How do I start a bail bonds business? Become a Bail Bondsman

Reviewed by our Subject Matter Experts, Updated on Sept. 23, 2019

Starting a bail bondsman company is an attractive investment considering the increasing demand for bail bonds (5% annual growth), as well as the low rate of risk you may take when it comes to defaulting or defendants not showing up on their court date. A bail bondsman in New York who handled his business well saw as little as 1% of his defendants not show up to court.

We have a great guide that talks about bail bonds advertising and marketing ideas and how you can get a head-start with immediate bail leads by working with us directly – click here! We highly recommend partnering with us after starting your bail bond business if you want to get a strong start with call volume and business!

How do bail bondsman make money?

A bail bonds business earns roughly 10% on every transaction which is non-refundable to the borrower. This is the primary way a bail bondsman makes money. If the defendant does not show to court, the bail bondsman has to pay the bond to the court. In order to make this a viable business, bondsmen proactively set agreements for collateral in case the defendant does not show for court. The collateral often comes in the form of cars, cash, or property.

As a bail bonds business, you need to protect yourself and have strong agreements in place that will provide security in case the defendant does not show. You will not make any money as a bail bondsman if you don’t protect yourself from these risks.

Some bail bondsmen have their defendants visit them on a weekly basis to sign in and ensure things are still on track. If a person is missing prior to the court date, the bondsman can then proactively seek out help from friends, family, and whoever signed for the collateral to ensure there are no surprises on the court date. To be a successful, high-income bail bondsman, you will need to use the right amount of oversight for each person you bailout. Some individuals will need more frequent check-ins and a stable circle of friends and family. You will also want to bring a few bail recovery agents, or bounty hunters, into your network to ensure you have resources if someone jumps bail.

Bail Bondsman Education and License Requirements

Laws and regulations vary by state and it’s important to review your state’s terms. Typically, the bail bonds business needs to have $50,000 of assets to write bonds or enough value in the property to ensure they can payout on the bonds in case the defendant doesn’t show. The great thing is that bonds don’t need to be paid to the court upon the defendant’s release from jail, instead the sum is typically paid out only if the defendant does not show to court.

Certain states may have requirements around apprenticeship working for an existing bail bonds business, and/or Continuing Education Credits prior to obtaining a license. The education typically consists of 8-20 hours of state-accredited bail bondsman instruction, upon which you can then apply for the license.

To get the full, step-by-step instructions, including how to start and advertise your bail bonds business, you need to read out detailed guide; it’s a must-read for anyone wanting to start a bail bonds business – click here.

Costs for Bail Bondsmen

Bail bondsmen are licensed by the state in which they conduct business, and each state has its own pre-licensing requirements and regulatory bodies. On top of the pre-licensing requirements that are set by each state, there are also licensing fees. The initial licensing including all courses and miscellaneous application fees can be quite costly, but it varies from state to state. In some states the initial license may cost several hundred dollars, however, the pre-licensing education, application fees, exam fees, and miscellaneous costs can easily add up to over $1,000.

Remember these costs are just to get licensed and don’t include the overhead a bondsman incurs when printing business cards, advertising, leasing office space, and hiring employees.

Some states, such as Virginia, require bail bondsmen to maintain an insurance license as well as a bail bonds license. The insurance license comes with its own associated costs as well.

After becoming licensed, bondsmen are required to take “continuing education” courses yearly or every other year, just like many other licensed professions. In addition, many states require bondsmen to renew their license at the same interval, and are charged a fee for doing so.

It can be extremely stressful when you or your loved one ends up in jail, and not knowing how bail bonds work can add on an extra element of frustration. We have created a simple guide to help you understand exactly how bail works, both at the national level and within your state.
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To familiarize yourself with bail bonds and related information, please browse through the frequently asked questions below.

Can I get my bail money back?

How much does bail cost for different crimes?

When you post bail, what happens to the money?

Can I get my 10% fee back?

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Our guide on bail bonds amounts is comprehensive, showing bail amounts you may see for various charges, both felonies and misdemeanors. How much bail is set to can vary based on jurisdiction, criminal history, and input from the judge. Bail Bonds Network's research focuses on all these factors to help you prepare.
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Do you have a loved one who needs to be bailed out of jail but is located in another state? Learn how to bail someone out from another state. Our expertly written guide will help you understand how you can use a bail bondsman to work across state lines via transfer bonds and other means to ensure your loved one is bailed out quickly even if they were arrested in a different state from where you live.
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Before you co-sign on a bail bond, you should make yourself aware of what it means to be a cosigner, as well as the liabilities, risk, and requirements that come with co-signing. Our bail experts have compiled everything you need to know, dealing with important items like who can cosign, what application requirements are necessary, how bail forfeiture can impact you, how long you are tied to the bail bond, and when your collateral will finally be freed.
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A bounty hunter is hired by a bail bondsman to locate and arrest a person who does not show to court as agreed in their bail bond agreement. Bounty hunters are sometimes referred to as bail recovery agents.

What does a bounty hunter do?

Is a bail bondsman the same as a bounty hunter?

When does a bounty hunter come after me?

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We are the trusted source for bail bonds, as well as financial help and guidance when you cannot afford to pay for the bail bond fee. Every day, we are contacted by great people who simply want to get their loved one out of jail. Read our guide to learn more about all your options, including bail emergency loans, and bail charities who often bail out low income individuals for free.
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Our Team of Subject Matter Experts

We dedicate ourselves to providing information that is accurate and expertly written in order to assist individuals through a difficult time. Our staff at Bail Bonds Network is highly educated, having obtained prestigious degrees in law, business, accounting, and finance. Our editorial staff includes professional lawyers, bail bondsmen, and lending experts who understand local jurisdictions and intricacies of legal matters dealing with bail bonds.

Adi Dzebic
MBA, Research & Marketing
Owner of Bail Bonds Network, specializing in quality content research, analyzing bail bondsmen that are featured on our website, and general content contributions that are verified by our expert panel.
Matt C. Pinsker
Criminal Defense Attorney

An award-winning criminal defense attorney. He previously served as a state and federal prosecutor and magistrate, making his content contributions extremely relevant on legal and bail related topics.

Fred Shanks
Licensed Bail Bondsman
Fred Shanks is a licensed bail bondsman and the owner of Apex Bail Bonds. Fred is our bail expert who reviews and contributes to our content to ensure we have accurate and complete bail information.
Zlatan Dzebic
Finance / Lending Specialist
Zlatan's experience in credit and lending is vital since many important factors, such as credit history, over-leveraging, and predatory loan options can have a long term impacts when looking for financial assistance.