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Notary Public: Job Description and Education Requirements

Appointed by the state government, a notary public is a public officer that witnesses the signing of documents and administers oaths. They may also be responsible for collecting affidavits and authenticating signatures.

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Job Description of a Notary Public

The main tasks of a notary public are to witness and authenticate signatures, administer oaths, verify signatures and take affidavits. Notary publics are utilized by state governing bodies to prevent fraud and theft within public matters. A notary must also keep documentation of all that they've notarized, which he or she does with an embossed seal or stamp that verifies his or her presence at the signing of a particular document. Once appointed by the state government, a notary receives a personal identification number, which will prevent fraudulent use of the seal, as well as provide a record of that notary public's activity. Public notaries must be knowledgeable in current laws and government practices.

Additionally, some court reporters may be required to be a notary public, but this requirement varies by state. Furthermore, a notary public cannot refuse to serve people unless they are uncertain of a signer's identity or mental awareness.

Educational Requirements of a Notary Public

There are no set educational requirements to become a notary public; however, the 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 may recommend postsecondary education in political science; however, it is not required. Other state requirements may include purchasing a reference manual, submitting an application and obtaining a recommendation. Additionally, students may 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 may also 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 a NNA Certified Notary Signing Agent.

From 2012 to 2022, court reporters were projected to see a 10% increase in jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This estimate is as fast as the national average across all occupations. PayScale.com reported that as of July 2014, notary publics earned a median salary of $39,501.

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