Notaries are officials who have been authorized to administer oaths and affirmations, witness and authenticate certain documents, take depositions, and perform a variety of other official acts. They are a popular option for a variety of situations, ranging from creating legal documents to conducting business transactions.
Notaries play a vital role in the world of business and law. They are trusted with sensitive information and can be called upon to verify identity or sign official documents.
Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a notary public and what it takes to become one yourself.
Notary Public Job Duties
Notary publics are responsible for the following duties:
- Serving as impartial witness to the signing of important legal documents, witnessing signatures on affidavits, real estate transactions, and other legal proceedings
- Explaining the procedure for notarization to clients, especially when it concerns electronic or telephone procedures
- Administering oaths for affidavits or depositions
- Inspecting signatures carefully for signs of fraud or forgery
- Issuing certified copies of documents or deeds in accordance with state laws or regulations
- Enforcing state laws concerning the acceptance of notarized documents for recording purposes
- Coordinating with other legal professions such as lawyers, judges, police officers, and court clerks
- Completing continuing education courses and maintaining certification as mandated by the state
Notary Public Salary & Outlook
The median salary for notary publics is $44,732. The top earners make over $99,000. Those earning higher wages tend to work in real estate firms and banks.
Job opportunities for notary publics are expected to grow much faster than the national average over the next decade. The growing need for legal services will create a larger demand for notary publics to handle transactions and verify signatures. This increased demand will require more people with this certification.
Notary Public Job Requirements
Notary publics are required to have the following:
Education: Requirements for this job vary according to state law, but most states require applicants to have a high school diploma or equivalent. However, employers may seek additional education in areas like business administration, real estate or law. Some employers may also require an associate’s degree in a related field.
Training: Notary publics are required to complete a training program that will allow them to become commissioned by their state. These programs vary in length and can take between a couple of weeks and a few months to complete. Students learn about safe notarization practices and how to properly protect documents. Many states provide training classes through community colleges and other institutions.
Certifications: Once a notary public has completed their training, they must pass an exam and obtain licensure from their state.
Notary Public Skills
The following skills are required for this job:
Organizational skills: The notary public must have excellent organizational skills in order to keep track of all documents, appointments, and deadlines.
Communication skills: A notary public must be able to communicate effectively with clients.
Time management skills: A notary public must be able to manage time well so that he or she can meet deadlines.
Good writing skills: The notary public must be able to write clearly and concisely because he or she will often need to draft legal documents.
Knowledge of law: Notaries must know the laws that govern their work. They also need to understand the relevant business, legal, and financial issues related to documents they are asked to notarize.
Attention to detail: A notary public must carefully read and understand documents presented for notarization and verify that all information is correct before signing.
Notary Public Work Environment
Notaries public are often self-employed. Some work for banks, title companies, law firms, and government agencies. Notaries may be on call to work weekends and evenings.
Notary publics usually work in an office environment. They must be able to sit or stand for long periods of time while reviewing documents or talking with clients. The job can be mentally demanding because notaries must be able to focus on details while listening to clients’ explanations about the documents they’re signing.
Notary Public Career Advancement
Some notaries may move on to become legal assistants. Others may choose to become legal document preparers. If you enjoy working with people and helping them throughout the legal process, this may be a natural next step for you. As a legal document preparer, you will review legal documents and advise clients on what needs to be changed and what should be removed. You can also help them prepare for legal situations and file their documents with the court.
You can also advance to become a notary public administrator. This role is responsible for the overall administration of the notary public services offered by the state. It is also responsible for the education of new notaries public and for setting the standard of the profession.
Notary Public Trends
Here are three trends influencing how notary public professionals work. Notary public professionals will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Remote notary public
Although most notaries will still work from a traditional office, the increasing popularity of online services has led to the development of more remote notary publics.
Online notary services allow users to complete the application process from their own homes, and many even allow for video conferences between clients and notaries. This has increased convenience for clients and provides a greater range of opportunities for notaries looking to work from home.
Increased Need for Translators
As the U.S. economy becomes increasingly globalized, notary publics will need to develop a strong understanding of multiple languages in order to fulfill their duties and serve clients more effectively.
Currently, there are over 180 different languages spoken in the United States with Spanish, Chinese, and Tagalog ranking as the most commonly spoken second languages in the country.
The Increasing Importance of Technology
Since notary publics need to be on the cutting edge of technology, they must understand new technologies and integrate them into their practices.
For example, digital signature software is becoming more common among notaries as it provides many benefits for both parties involved in a transaction, such as convenience and accuracy.
How to Become a Notary Public
1. Planning Your Career Path
If you want to become a notary public, it’s important to research the licensing requirements in your state. The application process varies by location, but you can usually expect to submit an application, pay a fee, and write an exam.
Although the duties are often not complex to perform, this position holds a high level of responsibility. Notaries must be officially appointed by the government and sworn in to uphold their duty; this means that they must adhere to strict guidelines and can face severe penalties if they violate these rules. Therefore, one needs to be responsible, trustworthy, and be a good judge of character. Attention to detail and following procedures is also important for this role.
2. Writing a Resume
The best resumes for notary public positions focus on the ability to communicate effectively, maintain confidentiality, and keep accurate records. List your skills that directly relate to these attributes with specific examples. For example, if you have experience in customer service or working with the public, be sure to include this in your description of previous work experience.
It’s important to emphasize how your skills will help your employer achieve their goals. This could be through providing fast and efficient service, helping clients with complex transactions, or improving office efficiency through implementation of new processes or technology.
3. Applying for Jobs
A notary’s main source of business is personal referrals, so it is important to get involved with the community. You can also contact your state’s notary association to see if they have any upcoming conferences or networking events that you can attend.
Another way to increase your chances of finding a job as a notary public is to network with banks and financial institutions. Banks often hire notaries for busy branches that are frequently visited by customers. If you are able to meet with a manager at one of these locations, you can tell them that you are looking for more hours in order to increase your income. If the manager has space in their schedule, they may offer you work without requiring an interview.
4. Ace the Interview
Be prepared for questions about your availability and schedule flexibility. The employer will likely want to make sure you can take on the job and that you can fit it into your life. The most important thing you can do during a notary public interview is to come across as a confident, experienced candidate with a lot to contribute to the company.
Be ready to answer questions about your knowledge of the law and your ability to understand and follow it. It is also important for notaries to know how to keep records such as who they issued a notary stamp or seal, when it was issued, and what the specific purpose of the notary was.
To prepare for this role, take several practice tests which you can find online. Be sure to take note of areas where you need improvement and study those areas particularly hard. You should also take advantage of any free online resources available to help you brush up on any areas of weakness before your interview.