Becoming a bail bondsman is not as simple as filling out an application or applying for a business license. There are federal rulings, state rulings and even financial stipulations that must be met in order for an individual to even begin their career in bail bonds. This guide will serve as a step-by-step method of helping you figure out what you will need to become a bail bondsman in your state. We will discuss the federal rulings, state rulings and financial rulings that govern this particular career. We will also discuss some aspects of the business that new bail bondsmen should be aware of. Before we get started, we want to touch on some do’s and don’ts that new bail bondsmen and aspiring bail bondsmen should be aware of.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Becoming a Bail Bondsman
The first things to be aware of when you are an aspiring bail bondsman are the basic rules and warnings of the business. The following are a few of these rules and warnings that may change your mind about becoming a bail bondsman or change your mind about the method you are considering using.
Connect with Bail Bondsman
Connecting with another bondsman in the area is one of the key factors in becoming available on site. There are hundreds available on funds in each state, so don't be put off or think that you cannot run a successful bail bonds business due to competition. In fact, many bail bondsmen have an overflow of work or will turn certain types of crimes away. This could be an advantage for you as you are starting out in bail bond services. In order to connect with a bail bondsman, look for various bail bonds and in the area that are willing to speak with you. This may be touch and go and maybe very difficult at first. If you are unable to speak with a bail bondsman in the area directly to ask any questions that you may have, then look at their websites. Most reparable bail bondsman's have a website available that discusses how they handle bail bonds, any types of rules they have or guidelines they may have and it will also discuss the basics of becoming a bail bond in the state. These websites can be invaluable to you as you start down the path to becoming a licensed bail bondsman.
Connect with the Department of Insurance
The Department of Insurance for each state has the rulings and guidelines that are necessary for an individual to become a bail bondsman. Before you get started, you should make sure that you contact the Department of Insurance to get a full listing of what is required for you to become a bail bondsman in that state. Though you will see a lot of federal rulings, if your state has specific guidelines or rulings regarding becoming available on such then the Department of Insurance will have that information.
Do Not Seek an Online Bail Bonds Program
Many online bail bonds programs that offer information and assistance can help a new bail bondsman. These programs are great for basic information, how-to guides and information on starting out. However, too many individuals will latch onto these online bail bond programs as a way to become licensed. Do not seek out an online bail bonds program in order to become licensed. Use them for information only and contact the Department of Insurance in order to make sure that you are meeting the proper requirements for your state.
Federal Requirements for Bail Bondsman
As previously stated, there are several federal requirements for bail bondsmen with the possibility of different requirements or additional requirements for state bail bond funds. The first step to becoming a licensed bail bondsman in the United States is to follow the federal requirements. The following is a list of the federal requirements to become a bail bondsman in the United States.
Certification Course and Exam
Though the state requirements on education for bail bondsmen may differ, the federal ruling is clear. There must be a certification course and exam for an individual to become a licensed bail bondsman. This licensing course and exam location can be obtained from the Department of Insurance for your state. The certification course may vary depending on your state in regards to the hours of the certification course. The exam may also contain certain states regulations in addition to the federal regulations required. Overall, the certification course and exam will be required regardless of the individual’s previous education or the state regulations on that education.
Citizenship and Age Requirements
Federal ruling for an individual to become a licensed bail bondsman states that the individual must be a citizen of the United States and must meet the basic age requirement. The basic age requirement for an individual to become licensed bail bondsman is 18 years old. It should be noted that some states do require a licensed bail bondsman to be 21 or older. However, the minimum set forth by the federal government is 18.
Criminal Background Check
A criminal background check is required for an individual to become licensed as a bail bondsman in the United States. A criminal background check must be filed and must come back clear of any major crimes. For those individuals who may not understand the difference between major and minor crimes the basic line in the sand is felony versus misdemeanor. A traffic ticket will not keep you from becoming a licensed bail bondsman in the United States, however a felony charge will. As part of the criminal background check fingerprints must be obtained. In certain states character recommendations are required, however these are not required on a federal level.
Federal law requires that a potential bail bondsman must put in time with a current bail bond agency. This is considered to be on-the-job training. Most bail bondsmen who higher individuals for the basic licensing will hire them on a commission basis or internship basis. This is usually not a paid position, however some positions are. This is the most important and yet difficult part of the process of becoming a bail bondsman. This is due primarily to the fact that many bail bond services are already at their maximum with the number of employees they have and may not have the work to pass on to a new bail bondsman. This is why it is vitally important to try to connect with a bail bondsman in your local area prior to moving forward.
Fees and Insurance
There are certain fees that individuals should be aware of in regards to becoming a bail bondsman. Insurance is one of these fees. Though there is a fine federal line, of what type of insurance coverage a bondsman should have, most states clear up this line considerably. A person who is becoming a bail bondsman would need to be able to become insured for their bail bonds business. In order to ensure that you are properly insured for your state you would need to contact your local Department of Insurance.
Fees that are associated with becoming a bail bondsman are also required. These fees to have the federal fees that are connected to exams and certifications while state fees will come into play for different aspects of the business. On a federal level, however the fees are generally small and are related to the cost of the course in the exam as well as the license itself.
The Major Steps in Becoming a Bail Bondsman
Now that you have contacted a local bail bondsman, contacted the Department of Insurance and started on the process to becoming a licensed bail bondsman in your state you will now need to know the major steps becoming a bail bondsman. Though there are state regulations that change from state to state, the basic concepts and major step to becoming a bail bondsman will remain the same. The following are the major steps in becoming a bell bondsman that you can be assured will be required for your state regardless of other state regulations.
Fingerprinting and Background Check
After you have found a local bail bondsman to intern with and have found a certification course and set the exam date, your next step will be your background check. The fingerprint and background check is roughly the same for every state. You will contact the local sheriff’s office and find out their fee for the background check and you may need to set up an appointment to go in. We need only for your background check you will fill out the proper paperwork for a background check and you will submit to fingerprinting. Keep in mind, that many background check offices will have paperwork that will be sent directly to the certification station for your licensing. This may be the Department of Insurance, it may be a division of the Department of Insurance that specifically handles licensing a bail bondsman or it may be a bail bond licensing service in that state. You will need to ensure that your background check is being received and handled by the proper authorities and by the proper offices.
When you go in for your fingerprinting and background check, you will need to have certain pieces of information. You will need to have your addresses for the past 10 years, your updated driver’s license, Social Security number and possibly card, birth certificate or information from the birth certificate as to where you were born and any employers that you worked for in the past decade. All of this information will be required in order for the background check to go through. If you are concerned about the information that may be asked on the background check or if you are concerned with having the right information when you go in, contact the local sheriff’s office and find out if there is any particular information that you need or contacted the certification or licensing office that is requiring the background check to find out if there is any specific information that they need.
The Coursework and Certification
You may have found a course to enroll with in regards to the bail bond licensing. However, many individuals will find the course, register for the course and take the course without thinking ahead to the certification test itself. As part of the steps to becoming a bail bondsman, you will need to think ahead and go ahead and register for the certification test. If you feel that, you need extra time to study than register for the test with the furthest dates from the time you are registering.
If you feel that, you are ready for the test then register for the certification test directly following the last class that you have. This is entirely up to you and how you wish to handle the testing, however keep in mind that some states will only allow you to take the certification test once every year or once every six months. If you fail the test you may be looking at having to wait six months to year or longer to retake the certification test. Make sure that you check with the certification course and the state laws in your area regarding certification tests, failures and retaking of the test.
Many individuals who are trying to become licensed under state as a bail bondsman will have no problem with the coursework or certification. It will also have no problem with finding an internship or moving through the process. However, the big hang-up for many individuals is the financial side of the business. In order to ensure you are financially stable and ready to become a licensed bail bondsman you will need to contact the Department of Insurance. You will need to make sure that you meet the financial credibility requirements, the backing and any other financial requirements that may be decided by the state. This is the huge holdup for many individuals. Before you get too far into the process, it may be a good idea to go ahead and check the finances.
Bad credit is not necessarily an indicator that you are not financially ready to become a licensed bail bondsman. However, it can be a hurdle that you will need to surpass prior to getting your license. Check with your credit reports, the Department of Insurance and a financial advisor if necessary in order to determine how to become ready to become a licensed bail bondsman in your state and meet the financial requirements set aside by the Department of Insurance.
Submit for Licensing
Submitting the proper paperwork for your state's bail bonds license is one of the last steps that you will need to take in the process. You will need to make sure that you are submitting all the proper paperwork and a complete paperwork packet at the time of submission. Remember, that there are state laws that may govern how the licensing process is handled. There may also be state regulations regarding what type of paperwork is needed, how that paperwork should be turned in and various other guidelines. You will want to make sure that you are following every guideline to the letter and that you are turning in all paperwork required. This is a valid and important part of the process that should not be neglected. Remember, that a license can take up to 60 or 90 days in order to be processed. Some states may take longer. You will need to make sure that you plan for this downtime and that you are ready to wait for any type of issue that may come up. The Department of Insurance will be able to help you with what paperwork is required for the state and specific forms are required for the state. Many states will supply you with a licensing bail bondsman package that has all of the paperwork you need, instructions and a step-by-step guide on how to go about obtaining a bail bonds license in that area.
Considerations of Becoming a Bail Bondsman
As with any other profession there are advantages, disadvantages and considerations that should be taken into account. This is especially true when considering becoming a licensed bail bondsman.
As a licensed bail bondsman, there are several financial aspects to business the bail bondsman becomes responsible for. These can vary from the full bail amount becoming due to payments on loans and to other parts of the finances regarding the business. If you are planning on becoming a licensed bail bondsman you need to be aware of all of the financial advantages and disadvantages of the business. This is why working with a bail bondsman is required by most states. Many states feel that if you work with a bail bondsman you will see firsthand what the financial downfalls and advantages of the business are and will be able to determine if in fact the bail bonds business is right for you on a financial consideration level.
Being a bail bondsman is not a 9-to-5 job. In fact, it's not even a 12-hour day job. Many bail bond services run a 24-hour service window. This means that you will either need to be able to obtain, take and respond to any calls that come through at any time during the day or you will need to hire someone to handle calls after hours. Even if a call comes in afterhours this may mean that the individual handling the call is not licensed to do anything about the call. For example, if you receive a phone call at midnight from an individual needing a bail bond you may have a secretary who is able to take the call and the basic information.
However, that secretary will call you at midnight with all of the information, which will require you to wake up, get dressed and then go to the bail bonds office. Your job is never ending, it has no time clock and you will be expected to run your business regardless of holidays or weekends. This is a huge consideration for individuals with families who want to be with their family during major occurrences and events. It is something to take into consideration prior to becoming a bail bondsman.
Every bail bondsman, regardless of their state, is required by federal law is take a yearly recertification. This yearly recertification is generally a refresher course that's held over a few hours or weekend to discuss any types of changes in the law or any changes in guidelines that state. A certification test will be given at the end of the certification course and the test must be passed. These recertification tests are required, must be passed and must be registered for every year. There is no exception to this law, as it is a federal ruling.
Having a bail bond service and being a licensed bail bondsman does not start and end with your certification. If you are going to run a proper bail bonds business you will need to consider certain aspects of that business such as staffing. You will need someone to operate the phones during normal business hours, weekends, after hours and during holidays. You will also need to have someone who can handle the basic paperwork of the bail bonds process. You will need to find skip tracers, bounty hunters and you will need to make sure that you have the time to appear in court and still keep the office manned. All of these are considerations that should be taken into account. In other words, you cannot run a bail bonds business alone. You will need to have the proper staffing, income to cover the staffing expenses and in some areas you may be required to have insurance for your staff. This insurance can be liability insurance and in most states must be medical insurance. If these individuals are, full-time employees you will need to provide Workmen's Compensation, medical insurance and other forms of compensation for the staff. There will also be holidays, sick paydays and you will need to consider staffing for those individuals who may not show up to work, may quit at the drop of a hat or who may not be able to handle the job itself on their own. All of these considerations must be taken into account along with the yearly certification, finances, long hours and what it means to be a bail bondsman.
Most of what it means to be a bail bondsman including the considerations of becoming a bail bondsman can be learned on the job with another bail bond service. This on-the-job training will give you a clear indication of what is expected of you, what you need to do in order to obtain your licensing and what you need to expect once you have attained licensing. Regardless of your state regulations, the basics may come down to the long hours, the staffing or the expense of having a bail bonds business.