With almost 15,000 bail bondsmen currently working in the United States and almost 1,881 bail companies in operation, there are a vast number of opportunities for professionals to enter the bail industry. The annual revenue for the entire industry is almost $700 million according to IBIS World, but not all professionals who attempt to find success in this competitive field achieve it. One of the fundamental prerequisites for success as a bail bondsman is to receive adequate education and training so that the many challenges of this financial career can be appropriately met and overcome.
There are principally two types of training available to bail bondsmen: academic and professional. Academic preparation usually involves attending college and obtaining a degree in a financial field. Professional training includes attending classes sponsored by bail bond or insurance companies which serve as an introduction to the bail profession.
Bail Bonds Schools by State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Academic Preparation for a Career in the Bail Bonds Industry
Many of the most successful bail bondsmen in the industry obtain some form of post-secondary education. The primary reason for this is that the bail bonds occupation is primarily a financial services profession with bondsmen issuing surety to worthwhile candidates. To discern which criminal defendants are viable bond clients requires knowledge of financial practices and laws as well as contract law.
The most common degrees that bail bondsmen may hold are associate’s or bachelor’s degrees, although a small percentage may hold advanced degrees like a Master of Business Administration or a doctorate. While a degree may be acquired in any field, the most helpful are those which relate strongly to the bail bonds industry including:
- Criminal justice
- Business administration
It can also be beneficial to take classes that can be helpful during the course of business operations like Spanish, public administration or psychology.
For bail bondsmen who wish to establish their own company, it is often a wise option to acquire an advanced degree in business management – like an MBA. This type of degree provides the skills and knowledge often required to found and operate a complex financial services company like a bail bonds business.
Professional Training for Bail Bondsmen
The majority of states require that bail bondsmen pass a state licensing exam to obtain licensure. Many of these states also require that license applicants complete a pre-licensing course. Even if it is not required by the state, a pre-licensing course may be extremely beneficial for passing the licensing exam.
Most of these courses are a few days or weeks in length, although some states like Florida require up to 120 hours of pre-licensing training. The majority of states do not offer these courses through their licensing departments but through outside partners. Courses can usually be found at local colleges, private schools sponsored by insurance or bail companies, or online schools. Prior to enrolling in these programs, it is important to research the exact requirements for that state. Some states require license candidates complete the pre-licensing course with a particular grade or that a certificate of completion was obtained.
In most states the pre-licensing course includes instruction on topics like:
- State bail bondsman licensing process
- Key terms and definitions
- History of bail in the state
- State laws and regulations regarding bail
- Criminal and contract law
- Principles and practices for bail bondsmen
Following the completion of these courses, most students immediately apply to take the state licensing exam.
In some states, surety companies underwrite bail companies, which means that an insurance company financially secures or backs the issued bail bonds. This relationship between bail bondsmen and insurance companies is something that is critical to the bail industry; so many states require that a surety company sponsors a bail bondsman license applicant. The easiest way to obtain this sponsorship is to be an intern, apprentice or paid employee at a bail or surety company. A term of service with these organizations can provide valuable experience about the profession and knowledge about the detailed workings of the bail industry.
Most states require that bail bondsmen complete a certain number of credit hours during their licensure period in order to qualify for license renewal. The most common requirement is 24 credit hours to be completed over a two year licensure period, with at least three of these credit hours devoted to ethics. These courses must be taken at a state approved bail continuing education provider and documentation of course completion must usually be provided along with the license renewal application.