If you are a notary or thinking about becoming one, no doubt you have thought about the different types of notary work and niches and how you can maximize your growth and potential in the field.
Becoming a general notary is fine, but if you really want to expand your horizons and secure more opportunities you should consider learning and educating yourself on one or more niches.
To break it down further, notaries usually do work that falls into one of three categories.
These 3 categories include: general notary work, loan signings (notary signing agents), or non-notary services.
Before the different types of niches are discussed, let’s look at the types of documents in general notary work.
Types of Documents in General Notary Work
Many documents may require a notary. Let’s examine them.
This is a common type of notarization where the notary is presented with documents and a photo ID to verify that the person presenting the documents is who they say they are. After that they witness the person placing their signature on the record.
In some instances, an oath may be required before any signatures, although this isn’t the case for signature witnessing.
Oaths and Affirmations
Documents requiring an oath or affirmation must be signed in the presence of a notary.
This is done when the custodian of the documents is legally stating that their intentions are true and honorable. A wedding is an example where this type of notary would take place.
When documents concerning valuable assets are involved, such as a deed or mortgage, an acknowledgment is normally required. The acknowledgment will confirm the identity of the signer and that the signature was voluntary.
This type of notarizing involves the notary not only verifying documents and identification, but also an oath swearing that the information in the documents is accurate to the best of their knowledge.
Copy certification is used to help verify that a copy of an official government document is, in fact, a real copy. These types of documents might have a seal on them. Some examples include marriages licenses, diplomas, and medical records.
Niches to Consider
The key to succeeding in a notary niche is finding a niche that caters to your skills and expertise and fits a community or market need.
If you have a unique skill, background, or interest in certain industries then even better. Some industries where a niche would work well include real estate, law enforcement or social work, and the medical industry.
To narrow it down even more, you may find a niche in handling I-9 verification forms, doing loan signings, notarizing requests for inmates, officiating weddings, international adoptions, advance health care directives, mentoring other notaries, and more.
If you’re just getting started in the notary business, it’s best to start as out doing general notary work and learn about the basics. From there you will starting learning more about the different notarizations and processes and can branch out to other areas and industries.
Do research when deciding on a niche. Research what the needs are of your community. Figure out any special needs some may have. Make a list of the types of documents that need notarizing. How often do these documents need notarizing? Get specialized training in the areas that interest you the most or that you already have some knowledge of.
You should also build relationships with individuals and businesses that might need your services. For example, visit some title companies to see if they need a notary. Some may already have a regular notary they use, but certainly not every title company in town. Visit hospitals to see if they need a notary for health-related documents. Since you can charge for travel, be willing to possibly go to other areas that may not be as close by.
The average pay is $75-$150 for a loan signing. That means you get paid at least $75 for an hour or so of your time. Typically, $75 is on the low end but the pay will depend. For instance, if you choose to work with a signing service you will get paid more on the low end as opposed to if you worked directly with an agent or escrow officer. Just be sure signing agents are used regularly in your state. In the loan signing agent industry, there are attorney states and escrow states. The states that close with an escrow process have significantly more opportunity to make money on the side or full time because escrow states typically use independent loan signing agents. Attorney states are more likely to use an in-house notary signing agent. In addition, there are some states where an attorney simply needs to be present while a signing agent does the notarization. Keep in mind that these types of conditions can change at any time due to legislation.
Only a few states require you take a course to become a notary. A few also require you pass an exam. But many states don’t require either. So be sure to research your state first before you make your decision. Either way, it’s still worth it. Whether you must take an exam and/or course to become a notary or not, I always recommend taking a course in the niche you want to explore.
General mobile notary work is popular for hospitals as people in hospitals need documents notarized. It’s unfortunate but that’s the time when many people need to get their documents in order such as power of attorney documents and advanced health directives. And again, you can charge a travel fee in addition to the notarization.
Mentoring is big business for those in the notary business. Newbies often seek out mentors to help them learn the business. It’s not necessary especially if you’re a go-getter but it’s great if you can hire a mentor to show you the ropes. Some notaries provide consulting services to other notaries teaching them what they’ve learned over the years.
Last, but not least, perhaps education is your thing. Once you have some experience and a few years under your belt you might consider teaching, speaking, or coaching assignments. Maybe you want to teach a class at the local community college. Or you take on events speaking to others as the notary business. And much like mentoring, you might consider coaching.
Some other areas to investigate that may require a notary and can help you find a niche include bankruptcy petitions, fingerprinting, inspections, and legal aid type services and places.
Remember, when it comes to becoming a notary, the most important aspect is to educate yourself! Study and learn the trends and issues of the industry. Just because you may be practicing in a current field doesn’t mean that you know everything. You will need to constantly learn as rules, laws, policies, and regulations change.
The notary business can be lucrative and fulfilling. The trick is to not limit yourself to one aspect of the notary business.