Career Guide: How to Get a Bail Bonding License and Establish an Agency

bail bonds office sign

Looking to start a business? Thinking about becoming a bail bondsman? If so, you still have a long way to go. 

Becoming a bail bondsman is not something you can do overnight. Not only does it require specialized education, but it also requires you to obtain a bail bonding license. 

Looking to learn more about the process? This article has you covered. 

What Does a Bail Bondsman Do? 

Simply put, a bail bondsman pays for the bails of arrested individuals so that they can be released from jail without having to pay their full bail amount. Then, once the arrested individual has been released, the bondsman becomes responsible for ensuring that he or she shows up to his or her court hearing

If the client shows up to the hearing, the court pays back the bail to the bondsman. If the client doesn't show up, the bondsman is not paid back. 

So, how does the bail bondsman make money? Generally, it's by charging the client around 10% of the total bail amount. So, a $50,000 bail amount would net the bondsman around $5,000. 

To ensure that the client shows up to his or her court hearing, the bondsman generally holds collateral. For instance, if the client doesn't show up, the bondsman might receive all of the equity in the client's house or car. In some circumstances, the bondsman might even receive payment from the client's friends or relatives. 

Bail bondsmen work in a number of different sectors. For instance, while one bail bondsman might help clients who are facing drug offenses, another might deal in immigration bonds.

How Much Do Bail Bondsman Make? 

The amount of money a bail bondsman makes is dependent upon a number of factors, including but not limited to his or her geographical area, the number of clients he or she serves, and the rates that he or she sets. Generally, the longer a bail bondsman has been working, the more money he or she will make. 

Starting salaries can be low, ranging between $20,000 and $40,000. However, once a bail bondsman has been at it for a while, he or she can make anywhere from $55,000 to $100,000 a year. 

Simply put, there is money to be made in this profession. The key is in finding clients and in getting them to show up for their court hearings. 

Prerequisites for Becoming a Bail Bondsman

Essentially anyone can become a bail bondsman. The only requirements are that you're 18 years of age and that you've secured a high school diploma or GED. If you meet these prerequisites, you can pursue the other components of becoming a bail bondsman, such as engaging in education, obtaining licensure, finding funding, and establishing a surety sponsorship. 

Educational Requirements 

The educational requirements for becoming a bail bondsman are loose, varying depending on what state you're in. For instance, while some states require individuals to take a pre-licensure training course, others don't. 

Regardless of the state in which they live, most budding bail bondsmen tend to pursue higher education. A degree in business, finance, or a related field can be vital in establishing the skills needed to be a successful bondsman. Note, however, that college education is not a requirement. 

Testing Requirements 

In order to obtain your bail bonding license, you'll need to take an exam. The specifics of this exam will vary depending upon the state in which you live. However, in the vast majority of cases, it will contain between 50 and 60 multiple-choice questions and will need to be completed within an hour. 

To ready yourself for this exam, you're advised to take a pre-exam course. As was stated above, some states might even require you to take such a course. 

Note that in order to take the exam, you will have to pay a fee. Whereas some states charge as low as $40 per exam, other states charge as much as $100 per exam. Fortunately, most states allow individuals to test as many times as needed in order for them to pass. 

Obtaining a Bail Bonding License 

Once you've passed the bail bonding exam, you can apply for your license. However, you'll have to get a number of other responsibilities straight beforehand. 

For one, you'll need to obtain a surety bond from an insurance company. To prove that you've obtained this bond, you will need to submit official documentation. Depending on your state, you might also need to submit an initial bond to the courts. 

In addition, you'll need to submit your bail bonding test scores. Not to mention, your application fee. This fee can range anywhere from $50 to $300, depending on the state in which you live. 

Join an Existing Bond Agency

Generally, it's wise for newly licensed bail bondsmen to join existing agencies. This way, they can gain experience in the field without sacrificing any of their own money. 

There are bonding agencies all over the country, so you shouldn't have a lot of trouble finding employment. Note, however, that until you start your own agency, you're not going to be receiving much in the way of a salary. 

Establishing an Agency 

Once you feel you've developed the skills necessary to start your own business, you can establish your own agency. Note, however, that if you've never run a business before, it's not going to be easy. 

Not only will you need to pick a business designation and find an office, but you'll also need to advertise and find employees. This can be costly, setting you back as much as $10,000. 

So, before you take the plunge, you're advised to hire a lawyer and a business advisor. Professionals such as these will make sure that you're doing everything properly, ensuring that you're not subjected to any unnecessary spending or legal trouble. 

Learn About Other Exciting Careers! 

Now that you know how to obtain a bail bonding license, you might be hoping to learn about some other exciting careers. If so, you're in the right place. The KTVN website has information on careers of all kinds. 

Check out some of our other career-related articles now! 


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