How Can I Become a Process Server?
Research what it takes to become a process server. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you.
What Does a Process Server Do?
Process servers hand deliver legal papers, including summonses and subpoenas, for local and state governments. As part of their job, they must keep subpoena logs and complete certificates of service. Aside from these responsibilities they may also contact witnesses and conduct jail visits. This career requires process servers to come in face-to-face contact with individuals who are not going to be happy with the documents they are delivering, thus it is not uncommon to be escorted by a sheriff's deputy. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.
|Key Responsibilities|| Serve subpoenas |
Locate and contact witnesses
Maintain accurate logs of contacts
|Training Required||State- or county-approved training course|
|Licensure Required||Required in some states|
|Mean Salary (2019)||$37,239*|
Find a Local Process Service Organization
Because process servers are responsible for hand-delivering legal documents on behalf of local or state governments, the profession is regulated by those same governments. Training, credential and other eligibility requirements may vary widely from one municipality to the next. If you want to be a process server, the first step is to contact your state or county's process server organization so you can find out what your daily job duties will entail and what credentialing is required.
Some states have statewide associations of process servers; in other cases, process servers are governed by county courts. Not only do government associations regulate and screen process servers, they also determine the procedures by which papers must be served.
You'll generally have to complete a state- or county-approved training course to become an official process server. Some local sheriff's offices run their own process server training programs, or you may be able to attend a training course at approved private investigation agencies or community colleges that offer courses based on the laws of the area.
Process server courses generally teach the local or state laws for serving lawsuit papers, subpoenas, complaints, injunctions and other legal documents. You learn methods and techniques for locating individuals to whom documents need to be served and ensuring that they're served correctly, even if recipients are evasive. Training courses discuss when you must serve papers directly to their recipient and when you can serve them to a relative or housemate. They also teach the proper legal procedures for obtaining and submitting documentation that the papers have been served. Some courses may also cover process service ethics and safety precautions.
Determine and Meet Local Credential Requirements
Process server licensure, certification or registration requirements differ as widely as the document delivery procedures. You'll likely need to be registered as a process server with your state or county courts in order to begin receiving work assignments. Typically, you must be 18 years of age or older, have a clean criminal record and be a legal resident of your county or state in order to register. These requirements also generally apply in jurisdictions that require licensure or certification.
To obtain certification, you'll typically have to submit documentation of your completed process server training course to an official state or municipal court review board which grants or denies certification. When licensure is required, you'll generally need to pass a state or county licensure exam testing your knowledge of all local laws applying to process servers, as well as meeting the age and criminal background check requirements for registration. Once you obtain all credentials required in your area, you're officially a process server and can accept and complete assignments from state courts, private legal companies or both.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
Billing, cost, and rate clerks have the responsibility of preparing billing statements, communicating with company customers regarding rates and serves, checking accounts for billing errors and performing bookkeeping work. Individuals in this professional may get by with just a high-school diploma. Legal secretaries prepare legal documents including summonses, and subpoenas. While they may not hand deliver these documents, they do arrange for their delivery. They also answers phones, organize documents and arrange meetings. Most individuals in this career have high-school diploma or a post-secondary certificate.