How to Become a Process Server: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a process server. Research the career requirements, training and licensure information and experience required for starting a career in process serving.

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Do I Want to Be a Process Server?

Process servers deliver legal documents to the named clients or defendants in legal proceedings, including court summons, subpoenas, complaints, private lawsuits and other court dealings. They are responsible for delivering the documents while abiding by state and federal laws. Care must be taken when dealing with potentially distraught or aggressive receivers of documents.

Job Requirements

The requirements to become a process server vary widely based on jurisdiction. No degree is required, but training programs, certifications or licenses might be needed. For example, Delaware only requires servers to register, while Connecticut states that only state marshals can serve papers. The best way to learn state requirements is to contact a local county clerk or courthouse for specific details. The following table outlines basic common requirements to become a process server according to the International Process Servers Association:

Common Requirements
Degree Level No degree is required; completion of a training program may be necessary
Licensure and Certification A state-issued license or certification may be required depending on the state
Key Skills Patience, stamina, dedication, courteous personality, knowledge of state and federal laws
Additional Requirements Candidates must be above 18 years old, possess a driver's license and have no criminal history

Step 1: Complete a Training Program

All process servers are required to follow applicable state and federal laws; therefore, most aspiring servers attend training programs. Prospective process servers can typically find training through state associations, sheriff's offices or at college campuses. The programs train process servers in federal and state laws, as well as provide students with the basic principles that guide the serving process. Servers can learn research and surveillance techniques, serving tactics and methods of proof of serving through a training program. Process servers interested in freelancing their work to multiple attorneys or clients can also learn entrepreneurial skills through training.

Success Tips

  • Learn a foreign language. Learning a foreign language is helpful because servers frequently encounter people who do not speak English. Process servers can learn foreign languages through private tutoring sessions, online classes, courses at community centers or through programs at community colleges.

Step 2: Gain Certification or Licensure

Some states require the completion of a certification or licensure exam as part of the application process to become a server. In addition to completing a training program, certification or licensure may require applicants to submit an application, pass a background check and complete an exam. Other requirements may include the submission of proof of liability insurance. Additionally, servers must be over 18 years of age and not a party to the litigation.

Step 3: Gain Experience

Process servers can find positions within specific jurisdictions, as well as through private companies including law offices or collection agencies. Additionally, process servers can start their own businesses and sell their services to law offices. Much of a process server's time is divided between delivering papers and researching recipients of papers. Process servers research and learn as much as they can about the people to whom they will deliver papers, including where the recipient lives and works. Process servers learn to provide exceptional service in a variety of environments.

Step 4: Continue Education

Process servers should continue their educations throughout their careers in order to stay current on laws and trends in the field. Servers can find continuing education options through workshops, seminars and other events, typically arranged by professional organizations or private training academies.

Success Tip

  • Join a professional organization. Many state and national associations exist, including the National Association of Professional Process Servers (NAPPS). Members of the NAPPS are offered certification opportunities as well as access to education, events and job listings.
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