To join the bail bondsman profession in California, candidates must complete the following steps:
|Determine Eligibility in California
|Fulfill Education and Training Requirements in California
|Apply for a California State License
|Take and Pass the California State Licensing Exam
|Find Employment or Begin a Business in California
The bail bondsman profession typically appeals to people who possess confidence, excellent negotiating skills and an intellectual proclivity for finance. This is especially true in the competitive market of the most populous state in the country. California bail bondsman are licensed and regulated strictly by the California Department of Insurance (DOI).
In California, the Department of Insurance is involved in every bail agreement a bondsman makes. Each bail agreement must be verified and certified by the DOI in order to be authorized. The insurance companies that back these agreements must also verify and authorize such agreements.
California has one of the largest prison populations in the country, however, it is decreasing as a result of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling which mandated that the prison population must be reduced. This has had secondary effects on the bail industry. Because fewer prisoners are being housed in overcrowded state prisons, more are being housed in county jails. This has compelled many courts to allow more pre-trial releases including those in which bail is a requirement. The bail bondsman has taken on a larger role in ensuring public safety in California by helping secure defendants for court appearances.
Step 1: Determine Eligibility in California
In order to become licensed as a California bail bondsman, candidates must possess the following qualifications:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Furnish proof of California residency for at least two years
- Pass submit fingerprints for a criminal background check
- Cannot have any felony or misdemeanor convictions
- Must have completed the pre-licensing course
- Must pass the Commissioner exam for licensing
- Must have the sponsorship of an insurance company
Step 2: Fulfill Educational and Training Requirements in California
The bail bondsman profession is essentially a financial management occupation, so many of the professionals serving in this career have strong academic backgrounds in finance or business. The most common degrees for this profession are associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in management, economics, finance, or business administration.
To prepare for the state licensing exam as well fulfill a licensing requirement, all bail bondsmen candidates must complete a 20 hour pre-licensing course. This course includes instruction in
- Bail laws and regulations
- Rights of the accused
Candidates also need to have the financial backing of an insurance company in order to be licensed. Insurance companies underwrite the bail bonds that are issued and usually require that a partner bail bondsman possess the competency, integrity and knowledge to function in this critical role. Many candidates establish this type of relationship with insurance companies by working in internships or as paid employees.
Step 3: Apply for a California State License
To obtain a license as a bail agent in California, you must complete these steps:
- Submit a Bail Application for Insurance License
- Provide a $468 fee in check or credit card payable to the California Department of Insurance
- Provide proof of completion of the pre-licensing course
- Provide a form attesting to sponsorship by an insurance company
The California bail agent licensure period is two years and must be renewed prior to expiration. In order to qualify for license renewal, all bail bondsmen must complete six hours of continuing education prior to the expiration of the current license.
Step 4: Pass the California Licensing Exam
Once the license application has been filed, candidates will be scheduled for the Commissioner’s exam. You must pay the $46 exam fee when you are scheduled for the exam. This is a 50 multiple choice question exam that must be completed within two hours. A 70 percent is required to pass, but you may take the test as many times as necessary to pass. Following the exam, you will be fingerprinted for a criminal background check.
Step 5: Find Employment of Establish a Bail Company in California
While most newly licensed bail agents in California already have a position in a bail company, many choose to venture out on their own. Some of California’s largest bail companies which can provide employment opportunities or valuable advice include
- Bail Hotline
- American Surety Company
- Aladdin Bail Bonds
To become a member of a professional bail agent organization, contact the following groups