When we mention remote jobs, most of us may think of tech gigs, blogging and technical writing, or virtual customer service. But, besides these popular careers, there are many lesser-known remote jobs with high-paying salaries and great career longevity. In this article, we'll introduce scoping, a remote career that you've likely never heard of.
Scopists are the unseen and unheard professionals who work behind the scenes in a courtroom. They produce final, polished transcripts of legal testimony that court reporters take down on using their stenography machines.
Scoping remote jobs are gaining popularity as a great career option, especially post-pandemic when so many people are looking for work from home opportunities. The best part is that you can learn scoping in a matter of a few months. The career not only allows you to work from anywhere; it also offers new valuable skills to help you scale your career.
So, if you're fascinated by this career and want to know more about it, you're at the right place. This post will explain exactly what scoping is, its job responsibilities, salary, and long term career outlook. Also listed are some recommended courses for training to become a talented scopist.
What is Scoping?
Scoping is the act of editing transcripts for court reporters. These reporters type the transcript or proceedings on stenography machines. Using CAT (computer-aided transcription), they translate the transcript into a readable English format.
For further editing, court reporters hire scopists to save themselves time. Scopists mainly fill in missing words, add or correct punctuation, and research spellings. They are also efficient at reading steno notes and using CAT software programs, in addition to being proficient at putting together and formatting a transcript.
The role of a scopist is very important because they ensure that the transcript is properly edited to reflect exactly what was said during proceedings.
Scoping Vs. Proofreading
Most people often confuse scoping with proofreading. But, they are different, and proofreading takes place after the transcript has been edited.
Proofreaders go through an already edited text to find and fix any mistakes that slipped through the cracks. On the other hand, scopists work right after the transcription of steno notes into English and fix large mistakes such as formatting and spelling. Scoping is the first step to make a legal transcription more legible, accurate, and understandable.
Why Scoping is a Great Remote Job
When you want to work from home, you're likely seeking flexibility, a better work-life balance, and a reasonable salary. Many scoping remote jobs pay incredibly well and have flexible hours, so you can set your own schedule.
Here are some of the top benefits of a scopist's career:
In most cases, you can work from anywhere you want – from your home, a cafe, a co-working space, and even on vacation.
The first thing you need is a desktop or laptop outfitted with scoping software. The software may seem expensive, but it's tax-deductible (if you're a freelancer) or can be provided by your employer.
In addition, you need a fast and reliable internet connection to receive and deliver your orders. You'll want to invest in a headset to privately listen to audio files you receive from court reporters.
The money you make by working as a scopist depends on whether you work full-time or on an hourly basis.
On average, you can get up to $1.30 per page for a standard, entry-level position. A well-trained scopist makes up to $30,000 right after the training, while experienced professionals can make $60,000+ a year.
No Specific Degree Requirements
Unlike many other professions with similar perks, scoping doesn’t need an expensive and complex degree. It only needs training that costs a mere fraction of the single year cost of studying at a traditional college.
It takes about 6-8 months to learn scoping and start your career. Since there's very little competition and good demand, the money invested is repaid very quickly after the career has begun.
A Plethora of Career Opportunities
With growing volumes and types of cases processed through the court system in the UK and abroad, court reporters are getting busier. In the past, court reporters had enough time to edit their own transcripts and complete their own scoping duties. Today, with an increased workload, court reporters are seeking help from professional scopists.
As mentioned above, there is a high demand for experienced and talented scopists. The industry is competitive, but under-saturated, so companies and individuals are consistently looking for new hires.
If you manage to establish your credibility in this competitive sector and find court reporters or companies that are hiring, you’ll be able to increase your earning potential.
Why is scoping not more well-known?
The earning and growth potential of a scopist is just as high as that of many other careers. You can often work from anywhere while earning just as much as someone in a normal office job.
Put simply, scoping is an attractive remote job. So, why haven’t you heard of it?
As there aren’t many people working as scopists, it’s a lesser-known profession. However, this career has been in existence since the 1980s. Court reporters are visible as they work, while scopists specialise in work behind the scenes.
Scopists can work on a freelance basis for multiple clients, or through a company that finds and assigns clients to each scopist.
Since demand is high in this field, you are likely to be hired, by a company or as a freelancer, very soon after you've completed your training.
Are you a good fit to become a scopist?
If you are a self-starter with a passion for important, intelligent work, scoping can be a rewarding career.
You can become a scopist if you:
- Enjoy reading, editing, and proofreading
- Understand basic writing principles
- Are dependable, task-oriented, and self-motivated
- Can meet strict deadlines
- Are tech-savvy and comfortable using a computer
- Are interested in law or criminal justice careers
What is a typical scoping salary like?
Most scopists get paid by the page. In this case, your hourly rate depends on your speed and the difficulty of the task.
According to Salary.com, scopists typically earn between $13 and $27 per hour. The median salary for a full-time scopist is $38,927, and this can increase up to $56,000.
By working remotely from your home or anywhere else, you can save money by cutting out a daily commute and get access to jobs from across the globe. Once you get the proper training, develop your skills, and gain experience, you can earn up to $45 per hour at a scoping remote job.
How to Become a Scopist?
Check out a few of the different steps you can take to become a proficient scopist:
Step 1: Earn a Degree
As mentioned above, you don’t need a specific or expensive degree to become a scopist. You can pursue any degree you want.
However, if you want to land a scoping job with higher pay, it’s advised that you earn a bachelor degree. The recommended subjects are English, Political Science, Journalism, Arts/Mass Communication, and/or Developmental Communication.
Step 2: Intern Under a Professional Scopist or a Court Report
Court reporters hire scopists, but many of them are already trained in the field themselves.
Both court reporters and professional scopists know how to use court reporting software. They are familiar with all dos and don’ts of scoping.
So, working with either a court reporter or scopist as an intern is a great learning opportunity. This step is optional but is useful for those who want to enter the field with more hands-on and practical experiences. You can benefit greatly from a professional's practical knowledge and industry experience.
Step 3: Enrol in a Scopist Training Program
Many educational institutes provide specialised training in this area. You must choose a comprehensive program to gain in-depth knowledge of the court system in your country and the skills it takes to become a successful scopist. While traditional brick-and-mortar institutes offer these programs, you can also find some options online. With online courses, you can choose to learn at your pace and convenience.
Step 4: Practice, practice, practice
While professional training is important to kick-start your scoping career, it’s a great idea to continue your training on a personal level. With continued training, you can polish your skills and eventually become a master scopist. Spend time trying to improve your accuracy and speed, which will make you a more attractive candidate as you look for jobs. Although you should note that self-training is important, it doesn't replace formal training.
Best Places/Programmes to Learn Scoping
Scopists should receive an education to earn credibility and success in the industry. You generally pursue certification or a diploma in scoping. You can pursue your training from a dedicated scoping school. Several institutes offer both hands-on and online training.
Coursework in most scopist programmes often include the following:
- Law and legal terminology
- Reporting technology
- Machine shorthand
- Reporting communications
- Medical reporting
- Real-time reporting
Some of the most popular schools or programs are listed below:
Cathy Knox and Judy Rakocinski present this self-paced online scopist training program. With this program, you'll learn the skills required to become a successful scopist.
Both Knox and Rakocinski have 40+ years of experience working as a scopist.
The BeST Scoping Techniques provide training on multiple scoping software programs. It also facilitates online networking groups and lifetime access to coursework and trainers.
ISS is one of the most effective and thorough scoping training programs available. You’ll learn to do more than simply editing transcripts for court reporters.
The program also teaches how to establish a successful scoping business from scratch. With this course, you'll also get lifetime access to support and content updates. If you have a busy schedule, this course is perfect as it is an entirely self-paced learning programme.
Linda Evenson, a seasoned scopist with more than 35 years of experience, teaches scoping at this platform. She has been teaching scoping since 1999 and has continuously produced successful, competent scopists.
ASE educates editors and scopists in all aspects of producing highly accurate proceeding records. Devon Roberts, who graduated from Iowa State University, owns this platform.
This comprehensive scoping programme has 30 recorded classes designed by the experts. The entire course has been arranged in three steps:
Step 1: Editing
In this module, you will learn the following:
- Basic grammar review
- Punctuation and editing
- Soundalike words/homonyms
- Formatting documents & terminology
- Practice documents editing
- Contextual reading
Step 2: Stenographer Training
- Learning the basics of stenography
- Understanding stenography notes
Step 3: The Art of Scoping
- Detailed formatting and punctuation of transcripts
- Knowledge of file transfer
- CAT Software Training
- Practice files in the CAT program
You’ll get an opportunity for one-to-one interaction with Devon and the ability to receive and share feedback with peers.
Tips for Scopists to Win Clients or Jobs
There are some proven tips scopists should follow to succeed in their career:
Research Online to Land Good Jobs/Clients
While pursuing your formal education in scoping, you’ll learn how to land a good job or find profitable clients. Today, the internet has made it quite easy to connect with court reporters online. There are many reputable court reporting websites where you can find a multitude of court reporters.
Similarly, many scopist websites regularly post ads and many job portals online also post openings for reporters and scopists.
Don't Take On Clients Before Completing Your Training
Once you’ve established yourself as a reputed and credible scopist, you'll attract clients and continue growing in your career. If you try to complete a project before you are properly trained, you are likely to not do a good job, which may reflect poorly on your career.
Don’t rush to grab opportunities before you’re fully trained. Otherwise, you may hamper your reputation and make it more difficult to find jobs when you are more skilled.
What are some challenges you may face as a scopist?
Like every other professional, a scopist's job comes with its unique set of challenges. When you work from home, there are usually distractions from children, family members, or housemates. You may even run into issues where your environment is loud due to external factors like construction or noisy neighbours. Having a quiet workspace is important for focus and to ensure that you are hearing any recordings clearly.
To help prevent distractions, try to set up a home office that is away from others and set boundaries with family and housemates about not interrupting you when you are working. If necessary, you can also invest in soundproofing for your windows or to place in the space below your doors.
As a result of working from home, you may find yourself missing the social aspects of a normal 9-to-5. You can stave off any feelings of loneliness or seclusion by choosing to occasionally work from a co-working or shared office or at a cafe, library, or park. A change of scenery is often necessary for remote workers to ensure that they have the chance to interact with others, even as they work a non-traditional job.
Managing your schedule as a remote worker is also sometimes difficult, especially if you are not used to an autonomous working environment. You can prevent missed deadlines and scheduling issues by creating and following a daily, weekly, or bi-weekly schedule. Since you are often able to decide when and how you work, ensure that you leave plenty of time in your day for breaks, spending time with family, and relaxation.
Are you a newly-trained scopist?
- Network and connect with court reporters, scopists, and other relevant professionals online.
- When communicating professionally, be mindful that anyone is potentially a future client. Watch your written communication for typos or grammatical errors, as they may indicate to a potential client that you are not detail-oriented.
- Join your local, state, or national reporting associations.
- Avoid overworking to ensure that the level of work you deliver is always at its highest capacity.
If you are interested in scoping, but want to explore careers that have related job skills, consider the following:
A transcriptionist, much like a scopist, is responsible for turning oral communication into written documents. If the idea of scoping training is too complicated for you, you can instead consider starting a career in transcription, which requires less training and specialised knowledge.
If you’re multilingual, you can consider a career as a translator. You can train and certify as an oral translator or, much like a scopist, translate written documents. You should be detail-oriented, able to work autonomously, and have excellent communication skills.
A virtual assistant is essentially a remote administrative professional that completes traditional administrative tasks for a client, such as responding to emails, handling scheduling, and taking phone calls. Scopists and virtual assistants share skills such as organisation, time management, problem-solving, and the ability to work under pressure.
You can find employment in various sectors for all these related careers, like government agencies, universities and colleges, publishing houses, global forums, private businesses, and international trade organisations.
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