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How to Get a Bail Bondsman License: Information and Requirements

A bail bondsman, also known as a bail agent, helps an incarcerated individual post the bail set by a court so that he or she can be released from jail. In return for doing so, the bondsman charges a flat rate or percentage of the bail amount. Many states require that bail bondsmen be licensed, which often involves completing a training program and passing a background check.

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General Information About Bail Bondsmen

A bail bondsman is hired by an incarcerated individual or someone acting for that person, such as a friend or family member, to pay the bail for the individual. If the released individual does not return to court, the bondsman must pay the entire amount of bail to the court out of his or her own pocket. Bail agents generally possess a certain amount of assets or insurance to cover potential losses. For their services, bail agents generally charge a percentage of the total amount of the bail and may also ask for collateral or property to secure the bond. The specific percentage charged can differ depending on the state or bondsman's practices, but it's often around ten percent.

In January 2014, Payscale.com reported that most bail bonding agents earned a salary that ranged from $16,889-$96,418. The median annual salary for these professionals was $37,338.

Requirements for Bail Bondsmen

Education

Training programs usually include 16-20 hours of classes focusing on state bondsman practices. Courses can be completed at a school, such as a community college, or through a course provided by a state agency. Programs typically provide instruction on administrative and practical aspects of working as a bail bondsman. For example, courses might cover record keeping, conflicts of interest, confidentiality requirements, limitations and standards of conduct, as well as handgun care, use of force, making arrests, legal terminology and court system practices.

Licensure

Each state has different requirements for bail bondsmen, but many require that they be licensed. In some states, bondsmen attain licensure through the state's department of insurance, while in others, they're licensed by the state police. To become licensed, an individual usually must be at least 18 or 21 years of age, have completed a training program, possess a high school diploma or the equivalent, pass a background check, have no criminal record, provide evidence of good character and pass an exam. In addition, the bondsman must provide an accounting of his or her financial assets and amount of insurance in order to demonstrate an ability to pay bail.

Continuing education is commonly required to maintain licensure. Bondsmen also may be required to submit monthly or yearly financial reports to a licensing agency.

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