Serving as a notary is a lesser-known, but potentially lucrative, side gig — one that can pull in $2,400 a month for some workers.
A notary witnesses signatures on legal documents in order to prevent fraud. Notaries oversee signatures on mortgage documents, marriage licenses, deeds, and more to verify that they're authentic. They also confirm the signer's identity in the process.
Notary laws vary from state to state, as do start-up costs. Depending on your location, you may need to complete a notary course, take a certification test, keep a journal of each job you do, and purchase a personalized notarization stamp. Notaries also need liability insurance, in case a client disputes errors that cause a financial loss.
States typically set the standards around how much a notary can charge, and rates vary depending on the type of documents being notarized. Maximum signature fees range from 50 cents in Vermont to $15 in California, for example. In some states, notaries can sent their own fees.
Here are a few tips from three successful notaries.
Lisa Prince, 41, of Fairfield, California, became a notary 16 years ago when the law office at which she worked as a paralegal needed one. Prince offered to step up, and her office paid for her notary training.
She started notarizing documents in-house and then turned her new skill into a side hustle. She doesn't advertise — clients contact her directly or find her in a company directory.
Prince charges between $125-$350 per job, each of which typically requires multiple signatures. Her higher paying jobs tend to be loan documents because it takes more time to parse the information: "You need to understand verbiage and answer questions, if the third party has any."
Samantha Lawson, 34, a human resources manager for a roofing company in Colorado Springs, Colorado, took on a side hustle as a notary and found a lucrative niche notarizing real estate documents. Lawson says a signing package for the sale of a house may be 200 pages long and require 20 signatures, with six pages that need notarizing, she says. Lawson charges $75 for a seller's package (meaning several pages that require signatures) and $150 for a buyer's package. If travel is required, she tacks $20-$30 onto the total costs.
Lawson averages five seller packages per week. So at $75 apiece plus travel, her side hustle brings in up to $2,400 per month, depending on her travel time.
Lawson is registered for an online job board that alerts her and other local notaries through text when a gig comes up: "You're kind of fighting for the loan signings," she says. "It's first come, first serve. If you get to it first, you'll get it, unless they request a specific notary. It's a competitive market in Colorado Springs."
Josie Guvera, 34, lives in Lancaster, California, and works for the county of Los Angeles as a community health worker. She took on a side hustle as a notary to earn extra money to support her four children after noticing that there were few bilingual notaries in her area.
Guvera averages $100 per job. She finds clients through a national notary service that alerts her when jobs pop up. Guvera is also willing to travel from her rural town to surrounding big cities, which gives her a wider client base: "For me, 98% of my notarizations come from Spanish speaking clients, so that gives me a foot up, gives me more of an advantage."
If you're considering a side hustle as a notary, Guvera says it's important to set realistic goals. "You won't get five or 10 signings in a weekend at the start until you develop those relationships with clients. You can expect one or two a week, but keep going and take the little jobs — the big one will come."
More from Grow: