Bail Bondsman Job Description, Career as a Bail Bondsman, Salary, Employment
Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job
Education and Training:— Professional certificate
Salary: Median— $20,000 annually
Employment Outlook:— Fair
A bail bondsman, also known as a bail bond agent or a bail bondsperson, is essentially an organization or a person who arranges the bail for a criminal defendant in court. The bail is arranged by pledging either cash or assets, and acting as a surety for the criminal suspect. This profession is almost exclusive to the United States since most other countries consider bounty hunting to be illegal.
Bail bond agents share a security agreement with court officials. This arrangement allows them to put up an irrevocable “blanket” bond which will pay the court the entire bond money in case the agent’s client fails to appear in court. Such agents generally have a deal with a bank, insurance company, or some other credit provider that allows them to draw on credit at any time of the day or night.
There are two kinds of bail bond agents – those working in a professional bonding company, and others who work for a surety company. Professional bail bond agents need a license for each county they work in, while the surety companies allow their agents to work across all counties and states.
Education and Training Requirements
To take up the profession of a bail bondsman, one must first get in touch with the respective state’s Department of Insurance and get a list of schools that offer courses in the field. It is mandatory for a bail bondsman to obtain a licensing certificate in the state where he/ she wants to practice. Requirements for licensing vary from one state to the other. To get a bail bondsman license, the candidate needs to be at least 18 years of age, and submit documents related to academic qualifications, proof of residency and personal identity, fingerprint filing, and property details. On having met the criteria, the insurance department appoints candidates as recognized bail bond agents.
In certain states, applicants are required to pass a written examination prior to obtaining licensure. This is because the job of a bail bondsman requires extensive knowledge of various statutes and legal technicalities as well as a thorough understanding of legal terms and rules.
Once an individual becomes a licensed bail bond agent, he/ she can start posting bonds. However, surety licenses come with their limits and these should be kept in mind before putting up bonds for criminal defendants.
In some states like California, a bail bondsman is required to renew the license annually. For this, one needs to attend at least 6 hours of classes in a continuing education program.
Getting the Job
A licensed bail bondsman can apply for the position of an agent in an insurance company. However, the profession may expose the candidate to considerable danger, so getting properly insured against those is mandatory. This can be taken care of by discussing the necessary process with a qualified attorney. Bail bond agents should place their built-up fund in a secure FDIC account. This money is used by the insurance company to ensure that the agent does not commit foul play. In cases of satisfactory work performance, the money can also be used to provide retirement benefits to the bondsman.
Employment opportunities for bail bond agents are often advertised in job portals on the Internet and in the newspapers. It also helps to get in touch with professional associations that look after the interests of such professionals.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
People in this profession usually start out as general agents for insurance companies. With experience, one can find employment with reputed bail bonding agencies. Bail bond agents can also start their own agency after gaining expertise in the field. In such cases, it helps if one has contacts with criminal defense judges, attorneys, and others agents in the profession.
Bail bonding is a viable option for those looking out for a change in their careers. Moreover, since there is no shortage of people requiring the services of a bail bondsman, the employment outlook for bail bond agents is expected to be favorable in the coming years.
The profession of bail bond agents can be quite risky if proper verifications are not done in time. Since the job involves working closely with criminal suspects, it is extremely crucial that proper background checks be conducted prior to posting bail for a defendant. The bail bondsman needs to stick to the rules and complete paperwork with regard to the client’s personal property and criminal records. This paperwork must be absolutely accurate since it needs to be submitted to the court. The bail bond agents must also work very fast in order to get their clients out of jail. Taking into consideration these conditions, the work of bail bond agents can often become both tedious and dangerous.
However, the role of a bail bondsman is considered important in the field of criminal justice. The advantages of pursuing this profession include flexible work hours, and lucrative earning options.
Where to Go for More Information
Professional Bail Agents of the United States
1301 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Suite 925
Washington, DC 20004
National Association of Bail Enforcement Agents
P.O. Box 129
Falls Church, VA 22040-0129
California Department of Insurance
300 South Spring Street, South Tower
Los Angeles, CA 90013
United States Professional Bail Bond Investigators’ Association
P.O. Box 7819, San Antonio, TX 78207
Salary, Earnings and Benefits
The salary of a bail bondsman depends largely on the place of employment, industry, and experience. The median salary for professionals in this field is around $20,000 per year. However, those who are not salaried professionals charge a commission or a fee for their services. In most states, this is usually around 10% of the bond. For instance, if the bond is for $1,000, the bail bondsman will charge $100 for it.
Since bail bond agents work on a commission basis and are rarely salaried employees, they usually do not enjoy any benefits that come with a regular job. However, those working with organizations enjoy perks like paid leaves, vacations, flexible work hours, and life insurance coverage.
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