In the movie "Pineapple Express," the lead character, a process server, drives all over town with a stack of legal papers, such as subpoenas and notices to appear. The large number of documents, the high percentage of services completed, and his ingenuity on the job are signs of a process server who makes a good income. Other factors that affect how much money a process server earns are his locale, experience, and types of serves.
Process servers' incomes vary by state as well as from metropolitan to rural areas. According to ProcessServers.com, a routine process service costs between $35 and $100, with one of the factors being the typical charges for that region. According to the jobs website Simply Hired, as of June 2014, the average annual salary for a process server is $59,000. In New York City, the average is $74,000, and in Omaha, Nebraska, it is $56,000.
Some process servers earn a reputation for "difficult services," meaning certain facets of the service are demanding or onerous. Examples of difficult services are subjects who actively avoid being served; subjects who erect barriers to process servers' entries; mentally unstable or chemically impaired subjects; or those who disappear or are difficult to locate. Process servers typically increase their rates, sometimes substantially, to complete such services. They might also charge additional investigative fees for conducting location searches and surveillance.
Because process servers often conduct investigative tasks, it's not uncommon for them to build a private investigations business as well. So, when a process server researches a person's whereabouts, also called "skip tracing," retrieves court records or conducts surveillance or other services that fall under the category of investigations, the server charges rates comparable to private investigators in the region.
Many states require that process servers are licensed, according to the BLS. They must follow strict legal procedures; training is available on the job or at local colleges and associations.