If you’re thinking about a career change, you’ve perhaps contemplated becoming a notary. And it’s a great idea given that you can do it no matter your age, education, or previous experience.
Plus, notaries make a pretty decent living, so it’s not half bad money-wise either.
All in all, it’s a good career choice and an ideal side hustle if that’s what you’re looking for.
But just like everything else in life, the job of a notary also has its ups and downs. So if you’re determined to do it, you better familiarize yourself with the highlights and the drawbacks that come with it.
Luckily, we have all the answers, so you’re in the right place!
In our comprehensive list, you can get all the info on the pros and cons of being a notary, so let’s dig in.
What Does A Notary Do?
Before we get into details, let’s see what exactly being a notary includes. You probably have a vague idea of what the job involves, but maybe you’re not so sure about the precise details.
Don’t sweat it, it’s completely expected – after all, most people don’t know a lot about being a notary until they develop an interest in becoming one.
So, what exactly does a notary do?
In layman’s terms, a notary witnesses signatures on documents in order to deter fraud and ensure they are properly executed. It’s crucial that the notary is an impartial witness and as such makes sure that all sides are of legal age and sane minds.
A notary is a person authorized to perform acts in legal affairs, and they have certain duties, such as:
- Identifying those involved in the document by acquiring proofs of identity
- Recording the proof of identity in the register
- Determining whether the person is of full age and capacity
- Sealing, stamping and signing the document
- Recording all steps in the register
- Charging a fee for the service
- and so on…
These are just some of the responsibilities that are expected from a notary.
How To Become A Notary?
Do you know what the requirements for becoming a notary are?
A degree is not necessary, but a certificate or an associate’s degree in political science, criminal justice, or paralegal studies can be extremely helpful for professional advancement.
You are required to have a license granted by the state, and some experience might be a prerequisite, but the good news is that it’s not mandatory in most cases.
Besides the technical stuff, there are some qualities that make a good notary. They include having strong organizational skills, the ability to multitask, and so forth.
One thing’s crucial to remember – you can’t work as a notary if you have a criminal record and previous convictions – this will be thoroughly checked.
So, what are the steps you need to take to become a notary?
- Submit an application – you can find an application in the secretary of state’s office or website. You’ll need to fill information on prior notary commissions, criminal history, and to provide an ID.
- Attend training – you need to complete training that covers the legal requirements and duties of a notary.
- Pass a notary exam – there are options to take the test in person or online, and the state will let you know if you passed or not. If you pass, you’ll receive a notary commission certificate and you’ll have to fill an oath of office.
- Purchase necessary materials – once you get certified, you must get a record book where you’ll keep track of official acts you perform. You also need to acquire a notary public seal.
- Take and file an oath – the most important thing in this step is to meet the deadline. You’ll be given a time frame during which it must be done, and if you don’t respect it, your commission can become invalid.
And that’s it. Congrats, you’re officially a notary!
Now that the hard part is done, what can you expect from your new job?
Pros Of Being A Notary
Let us begin with the good stuff, and why you should seriously consider becoming a notary.
1. Easy To Start
- If you’re feeling lost or you just need a career change, opting for a notary job is a good idea because it doesn’t require a lot in the beginning.
- For starters, you don’t need to have a degree.
- What’s more, the experience is not always required. Just a heads up, sometimes it is a prerequisite, but in most cases, it’s not.
- The only requirement in all cases is that you are of legal age – you must be 18 years old.
- Besides that, you also have to pay a fee, but it’s totally affordable compared to what you’ll earn once you become certified.
2. Flexible Schedule
- One of the main perks of being a notary is that you have a flexible schedule.
- Not only can you choose when to work, you can also choose where to work. Plenty of people decide to be mobile notaries, and this kind of work involves a lot of driving and different locations – but still according to your schedule.
- What does this mean for you?
- Well, it means you have the full freedom to set your hours and your territory, but you’re also the one responsible for sticking to the schedule.
3. Profitable Part-Time Job
- One more highlight of the notarial profession is that you don’t have to do it full-time if you don’t want to.
- Since you have so much flexibility, working as a notary can easily be your side hustle, a convenient way to make some extra money.
- You get to choose if you want to commit to it fully or just do it alongside your primary job. Do a couple of signings per week or do ten a day – it’s up to you. Whatever you set your eyes on, you can do it.
- Which brings us to our next pro – a pretty good salary.
4. Decent Salary
- Since you can choose how much work you want to undertake, you can also control how much money you make. How hard you work actually determines your earning possibilities.
- Of course, you should be aware that the earning potential is not unlimited, but if you put in enough hard work, time and energy, you can make a nice figure.
- For example, notary signing agents can earn up to $200 per hour. You have to admit, it’s more than awesome.
- Oh, and let’s not forget that notaries get paid on the spot, so you can forget about conniving clients trying to get out of paying.
5. Tax Benefits
- And one more thing – you’ll love this one:
- Notarial income is not subject to self-employment tax. In fact, you’re eligible for legitimate business tax write-offs, just like when you run a business. (For detailed information on this, we strongly suggest you talk to your tax advisor)
Cons Of Being A Notary
Naturally, the notary job has some disadvantages. Let’s check them out.
1. Limited Earning Potential
- This one is not that big of a con, it’s just something to keep in mind if you initially thought the job of a notary would make you a fortune – it won’t, but it can certainly be a profitable career. You just need to be aware the earning potential is somewhat limited.
- But again, this is not that much of a con – there are bigger ones for sure.
2. Few Long-Term Clients
- So this is the thing about being a notary – the average person seldom requires notaries’ services, so you don’t really have any clients with whom you can build rapport and have a long-term relationship.
- However, you can always try to get major companies or law firms as your clients, in which case you’d have a more steady income from a single client.
3. Extra Expenses And Side Knowledge Required
- Like any type of self-employment, being a notary also brings a few extra expenses, like office supplies, a car, and similar.
- Plus, you also have to possess some small business skills, like knowing how to build a reputable business, how to get new clients, etc.
Pros And Cons Of Being a Notary – Final Word
Notaries have it good, most of the time.
Our list of pros and cons of being a notary is thorough, but there are always the little things that differ from one person to another – it can be kind of subjective.
But if you’re keen on becoming a full-time notary, or you just need some side money (pretty decent side money, if we might add), we recommend you take all the things above into consideration.
If it still seems like a good idea, then, by all means, go for it.
It might not be easy initially, and you may have to work extra hard, but it’ll get easier as you gain experience and knowledge and climb up the ladder of professional advancement.
You can do it!