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Notary Public: Job Description and Education Requirements

Notaries public require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and commission requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

Commissioned by the state government, a notary public witnesses the signing of documents and administers oaths. He or she also might collect affidavits and authenticate signatures. Minimum education and other requirements vary widely by state; in many cases, a notary public must be an American citizen at least 18 years old and in possession of a high school diploma or the equivalent. A formal application, training and a certification exam might be required.

Notaries public might be court reporters or other office and administrative support workers. A court reporter has typically completed a postsecondary training program and earned professional Registered Professional Reporter certification or a state license, while office and administrative support workers usually have a high school diploma or the equivalent.

Required Education Varies by state
Other Requirements Varies by state, but can include training and an exam
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 10% for court reporters*
3%-7% for office and administrative support workers, all other**
Median Annual Salary (2013) $49,560 for court reporters*
$32,000 for office and administrative support workers, all other*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net OnLine.

Job Description

The main tasks of a notary public are to witness and authenticate signatures, administer oaths, verify signatures and take affidavits. Notaries public are utilized by state governing bodies to prevent fraud and theft within public matters. Notaries public must also keep documentation of all that they've notarized, which is done with an embossed seal or stamp that verifies their presence at the signing of a particular document.

Once appointed by the state government, a notary receives a personal identification number to prevent fraudulent use of the seal, as well as provide a record of that notary public's activity. Notaries public must be knowledgeable about current laws and government practices.

Some court reporters are required to be notaries public. Furthermore, a notary public cannot refuse to serve people unless he or she is uncertain of a signer's identity or mental awareness.

Educational Requirements

There are no set educational requirements to become a notary public; other requirements vary by state. Typically, a notary public must be at least 18 years of age, hold a high school diploma or equivalent and be a U.S. citizen. Some states recommend postsecondary education in political science; however, it's not required. Other state requirements might include purchasing a reference manual, submitting an application and obtaining a recommendation. Additionally, students might complete notary training offered through the National Notary Association (NNA).

NNA training can be completed through live seminars, independent study workbooks, CD-ROM or online courses. This program trains students in state regulation, notary errors and notary law. Students also might have access to the Certified Notary Signing Agent Program, which is a comprehensive course that covers all facets of notary public job duties, as well as error prevention. Upon completion of the program, students are qualified to complete the certification exam and become an NNA Certified Notary Signing Agent.

Career and Salary Outlook

From 2012 to 2022, court reporters were projected to see a 10% increase in jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This estimate is as fast as the national average across all occupations (www.bls.gov). The agency also reported that court reporters earned a median annual salary of $49,560 in 2013.

Office and administrative support workers, all other, can expect slower job growth, per the BLS; jobs are predicted to increase 3%-7% from 2012-2022. The median pay for this occupation was $32,000 in 2013.

PayScale.com reported that as of September 2014, notaries public earned a median annual salary of $39,035.

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