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So, You’re Just A Notary?

The many skills of a Notary

“So, you’re just a Notary?” I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said that to me. I could retire somewhere tropical. But it’s such a common question that I’ve given this answer a lot of thought — and now I’m prepared.

My answer goes something like this:

I Am A Professional Paper Pusher.

I deal in paper — lots and lots of paper. Looking at the amount of closings I have done, I have personally been involved in the eradicating of thousands of trees.

I Am A Circus Performer.

I juggle a purse the size of a small suitcase on one arm and a stack of papers in the other. I have to drag all this from car to house, skirting toys, potholes, dog poop and puddles in your driveway. I have to walk on the only tiny strip of pavement I see because the walkway isn’t shoveled and then stand in your doorway and try to balance myself so I don’t fall over as I try to take my shoes off with no free hands.

I Am An Animal Control Officer.

I have to keep your dog from jumping, drooling and accidentally peeing on my leg. I have to keep your cat from sitting on the table, on my papers, as we try to sign. I have to keep my stamp steady as your dog nudges my arm hoping for a treat. I have to keep your cat from crawling into my purse.

I Am A Babysitter.

I have held crying babies, chatted with children about their school day or a television show, and used more crayons as an adult than I have as a child. I have to keep your kids entertained and quiet so we can get your signing done.

I Am A Housekeeper.

I have moved piles of stuff to work my way into homes that should be on the show Hoarders. I have cleared chairs and tables, put dirty dishes in the sink and wiped, I have no idea what, off of tables so the papers don’t end up a sticky mess.

I Am A Mediator.

I have sat and witnessed the Jerry Springer show in real life. I have had to keep a cool head, not take sides, calm everyone down and get the papers signed before the pots and pans start flying.

I Am A Life Coach And Keeper Of Secrets.

I have listened to people tell me the most intimate details of their lives. They have laughed, yelled and cried in my presence all while looking to a complete stranger for some validation.

I Am A Saint.

Not because of my virtue, but because of my patience. I have waited while you finished dinner, answered your phone, washed dishes, changed your kid’s diaper, took your dog out, changed your clothes, looked for your purse so you can show me ID, watered your plants, yelled at your spouse and hunted for your reading glasses.

I Am A Master Of Disguise.

I have to dress professionally and in clothing that conceals the pet hair from your house, the dribble from your baby, the dirt on your chair, the syrup on your table and the mud I walked through.

I Am A Computer Geek.

I have to know how to get your printer going so we can print one more document from your lender that needs to be on legal size paper. I have to figure out how to make a copy of your ID that should have been photocopied before I arrived.

I Am A Timekeeper.

I have to keep you on schedule so I can make my next appointment or the last FedEx pickup.

I Am A Martyr ... Sort Of.

I have to take one for the team, as you yell at me because your loan officer didn’t answer his phone and didn’t return phone calls, your processor asked for the same documents over and over and over, there was an open lien on title and it took forever to get the release and you should have closed months ago.

I Am A Student.

I have to keep up on all the latest industry changes and regulations, not just for Notaries but for the title and mortgage industries, as well. Webinars and tests are a constant.

I Am A Master.

I have to know all the rules and regulations. I have to know what each document in that package means. I have to know what questions I can or cannot answer. I have to know what I can and cannot say. I have to know my stuff and can recite my closing spiel in my sleep.

“So, you’re just a Notary?” Yes. Yes, I am.

Marcy Tiberio is a NNA 2015 Notary of the Year Honoree and owner of Professional Notary Services, Inc., in Rochester, New York. She can be reached at

Related Articles:

Long-Term Outlook For Notary Signing Agents Strong

Why Notary Signing Agents Need Background Screenings

What Companies Look For When Hiring Notary Signing Agents

Additional Resources:

Notary Signing Agent Code of Conduct

Signing Agent Tools

Signing Agent Certification


Add your comment

Owetta F Robinson

13 Jun 2016

You always have great advice for NSA, but what do you have for a basic notary? I don't have training in NSA. I don't possess a vehicle, so I can't travel to the signers home. They come to me. I have looked into the I-9 form but I haven't found enough info for it in Cincinnati, OH. Anymore suggestions?

National Notary Association

14 Jun 2016

Hello Owetta. You may want to look into some of the general business tips articles in our "Building Your Business" category. You can find articles here:

Wendy Kryger

15 Jun 2016

Marcy what a great article, and yes, I am "just a notary" as well! :-)

Deb Barclay

16 Jun 2016

Great article, I didn't know it could be condensed and told so well, with such humor! I pictured in my mind some of these same situations I have been in myself and it brought the tears, I was laughing so hard. The situations we find ourselves in at times, well, you just can't make that stuff up.


16 Jun 2016

I couldn't have said it better myself! The only thing that you missed is a comment I often hear, "Your job looks like it is SO MUCH FUN! Sometimes it is difficult to contain myself when I hear this; however, my usual response that they only see the "tip of the iceberg" and there is a lot more to this profession that meets the eye!

Cheryl Kaster

27 Jun 2016

I am an educated, knowledgeable, prudent, "last line of defense against fraud." That is more important than all of the others together and what makes it so egregious for states, such as Hawaii, to not require Notaries to be educated...making my Commission not worth the paper it is written on and putting CLUELESS and DANGEROUS Notaries free to perform notarizations on the unsuspecting public.

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