Not many people consider becoming a notary public when they’re looking for work from home jobs, but it’s actually a very in-demand service that can easily be done as a side-hustle.
Read on to learn how to become a notary and get all of the costs involved with that process.
It takes a couple of weeks to become a notary, depending on the process of the state you live in.
But after that, you’re free to offer your services to any business that needs official documents signed – and there are plenty as this service is needed across all sectors, from banking and real estate to medical services and tech companies.
Here’s what notaries public (yes, that’s the plural term) do:
A notary acts as an impartial witness to the signing of any legal documents.
They have to make sure that the documents are indeed legal, verify that those signing the documents are who they say they are (usually through ID), and make sure that they know what they’re signing and aren’t doing so under duress.
Notary publics have the freedom to choose who they work with and how – either opting to work with signing services or getting direct business on their own.
Some notaries simply get the certification to expand their resume skills as many companies, especially banks, require this type of service often.
How Much Do Notaries Earn?
This depends somewhat on the state you’re practicing in. The fees you’re allowed to charge differ between states, but this usually doesn’t include travel fees.
So most notaries can charge whatever they want for travel expenses – within reason of course.
Most notaries charge between $2 – $15 per signature, depending on the state. How much you earn depends on the need for notaries in your area and subsequently how many documents/signatures you can notarize every hour or day.
When documents are signed, there’s often a need for more than one signature and from more than one person, meaning a notary can make upwards of $50 an hour depending on the state they’re in.
Sometimes, businesses even have multiple documents that need to be signed, driving up the price even further.
From what I could gather, however, most notaries public make more money through their additional traveling fees.
There are plenty of industries that require notaries public, but some also seem to be more lucrative than others. Those that opt to specialize even further, into becoming a Notary Signing Agent, seem to be earning the most out of the group.
This is because signing agents in the mortgage industry usually negotiate premium rates with the title companies or signing services that hire them and they make a considerable amount of income from this one part of the industry alone.
Step by Step: How to Become a Notary
1. Apply to become a notary within your state
Step 1: In the US, you’ll need to apply to become a notary with your local state. This can be done via their website. The state will do a background check on you to make sure you meet their eligibility requirements. Those applying to become a Notary Signing Agent will also have to go through a separate background screening.
Notary eligibility requirements: Requirements may vary by state, but generally, you’ll have to be older than 18, a legal resident of the state (though some states allow for residents in neighboring to also gain notary status there), and have no criminal record.
2. Follow the training and take the exam
Step 2: After applying, you may need to take part in a training course (in most cases this can be done online, and takes anywhere from 3 – 6 hours), and take an exam. The exam isn’t the same everywhere, but some states allow for an open-book exam.
You can apply to become a Notary Signing Agent in addition to your regular Notary Public responsibilities. This generally requires an extra certification and a training course to handle the extra complicated documents. But again, the requirements vary between states and so you’ll have to check up on that for your specific state.
3. Lay down your oath
Step 3: If you’ve passed the training and/or exam, then you can go lay down your oath of office at the local county clerk’s office to get your commission certificate, which you will have to file along with your bond at your state’s notary regulating office.
4. Gather the necessary supplies
Then, buy any necessary supplies before you can start your new business.
I break down all the supplies needed and the costs associated below.
5. Start networking to gain clients
As with any other business, you’ll have to network a bit to get clients.
Many people opt for signing up with a signing service who get the loan signing appointments for them.
But you can also print out business cards or contact businesses/realtors to offer your service as a notary.
The Cost of Becoming a Notary
There are a few costs associated with getting started as a notary, but, these fees put together still come down to a relatively low start-up cost.
Here’s what you’re likely to spend:
First off, there’s the application fee when you submit an application, which is different from one state to another but ranges between $10 – $60.
Then you may have to either take a training course or write an exam, or both, depending on your state requirements. The costs for the training course vary but you’re looking at something around $80, and you can expect the cost for the exam to be around $40.
You will have to supply a passport photo (and live scan fingerprints in the state of California) before you’re certified.
Most states require you to pay for the oath of office, which is in the range of $40.
You will also need a notary bond, as all states require notaries to have one. This is relatively cheap though, at around $50 for a four-year bond, after which you’ll have to renew it.
Finally, there are the supplies. This includes your notary seal stamp. You can shop around a bit for the best price here.
As a notary, you will need a computer, cellphone, car or other transportation, and a printer.
The latter is very important because you might have to print out various certificates or loan packages when you prepare for a meeting with clients. At times, there can be over 100 pages of both legal-size and letter-size pages so you’re going to be relying heavily on your printer.
In total, you can look at spending around $300 – $500 for the whole process of becoming a certified Notary Public, not including a printer, computer, or transportation.
There are additional costs if you wish to apply to become a Notary Signing Agent as well.
Although, Notary Signing Agents apparently don’t make use of a printer as much.
Unlike most of the other work from home jobs I’ve talked about, becoming a notary requires a bit of capital to get started and a lot of paperwork to get through before you can start working.
However, it can be a very fulfilling part-time or full-time career so don’t feel disheartened at these costs.
Supplies Needed to Become a Notary
The National Notary Association recommends the following supplies for anyone starting out:
- Official notary seal stamp
- A 5 year hotline subscription to the NNA (not necessary, but it’s a perk you get if you become an NNA member)
- Basic journal with a notary privacy guard cling (Required in some states)
On that last point, from what I could find, most notaries agree that it’s good practice to keep a journal even if the state doesn’t specifically require it.
It’s just safer for you to keep records of your notary public obligations to avoid any possible confusion or future questions about the legitimacy of your business activities.
Some say it’s also a good idea to get Errors and Omissions Insurance, just in case.
This sounds like a good idea since a notary bond (which is required by law) does not cover the notary but rather the interests of the public.
This type of insurance covers you if you ever make a mistake during the signing process that could lead to a loss for the client and any resulting litigation that may arise as a result of that.
The Bottom Line
Being a notary public can be a fulfilling job as you get to meet interesting people from all over and exercise your duty as a ministerial official.
It’s a flexible option and a great choice for both those who want to make side-cash and anyone who’s looking for a solid full-time job.
If the startup costs of becoming a notary feel a little steep to you, then you could always opt for these 12 work from home jobs that require no financial investment on your part.