Iowa, also known as the Hawkeye State, is 56,272 square miles of breathtaking heartland prairies, rivers and lakes broken up by a few major cities. It is also a state with a surprising amount of major criminal activity. Seemingly quiet, charming places have unusually high crime rates, such as Council Bluffs, where you have a one in 12 chance of becoming a victim of a crime. These crime rates make bounty hunters — or “Bail Enforcement Agents” as they are referred to in Iowa law — an invaluable part of the Iowa economy, bringing escaped perpetrators back to justice.
Learn how to become a bounty hunter in Iowa and what qualifications can make you competitive for Iowa bounty hunter jobs.
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Becoming a Bounty Hunter in Iowa
Becoming a bounty hunter in Iowa requires licensure and fulfillment of several criteria to establish “sound moral character” and a history of responsible decision-making. The specific criteria and requirements are as follows:
Basic State Requirements
- Education: Bounty hunter have no specific educational or certification requirements to obtain licensure.
- Age: Bail enforcement agents must be at least 18 years old.
- Degree: Iowa does not require a minimum degree or education level for bounty hunters.
- Experience: No prior experience is needed to become a bounty hunter, but the state requires a criminal record clean of certain offenses, and the applicant cannot currently be a peace officer.
- Citizenship: All bail enforcement agents operating in Iowa must be residents of the state, or they must operate under a surety that has residence in the state.
In addition to the above requirements, applicants for a bail enforcement agent’s license must not have:
- Convictions for a felony offence or an aggravated misdemeanor
- A history of repeated acts of violence
- Convictions for a crime described in Iowa Code Chapter 708.3–708.9
- Convictions for illegally using, owning or carrying a dangerous weapon
- Convictions for fraud
- Been judged guilty for crimes involving moral turpitude
Additionally, the applicant must:
- Have a good moral character
- A $5,000 surety bond
- Demonstrate proof of “financial responsibility,” including liability insurance policies and an indication of financial resources in addition to the surety bond
Application Process in Iowa
- Bail Enforcement Agency License Application: Iowa provides applications through their Administrative Services Division of the Iowa Department of Public Safety. You must complete the application online or submit a physical copy along with two passport-style photos. Your application must include a $100 application fee, a $10 identification card fee, two fingerprint cards taken at an approved office, like the Department of Public Safety, and a $30 fingerprint card processing fee.
- Licensure: If your application is approved, you will receive your license as well as an identification card. You may practice as a legal bond enforcement agent as long as you carry your identification card with you at all times and do not violate Iowa law.
Degrees Related to Bounty Hunters
Iowa does not require a degree or specific education program to obtain a license as a bail enforcement agent. However, a degree or some measure of professional training can make you a more effective bail enforcement agent. Degrees in criminal justice, psychology and sociology can all make you more effective at identifying your subject and determining the best time and date to apprehend them.
Major Cities in Iowa
Iowa is a mostly rural state, but there are large population centers in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids metro areas. The next-largest cities are Davenport, Sioux City, Iowa City, Waterloo and Council Bluffs. Many of the less populous cities in Iowa have unusually high crime rate, such as the aforementioned Council Bluffs in addition to Keokuk, Clinton and Fort Dodge.
Specific Duties of Bounty Hunters in Iowa
Bounty hunters in Iowa work with bail bond agencies and law enforcement to identify criminal suspects who have skipped bail. The bounty hunter must then track the suspect and determine a strategy for apprehending them. Bounty hunters must abide by laws applying to citizens; they cannot enter a third party’s home to apprehend a suspect, and they cannot use physical violence or excessive force.
Careers similar to bail enforcement agents in Iowa include: bail bondsmen, private investigators and process servers. Many agents also go on to careers in law enforcement including patrol officer, detectives, corrections officers and similar positions. Obtaining an education in criminal justice or similar fields can help bounty hunters diversify their career.
Employment Numbers in Iowa
Employment data on the number bail enforcement agents in Iowa is unavailable because the license registry is not a matter of public record. However, there are an estimated 15,500 bounty hunters in the U.S. as of 2015.
Salary Ranges in Iowa
Data on average yearly earnings for a bounty hunter in Iowa is unavailable, but the average bounty hunter in the U.S. handles around 100 to 150 cases per year, making an average annual income from $50,000-$80,000.