Official paperwork often needs a stamp of approval from a professional called a notary public. But what exactly is a notary and where can you learn how to become a notary?
Below is Career Karma’s guide to what it means to be a notary and how you can become a notary public following a step-by-step guide on becoming a professional notary.
What is a Notary?
A notary is a professional, usually someone who performs other primary job functions, who acts as an impartial witness to the signing of important documents. The notary process entails the witnessing of the signing. Sometimes, the notary must put the signer under oath.
What Does a Notary Do?
A notary supervises the signing of important documents to confirm they are not fraudulent. This requires a certain amount of training and a commission certificate from the notary public commission. Ultimately, your main responsibility will be to notarize documents and provide an engaging user experience to clients.
Screen the Signers of Important Documents
A notary public must verify the identities of those signing the documents in question. They must also screen the signers to make sure they are willing to sign and are not being intimidated to do so. Notaries should also make sure signers are aware of the scope of the document’s contents.
Ensure Proper Signing of Documents
The primary role of a notary is to preside over the signing of documents that require notary seals, making sure all signers fully accept the terms. Such documents include property deeds, marriage licenses, wills, powers of attorney, or surety bonds.
The rationale behind notary requirements is to provide an impartial witness that can attest to the proper signing of a document.
Stamp Documents With Notary Seals
After signers have signed the document, a notary signs the document and puts their official notary seal next to it. This seal or stamp authenticates the notary’s signature and makes the notary process official.
Essential Notary Skills
Acceptable Criminal Background
Notary publics must pass a strict set of background requirements before the Secretary of State can approve their state notary public application. In California, for example, at least 10 years must have passed since the applicant was convicted of a felony and completed probation.
It is very important that a notary public complies with all requirements of the notary oath of office. This includes doing everything they can to uphold the legitimacy and authenticity of the signature process.
Notary publics should be organized individuals because of the kinds of records they are required to keep. They must keep a log or journal of all of the documents they have notarized. If they fail to do this, those documents may become null and void.
Notary Salaries and Job Outlook
According to ZipRecruiter, the average notary public salary varies by state, since each state has different requirements and licenses for the profession. Salaries also depend on the job function, since some notaries may be administrative assistants while others may have better-compensated paralegal jobs.
The mean annual salary for a notary public ranges from $29,199 in North Carolina to $39,819 in New York. Additionally, most document signers pay a filing fee of $10 per document.
According to the National Notary Association, notaries are in high demand in industries like banking, finance, healthcare, law, and more. Becoming a notary while staying in your current job in any of these industries can really add to your skillset and make you more employable across the board.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Notary?
It only takes a few months to become a notary as long as you meet all of the requirements and follow your state’s unique application process.
How to Become a Notary: A Step by Step Guide
Below is a general guide to what you’ll need to do to become a notary in your state. Supplement your research by looking up your state’s specific requirements.
Step 1: Make Sure You Meet All of the Requirements
Again, each state has different requirements for people to become notaries. For example, Florida requires that you be at least 18-years-old and a legal resident of Florida.
Step 2: Take the Notary Course and Notary Exam
Notary applicants must take a multiple-hour notary course in their state. Upon completion of this course, most states require that you register for and take the official state notary exam within two years.
Use the calendar below to reserve your seat.
Step 3: Gather Materials and Submit Application
Applicants should gather all required materials, like copies of their driver’s license and their voter registration, and submit their application in a reasonable period of time.
Step 4: Purchase Notary Supplies and Notary Seal
Once you have received a response, you will need to purchase your notary materials before filing your public oath and bond. You will need to purchase the bond and then get a notary public journal and a notary public seal.
Step 5: File Notary Public Oath and Bond
You should submit your application to the state bond agency and they will submit your application to the state for approval. All notary public officials must file an oath of office and bond with their county.
Should You Become a Notary in 2020?
Developing yourself as a professional is always a good idea. It is an especially good idea in 2020. If you work in an industry where notary services are required, becoming a notary yourself is a great way to add to your marketable skills and make yourself more employable overall.
Additionally, remote online notarizations are becoming increasingly popular and more common. This means that as a notary public, you may be able to perform your job duties remotely in 2020.
Can you make good money being a notary?
The average income of notaries in different states ranges from $29,199 and $39,814 per year. The average is higher for those serving as notaries in addition to working in full-time roles as paralegals or other well-compensated administrative roles.
Why should I become a notary?
Becoming a notary is a great way to add a marketable skill to your resume.
Can I be a notary for myself?
No. A notary must be an impartial witness with no stakes in a document signing. For that reason, you cannot serve as your own notary.