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If you would like to learn how to become a bounty hunter in Texas, follow these steps:
|Meet Basic Texas Requirements|
|Complete Education and Training Requirements in Texas|
|Take the exam|
|Submit your Texas Application|
|Now that you’re a Texas Bounty Hunter|
In Texas, bounty hunters, otherwise known as fugitive recovery agents, are not issued a special license or certificate. However, if you do not meet the state’s legal requirements for serving as a bounty hunter, you will be arrested for committing a state felony. Texas bounty hunters are not law enforcement officers, but rather, employees of security guard companies or private investigation companies. Presenting yourself as a law enforcement officer when performing the duties of a bounty hunter in Texas is also against the law.
As of May 2012, private investigators in Texas (many of whom likely worked as bounty hunters) earned an annual mean salary of $64,810, which is the second-highest bounty hunter salary in the nation.
Step 1. Meet Basic Qualifications for Bounty Hunters in Texas
There are three paths to becoming a bounty hunter in Texas:
- Become a licensed peace officer through the state by completing educational and licensure requirements
- Obtain a private investigator’s license, which also requires that you are sponsored by a licensed private investigation company or complete specialized state training and pass their exam
- Become a commissioned security officer after completing 30 hours of specialized professional training that is approved by the Private Security Board (PSB) of Texas
All three pathways require that you:
- Possess U.S. citizenship
- Pass a criminal background investigation, including (but not limited to):
- Not currently be addicted to alcohol or drugs
- Have no convictions or probations for Class A misdemeanors or felonies
- Have no Class B misdemeanors in the past five years (10 years for peace officer)
- Are mentally competent
- Can legally operate a motor vehicle
- Can legally possess a firearm
- Are at least 21 years old
- Have a high school diploma or GED with 12 hours of college credit (more college is desirable, as you will see in Step 2)
Step 2. Complete Education and Training Requirements for Texas Bounty Hunters
While a college education is not a requirement to become a bounty hunter in Texas (unless you have a GED instead of a high school diploma, in which case you must have 12 hours of college credit), obtaining a certificate, associate’s degree or even a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field can help you to stand out from other bounty hunter candidates. In fact, having a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related area negates the work experience requirement necessary to become a licensed private investigator. Degrees and certificates available in Texas and online that can give you an advantage when becoming a bounty hunter include:
- Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
- Bachelor of Business Administration in Legal Studies
- Associate of Science in Business Management
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
All bounty hunters in Texas must also complete a training program through the state, which will differ depending upon your chosen pathway:
- If you choose to become a certified peace officer in Texas, you must complete the peace officer licensing program from a licensed Texas law enforcement training academy, approved by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education. Training to become a bounty hunter in Texas through this route, which lasts 16 weeks, will include:
- Cultural diversity
- Crisis intervention
- Special investigations
- State and federal law
- Texas Code of Criminal Procedure
- Search and seizure
- Defensive tactics
- Civil process
- Professionalism and ethics
- If you choose to become a commissioned security officer or licensed private investigator in Texas, you must complete at least 30 hours of Level 2, 3 or Level 4 PSB-approved training. Training to become a bounty hunter in Texas through this route will include:
- Legal issues of civil liability
- Emergency procedures and first aid
- Patrol techniques
- Ethics/professional conduct
- Observation techniques
- Crowd control
- Fire prevention/suppression
- Disaster response
- Traffic direction
If you are applying for licensure as a peace officer, you must first be employed by a licensed Texas law enforcement agency. If you are striving to become a commissioned security officer or licensed private investigator, you must obtain sponsorship from a licensed Texas private investigation agency or security guard agency.
Step 3. Pass the Required Texas Exams
While there are no bounty hunter exams per se in Texas, you must pass an examination for certification as a peace officer, commissioning as a security officer, or licensure as a private investigator (depending upon the route you have taken to get this far).
The basic peace officer certification examination is administered in almost 70 exam sites across Texas (many of which are within training academies). It consists of 250 multiple-choice questions, and you are given two hours and 45 minutes to complete it.
Level 2, 3 and 4 testing sites will administer any necessary examinations to become commissioned as a security officer or licensed as a private investigator in Texas.
Step 4. Submit an Application to Become a Bounty Hunter in Texas
As there is no formal licensure for bounty hunters in Texas, there is no application to submit for bounty hunter licensure. You will be working as a peace officer, commissioned security officer or licensed private investigator when legally performing bounty hunter duties in Texas. Therefore, you must apply for either peace officer licensure, security officer commissioning, or private investigator licensure.
- If you are a peace officer, you have already gained law enforcement employment and completed basic peace officer certification. You must meet these additional requirements:
- You must be employed at least 32 hours per week with a Texas law enforcement agency
- You must submit a Peace Officer Training Certificate and Fingerprint Waiver
- You may either submit the application required for commissioned security officers below, checking the appropriate boxes, or an application for private investigators (see below)
- If you are applying to become a commissioned security officer, you may apply online or submit the Original Commission Application. You must also submit:
- $55 via check or money order payable to the Texas Department of Public Safety with a PSB-50 form attached
- $25 FBI fingerprint fee and two FBI-issued completed fingerprint cards or an IBT FAST receipt from electronic fingerprinting (follow these fingerprinting instructions and consult this list for Texas electronic fingerprinting sites)
- Certificate of completion of your Level 2,3,4 training (whichever is applicable)
- Mail the completed application, fees and above documentation to Texas Department of Public Safety-Private Security Bureau, P.O. Box 15999, Austin, TX 78761-5999.
- If you are applying to become a licensed private investigator, you may apply online or use the Private Security Original Registration Application. You must also submit:
- $33 via check or money order payable to the Texas Department of Public Safety along with a PSB-50 form
- $25 FBI classification fee and two completed fingerprint cards or an IBT FAST receipt from electronic fingerprinting (follow these fingerprinting instructions and consult this list for Texas electronic fingerprinting sites)
- Mail the above to Texas Department of Public Safety, Private Security MSC 0242, P.O. Bo 15999, Austin, TX 78761-5999
Step 5. Now that You’re a Bounty Hunter in Texas
Congratulations! You have become a bounty hunter in Texas! Make sure to maintain the license or commission that allows you to bounty hunt legally. You must complete continuing education (CE) to ensure you remain legally eligible to be a Texas bounty hunter.
If you are a peace officer, you must complete 40 hours of CE biannually and submit them at certification renewal time every two years. CE must include a state and federal law update course, cultural diversity, special investigative topics and crisis intervention training.
If you are a commissioned security officer or licensed private investigator, you may renew your license online or your employer may renew via this form. The amount of CE you must complete will vary depending upon the level you completed (2, 3, or 4). All CE must be awarded by a PSB-approved CE provider.
Professional Organizations for Texas Bounty Hunters
You might consider joining a national or state-specific professional organization for bounty hunters in Texas. These types of organizations can help you to network with other bounty hunters, find employment, and discover continuing education opportunities. Organizations applicable to bounty hunters in Texas include:
- National Association of Fugitive Recovery Agents (NAFRA)
- International Private Investigators Union (IPIU)
- National Association of Bail Enforcement Agents
- United States Professional Bail Bond Investigators Association
- Texas Association of Licensed Investigators