Notary Bulletin

Five Alternate Ways To Earn Income

By David Thun

Over the past year the NNA has been highlighting a number of resources for signing agents to earn income amid the real estate downturn. We’ve had several requests from our national community to share opportunities that are well suited for a self-employed Notary professional. We will continue to update this list as we learn of new alternatives for making extra money. If you have information on new income opportunities, please contact us at

Mystery Shopper

What is it? A “mystery shopper” visits the business as a customer, and then provides detailed feedback on the experience. Assignments can range from a quick stop at a convenience store or dining at a restaurant to an overnight stay at a hotel.

What qualifications are needed? Anyone can apply to become a mystery shopper. But the shoppers in highest demand are detail-oriented, observant and punctual — traits that successful Notary entrepreneurs typically share.

How much does it pay? Fees can range from $5 for a five-minute store purchase to $100-$200 for an evaluation that requires an overnight hotel stay.

How do I get started? Mystery shoppers typically start by registering with a provider company offering assignments in the shopper’s area. The Mystery Shopping Providers Association is a good place to start. However, be careful to stay away from any companies that want you to pay them in exchange for work — you should never have to pay anyone for mystery shopping assignments.

Field Inspectors

What is it? Field inspectors verify information about businesses. For example, a field inspector might be sent to verify that a medical clinic is a valid business by visiting their address, looking at their business license, talking to a manager or taking photos of the office.

What qualifications are needed? Most inspections require no previous qualifications though a background check may be required. Many companies offer brief training over the phone. Most inspections require a high-speed Internet connection and a digital camera with a flash and a way to time and date stamp each photo. You’ll also need a reliable vehicle.

How much does it pay? A typical inspection — a business verification, for example — generally pays around $35-$40 and takes 10-15 minutes.

How can I get started? The Society of Field Inspectors provides guidance on getting started as a field inspector.

Process Servers

What is it? Process servers serve legal documents such as subpoenas and other court-related documents to individuals.

What qualifications are needed? The laws regulating process servers vary greatly from state to state, so it’s important to know and follow all state laws. Several jurisdictions require fees in order to become a server, as well as other costs such as those incurred for a background check, surety bond, or testing and licensing costs, so be aware that an upfront investment may be necessary to embark on this career opportunity.

How much does it pay? Fees vary between jurisdictions.

How do I get started? For more information you can contact the National Association of Professional Process Servers. You can also search online for local state associations to join.

Virtual Assistant

What is it? Virtual assistants are independent contractors who work remotely from their home or office to provide clients with services such as bookkeeping, event planning, data processing or administrative phone and email support.

What qualifications are needed? This can vary depending on your skill set (administrative assistant, web designer, event planner, etc.). The web page recommends five years of 'brick and mortar' office work experience, computer skills, good grammar and communications skills and the ability to work unsupervised.

How much does it pay? This depends on the type of services provided and the amount charged by the individual assistant.

How can I get started? More information is available through the International Virtual Assistants Association.

Mobile Exam Proctors

What is it? A mobile exam proctor is typically assigned to meet a student taking an exam for an online course at the testing location. When a student takes tests for an online course, typically the student is required to take tests outside the home — at a library, business or anywhere outside the residence with an Internet connection. The mobile proctor supervises the exam and makes sure the student doesn’t cheat.

What qualifications are needed? A background check is the key qualification to ensure that the proctor is trustworthy.

How much does it pay? The typical fee for proctoring an exam is $25-30 per hour. Availability of assignments varies, but can range from 10-20 exams per semester.

How can I get started? You can contact local educational institutions to find out if they have proctoring positions available and what qualifications are required. SmarterProctoring is a service that registers prospective proctors and matches them with available assignments in their area.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

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Quiz: The Many Types Of Notarial Acts

Notaries perform many different duties for the public — and it’s easy to lose track of the different acts and what states they’re authorized in. Test your familiarity with common — and uncommon — notarial acts.

(A link to the correct answers is provided at the end of the quiz.)

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