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Bounty Hunter

Famed bounty hunter Duane "The Dog" Chapman.
Famed bounty hunter Duane "The Dog" Chapman.
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

If you've seen Duane "The Dog" Chapman and his crew on the A&E television show "Dog the Bounty Hunter," you probably already know something about bounty hunters -- although the job isn't always as dramatic as it's portrayed on TV.

Here's how bounty hunting works: Let's say a man has been arrested for assaulting his wife. His bail is set at $25,000. If the guy can't afford bail, he'll see a bail bondsman, who will front him the $25,000 as a sort of loan, in exchange for a percentage (usually 10 percent) of the total bail.

If this accused husband doesn't show up for his scheduled court appearance, the bail bondsman is left footing the bill. Often, the bondsman will hire a bounty hunter (also called a bail enforcement agent) to track down the "skip." The bounty hunter will search through databases and talk to friends and family to track down the fugitive's whereabouts.

In return for their services, bounty hunters earn anywhere from 10 percent to 20 percent of the total bail bond. Not only can they earn upwards of $80,000 a year, but they also get to experience the thrill of the chase. There's also a downside to bounty hunting -- namely, the danger involved in tracking down bad guys.