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Courthouse research offers flexible work that can mostly be done around your schedule. (For a list of companies that hire courthouse researchers, please scroll down the page a bit further .)
It should be noted that this type of work is not typically considered a "work from home position" because you will be travellng to courthouses in your county or nearby counties to collect information for your client and this work would need to be done within the specified courthouse hours (usually 9 am -5 pm Monday- Friday).
However, some parts of the job can be done from home and I'll explain a little more on that in a moment. But first:
I first would like to note that as a courthouse researcher, you will be considered an independent contractor, rather than an employee of the company that you will be working for. For an explanation of the differences between working as an independent contractor vs. working as an employee, please click here.
In short, what that means is that you will not be paid a set hourly wage (more on pay information below) and that you will be responsible for setting aside your own state and federal income taxes, as this will not be done for you.
(It's a good thing to keep that in mind when you receive your paycheck so that you will not have to pay a huge lump sum come tax time.)
As a researcher, your job is to collect information (that is open to the
public) for your clients which may include:
Names and addresses
If you ever wondered how carpet cleaning companies, house painters, roofers, insurance specialists, etc knew to send you mailers welcoming you to your new home after the purchase of your first house (for example) then this is how they know! It's because of the work that courthouse researchers do.
FYI, as an independent contractor, many companies will allow you to apply to and work with various other companies but it's a good idea to read their requirements carefully because some companies have a non-competing clause.
The company that hires you to do this work will typically train you to do the work (unless you are already experienced) but basically you can expect that you can walk into your local county courthouse and ask where you can find the public records that you are seeking.
It is best to stay on good terms with the clerks at the courthouse that you visit so try to be as unobtrusive and polite as possible .
(For example, I would highly suggest that you go alone and not take your children with you because you will actually be doing work, which may take a few hours to complete. I know that my kids would not be able to sit still for that amount of time without letting out some kind of tortured shriek and I suspect that your kids may be in the same boat).
So the trick with courthouse research is not only do you have to collect information (that seems rather easy) the hard part is collecting the records as quickly as possible to make the job pay you a decent amount per hour.
When you first start out working in courthouse research, you may find that you are not making much money, simply because it may take you a while to find your groove and collect the records fast.
Make no mistake, speed (and accuracy) is the name of the game with this job.
Don't get discouraged if your speed (or lack of it) is causing you to not make much $$ per hour at first; with time and perseverance you will see that this can change and be a rewarding supplemental income opportunity.
Pay varies from company to company but the average pay usually ranges around .25-.30 cents per record collected. The record collected , however, has to be free of grammatical errors as much as possible.
After a "breaking in" period, most researchers report that they make an average of $12-15 per hour with the fastest ones coming in around $20 per hour.
1. Some companies may offer more money per record:
Upwards of $1-$3, however, the record may be more difficult or time consuming to locate so you must decide what works best for you, remember, time is money!
2. Other companies may pay you on a commission basis
This is more likely if you are trying to locate probate files, or estates of deceased persons in order to find the heirs. In cases like this, you may be entitled to a "finder's fee" for locating the estate for the heir.
3. Still other companies may pay you by the visit
Be sure to read the company's faqs page for more details on this.
While many researchers have stated that they started out making just a few dollars per hour, many more have gone on to say that they steadily increased their rate per hour in time.
Some researchers can average about $20 per hour but the standard average is about $10-12 per hour, again depending on how many records you can accurately collect per hour.
1. Taking a laptop with you and recording the records on an excel spreadsheet as you go
Rather than writing down the information and then having to go home and input the information on a spreadsheet, which is basically recording the information a second time.
If you can input the information once and be done, that will save you time and money!
You can cut the time spent in half if you are able to record the information on a laptop!
2. Talk to other courthouse researchers that you may encounter at your local courthouse.
Many of them have great tips and shortcuts that may help you collect your records faster.
3. Apply to more than one courthouse research company.
For the best bang for your buck, apply to other companies if you can, and see if they also offer opportunities in the county that you live in.
As work can sometimes be sparse, this is a great way to get you more work which equals more $$
4. If you are able to work neighboring counties, let the company that you are working for know this!
For some of you, this might not be an option as the next closest county may be too far for it to be worth your while. But if you are willing to drive (and the gas cost is not setting you back too much), applying for work in more than one county may give you more steady work as well.
Below is a list of companies you may want to check out. Please remember to read the application instructions very carefully! Some of them will discard your application if not done correctly!
Also, not all of them are hiring now but keep checking their websites from time to time to see when they post available needs!
Good luck and happy hunting!
Wolfgang Courthouse Research
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