Today I have an amazing interview with Linda, the creator of Internet Scoping School. She shares what a scopist does and how you can get started with this work from home career. If you want to learn more, you can take her free 7-day email course on becoming a scopist.
What is a scopist?
A scopist is someone who edits court, deposition, hearing, and other transcripts for court reporters.
When reporters sit in proceedings and type on their machines, it comes out in machine shorthand (steno) which is then translated into English by their machine.
The computer does this by matching the strokes they write against strokes they have preentered into their dictionary.
Any word that isn’t written perfectly or that hasn’t yet been defined into their dictionary comes up either as untranslated or mistranslated into incorrect words.
When the reporter finishes the job, s/he sends the file to a scopist, who reads the transcript word for word, correcting untranslates/mistranslates of steno notes, punctuating, paragraphing, fixing formatting issues, researching spellings, and doing his/her best to get the transcript as close to perfect as possible.Once we complete the file, it then goes back to the reporter or to a professional proofreader for one more read-through before going out to the attorneys.
It is then transmitted electronically and/or bound, copied, and sent to the attorneys and the Court.
How much can a scopist expect to make?
A scopist working full time can probably average 35-45K/year.
This is highly variable depending on several factors: the experience/speed of the scopist; the difficulty/technicality of the proceedings; the skill of the reporter; whether or not the reporter wants a full audio to listen along with the edit; how much rush work the scopist does (which pays more).
A scopist who does a lot of rush work can make significantly more per year, but the stress is much higher because of tight deadlines.
The scopist also needs to be very experienced and a fast editor in order to take on these jobs.
What does a scopist need to start his/her business?
Since almost all scopists are independent contractors, we work from home and send and receive files over the internet.
A scopist needs to have a fairly recent computer, high-speed internet, and the court reporter software, or CAT system (computer-aided transcription), upon which to edit the files.
Is there training involved to become a scopist?
A future scopist needs thorough training on how to expertly do the job.
Since these are legal documents, accuracy is essential. The most thorough scopist training course online is Internet Scoping School.
In order to do a good job for one’s clients, there are certain skills and knowledge a scopist must have, and ISS teaches all of them.
One must have a solid understanding of correct punctuation and word usage; ability to read machine shorthand; knowledge of medical/legal terminology; knowledge of how to put a transcript together from start to finish; training on how to run the court-reporter- specific software; practice on editing files to build one’s expertise and speed; and a knowledge of court reporting terminology, scopist ethics, marketing techniques, time management, basic taxes, and other information.
What tip would you give someone who wants to become a scopist?
If you are a “word nerd,” have always been good at English, enjoy reading and writing, crossword puzzles and word games, these are signs of someone who tends to be a great scopist.
If you are interested in the possibility of a scoping career, go to Scope School.
There is also a free 7-day email series you can sign up for that contains information about scoping, as well as a couple of word skills quizzes that can help you ascertain whether you what it takes to be a successful scopist.
Is being a scopist difficult? Do you think this job is fit for anyone?
Scoping requires a high level of skill and self-discipline. The files must be expertly edited and deadlines tightly adhered to. It definitely is not for everyone.
The most important precursor is an aptitude for language. I have always been good at English and correspondingly horrid at math. The thought of me as an accountant is laughable, but scoping fits me perfectly!
I can teach a student everything they need to know to be a successful scopist, but if they don’t have that natural aptitude for English, they may not succeed.
If you do have a gift for words and would like to run your own business, scoping is an amazing profession. I have personally been scoping for over 38 years, and I still really enjoy it. I find it rewarding to be dependable and provide excellent service to my clients, and in a small way, help to keep the wheels of justice turning.
We have snow now in Montana. Because I don’t have to go out in it to get to work, I can enjoy the beauty while sitting by my woodstove with my dogs and bringing in thousands of dollars a year for my family.
I truly have the best of both worlds!
If you are interested in learning more about this work from home opportunity, you can enter in the free 7-day email course on how to become a scopist.
You can also visit the website to see real testimonials from other people who are working as scopists after going through Scope School.
Are you interested in becoming a scopist?
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