How to Become a Bounty Hunter in Illinois

Known as the “Land of Lincoln”, Illinois is a state whose more than twelve million residents couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. In addition to being a fantastic place to live, Illinois is also one of the very few states where the profession of bounty hunting is illegal. This is because the state does not possess a private bail bond system. However, Illinois does allow for similar professions, such as private investigation.

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 Becoming a Private Investigator in Illinois

There are several steps to becoming a private investigator in Illinois. Before you can begin working as a private investigator in Illinois, however, you must meet certain requirements.

Basic Requirements

  • Education: You can apply for a license based on education. You should have a bachelor’s degree in an area related to private investigation, such as law enforcement or business.
  • Age: Private investigators in Illinois must be at least 21 years-old.
  • Citizenship: There are no citizenship requirements.
  • Experience: For experience based applicants, you must have three years of work experience as a full-time investigator. This experience can be working for a detective agency, for an attorney, for a company with more than 100 employees or for the military. You can also work as an investigator for a public attorney’s office, a law enforcement agency or as a detective in another state.

Additional Requirements

  • Health: You must be free from physical or mental illnesses.
  • Criminal History: Illinois private investigators cannot have been charged with a felony in the past ten years.
  • Substance Abuse: You cannot be addicted to drugs or alcohol.
  • Fingerprint: You must submit a fingerprint and undergo a criminal background check.
  • Examination: Illinois investigators must take a 70-question exam and pass with a score higher than 70. The exam costs $298.

bail enforcement agent illinois

 Steps for Licensure

To become a private investigator in Illinois, you will need to file an application with the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR). If you want a license from another state recognized, you will need to submit a Certificate by Licensing form.

Before licensure, you will need to provide the IDFPR with any necessary documents and pay a $298 application fee. If you are applying based on application, you will need to provide a certification of education form and a Verification of Employment form. Those applying based on experience only need to provide the Employment form. Your license will need to be renewed every three years for $150.

 Related Degrees

Any degree that relates to law enforcement will be helpful to a private investigator. Subjects like criminology, psychology and methods of investigation are particularly useful.

 Similar Careers

The most similar career to a private investigator is that of a law enforcement officer. Working as a process server also has similar responsibilities.

 Major Cities in Illinois

The most famous city in Illinois is Chicago, which is the home of the Willis tower. However, Peoria is the state’s oldest town. Springfield is actually the state’s third capitol. The first two were Kaskaskia and Vandalia.

 Duties of a Private Investigator

Private investigators have very similar duties to that of law enforcement officers. They employ evidence and investigate crimes. However, generally, private investigators are employed by private citizens and companies.

 Number of Private Investigators in Illinois

It is estimated that 850 private investigators are currently working in Illinois. 630 of those investigators, as recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, work in the Chicago area. The career of private investigation is expected to grow by 11%.


When working as a private investigator in Illinois, you can expect to earn an average yearly salary of $46,140.

Additional Reading

Read more about becoming an Illinois private investigator.

Education Programs for Bounty Hunters in Illinois

  • Criminal Justice, MA
  • Homeland Security, MA
Keiser University Graduate School
  • Homeland Security, AA
  • 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
  • JM: American Legal Studies
  • JM: General
  • JM: Health Law
  • JM: International Legal Studies
  • JM: Special Student (Non-Degree Seeking) - Legal Studies
  • LLM: International Legal Studies
  • MPA: Law & Public Policy
  • MS: Criminal Justice
  • MS: Criminal Justice: Forensic Psychology
  • MS: Criminal Justice: Homeland Security
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
  • Doctor of Criminal Justice
Northcentral University
  • MS in Criminal Justice
  • MS in Criminal Justice: Advanced Counterterrorism & Homeland Security concentration
  • MS in Criminal Justice: Public Safety Administration concentration
Southern New Hampshire University - Online
  • Associate in Science Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with concentration in Criminology
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with concentration in Homeland Secu
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with concentration in Legal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with concentration in Police Admini
  • BS Criminal Justice w/conc Human Services
  • BS Criminal Justice w/conc in Corrections
Southern New Hampshire University - Online
  • MS: Criminal Justice - Critical Incident Management
  • MS: Criminal Justice
  • MS: Criminal Justice - Corrections
  • MS: Criminal Justice - Criminal Investigation
  • MS: Criminal Justice - Forensic Science
  • MS: Criminal Justice - Legal Studies
  • DCJ: Education
  • DCJ: Homeland Security
  • MBA: Cybersecurity Management
  • MS: Criminal Justice - Behavioral Studies
  • MS: Criminal Justice - Non-Degree Seeking
Saint Leo University - Online
  • AA: Criminal Justice
  • BA: Criminal Justice
  • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
  • BA: Criminal Justice - Homeland Security
Saint Leo University - Online
  • BS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration
  • Master - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration
  • CTU - Criminal Forensics
Colorado State University - Global