
  • Financial Crime Investigation Certificate
  • Master of Professional Studies in Cyber Policy and Risk Analysis
  • MBA - Cyber Policy
  • MBA - Cybersecurity
  • Monitoring, Surveillance, and Intelligence Operations Certificate
  • MS in Cybersecurity - Electronic Crime
  • MS in Cybersecurity - Malware Analysis
  • MS in Data Science: Cybersecurity
  • MS in Data Science: Financial Crime
  • Online Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Financial Investigation
  • Online Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Fraud Prevention and Detection
  • Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity
Utica College - Online
  • BS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration
  • Master - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration
  • CTU - Criminal Forensics
Colorado State University - Global