The process for becoming a bounty hunter varies enormously between states, but most require some combination of education, licensing and ongoing certification. In four states: Oregon, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Illinois, bounty hunting is illegal.
The laws of many states require that bounty hunters carry some kind of license, though 22 states do not. This requirement is usually, though not always, enforced by the state department of insurance. To meet some of the most stringent requirements, the prospective bounty hunter must undertake accredited training to gain familiarity with the relevant laws and methods of safe and effective skip tracing and fugitive capture. Certification is usually by examination and must be renewed periodically. Nearly all states that allow bounty hunting impose restrictions on who may work in the field. Convicted felons and people with misdemeanor records for crimes involving "moral turpitude" are generally not allowed to obtain a license.
Once licensed, most bounty hunters enter into a contract or employment relationship with a bail bonds company. It is this company that passes information to the bounty hunter that helps locate the fugitive, and it is the bond company that authorizes the arrest. In some states, the law requires bounty hunters to register with local law enforcement prior to undertaking an apprehension.