Courthouse research is another very flexible job you can do outside of the home mostly on your own time. While the work is nothing alike, I do sort of throw this kind of work into the same category as merchandising when it comes to working from home. This is because while the work isn't done in the home, you are mostly free to pick your own hours, and this makes it an attractive option.
While I have done courthouse research for the company I used to work for, I have never done it for any place that specialized in just that. So, I've had to do a little digging to come up with this info for you.
What does a courthouse researcher do?
Basically, you visit courthouses in your area or surrounding areas and collect information from the public records there to give to whatever research company you are working for. The companies need different info for different reasons, so you won't always be looking for the same types of records.
You don't necessarily need any college degree or special skills to do courthouse research, and there are many companies that will hire you whether you've ever done this type of work or not. If you are a beginner, they will help you learn to get started. However, there are some companies that may prefer to hire experienced researchers.
How much does courthouse research pay?
Courthouse research pay varies greatly depending on who you do it for. Some people with lots of experience and speed are able to make up to $20 or more per hour while beginners might make around $7 to $9 an hour.
If you've been researching work at home jobs in search of a full-time income, this probably won't give you that. Instead, it's best to consider this supplemental income since you may not know when work is available to do.
Most courthouse research companies hire you as an independent contractor.
How do you search for the records?
Again this may depend on the courthouse. Some courthouses keep records in large, heavy books while others may have everything on computer. And then some courthouses may have their records in both places.
There is nothing to keep you from searching through the records since it is public information. If you don't know where they are, you should of course ask someone at the courthouse. After you've done the work for a while, you'll know where to go and things won't seem so intimidating.
You will also likely build up your searching speed as you discover the most efficient ways to search for records. Building up speed could increase your hourly pay depending on who you are working for.
Do you visit different courthouses?
Many people visit courthouses in their county but also in surrounding counties, and doing this may keep you in steady work to do. However, if you are traveling a good distance away from your home, you need to keep in mind that you are probably spending additional money on gas. This could make a trip to a neighboring courthouse not worthwhile if it is fairly far away and you're not getting reimbursed for gas mileage.
Something else you can do if you need more work to keep you busy is apply with several different companies that hire for court research.
Can you bring your kids to the courthouse while you do your research?
Technically you can, but you have to realize that that may not be the best idea. Doing courthouse research isn't just a quick trip in and out of the building — it's work. You may end up being there, digging through files, for several hours.
Are your kids going to be able to entertain themselves for that long? Are the people working at the courthouse going to be OK if your children become extremely bored and start disturbing the peace there as a result? Likely not.
So it may be best to do your research on a day when you know you will be kid-free.
Places to apply
Here are a few places I found that you can sign up with to start:
Do you have experience in court research or more companies to add? If so, please share what you know below!
This post originally published in September of 2011. Updated and re-published for 2016.