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The training needed to become a bail bondsman in the United States varies from state to state, but much of the required education is similar in areas that have commercial bail licenses. Candidates typically complete a minimum of 12 hours of classroom or online study to learn the responsibilities of a bail agent, the state laws and regulations related to the profession, and safety training on the use of guns, tasers and pepper spray. Some states require from one to two weeks of bail bondsman training followed by a yearlong internship in a bail bond office. A state’s Department of Insurance or local law enforcement offices are good resources to use in finding out the coursework requirements and schools that offer the necessary classes.
In most states, bail bondsman training and licensing is provided through the Department of Insurance. Many states require agents to provide proof that they have up-to-date surety insurance to cover forfeited bonds. In these states, additional training may be needed to obtain a fire and casualty or property and casualty license. Bail bondsman candidates must also be at least 18 years old and have a valid state driver’s license. After the required coursework is completed, students must pass a written examination, a criminal background check and be fingerprinted.
A bail bondsman license was required as of 2010 in Indiana, Nevada, Mississippi, South Dakota, Connecticut, Arizona, Utah, Louisiana, California and West Virginia. In Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina, specific statutes govern how bail bondsmen operate. Some states have different bail laws for different counties, while other states accept only professional bail agents, or those who use their personal money to post bond so an accused to be released from jail. Commercial bail was outlawed, as of 2010, in Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon and Wisconsin.
Bail bondsman training may also include preparing a student to enter into safe contractual agreements with a client before posting bond for his release from jail. The bondsman’s responsibility is to make sure a client goes to court, so some states may require training to obtain the authority to arrest a fugitive. Some states also require a notary public license before granting arrest authority. Even in states where a bail bondsman license is sufficient, a notary license may be beneficial for an agent to take property instead of cash as collateral for bail.
Many states also require annual bail bondsman training, refresher courses and yearly examinations that must be passed. Such classes often include safety courses and refresher classes on new bail bond rules. Many colleges offer training to would-be bail bondsmen and the required education on state laws and local legal issues. Despite the training available, bail bondsman insurance license can be sufficient to begin practicing in many states.