Scoping is a little known job but unmistakably a high in-demand position online. Whether you are a full-time mom or a college student, you can take advantage of this opportunity to earn extra money during your free time.
Everything can be done from home and some scoping jobs pay up to $50,000 a year. Thanks to these Internet age home-based jobs, anyone can earn money while working remotely from anywhere. On scoping jobs that require a quick turnaround time (less than 3 days) can earn more than double, up to $500/day.
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What is Scoping?
A scoptist is a person who transcribes steno notes for court reporters. Steno notes are the “shorthand” form of transcription court reporters use to record court conversation.
You may recall there’s a person typing spoken speech at the speed of light in court on a little typewriter machine. They go by many names but they’re typically called court stenotypists, court stenographer, court reporter, or stenotype operators.
In a typical work day, court reporters would put on record everything that the parties in a court trial would say using their steno machine. A scoptist is a person who takes those court reporter’s short hands and turns them back into full form words for regular people to read.
The short handwriting is a writing technique that uses symbols instead of words so court reporters can catch up with the exchange of conversations during a court trial.
Before these steno notes are given to attorneys, they are translated into English to become more legible. This is where your work as a scoptist comes in. Besides transcribing the steno notes into a clean transcript, you will also edit them in a way that the entire text would make sense.
After doing your job, you will return the translated document to the court reporter or a proofreader for a final check then it goes to the attorneys.
Education & Training to Become a Scoptist (Free to Paid)
In most cases, Scopist only
There is no specific training required to become a scoptist but it’s not something you should stumble into blindly. There are training courses available to teach you all the knowledge and skills you need.
If you’re new to this, there are many ways to learn how to understand short handwriting.
Here are some free scoping course options available:
- Join free training online mini-course at The Internet Scoping School (ISS) – Free scoping tutorials will help you learn the basics and have an idea on how to get started with the job. Scoping School (ISS) will teach you everything you need to know about scoping and how to do it. For full-time students enrolled in ISS’s official course, Linda (ISS creator) will work alongside you to see you succeed. All training materials are updated and forever available to scoping school grads. There is a private ISS Facebook group available to all students and grads. Within the ISS course, you can get experience, work references, socialize, and keep up to date.
- Enrolling in a secretarial course in college – A normal secretarial course in college normally offers a structured training where you can learn how to write and understand short handwriting for 26 weeks. The course only takes 1 to 2 hours per day but if you have something else taking up your time, you will need more than 26 weeks. That’s about 6 months in duration compare that to a 4-year university degree!
- Watch training on YouTube – A popular online training for short handwriting on YouTube is Pitman’s Short Hand Free Online Course. All you need is an internet connection and a comfortable space at home. The course only takes 30 days to finish and will require you to spend at least 30 minutes a day.
- Self-read short hand writing books – Invest in some really good books about short hand writing, which you can read during your free time. NSS Books do have a good list of books that you can follow.
- Self-practice scoping using downloadable short hand writing tools online – Another site, TrainerBubble, will give you free training scoping documents where you can practice scoping. This site also offers Accredited CPD Certificates which you can add to your CV and make it more attractive for clients.
Additionally, a background in law, communications, machine shorthand, and medical reporting will increase your chance of getting hired as a scoptist, even without prior work experience.
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In order to begin working, you may need computer-aided transcription software (CAT). This type of software will help you transcribe a court transcript into English more accurately than relying solely on manual transcription. It doesn’t only make your job faster but it improves the accuracy of your work.
When it comes to deciding on what software to use, there are a few options you can choose from. But the two widely used softwares are the Case CATalyst and Eclipse.
Some experienced scopists would use the two softwares simultaneously to finish two jobs at one time. However, if you are new to the scoping world, you would want to start with single software first before doubling it up.
Other scoping equipment that you will need includes a reliable internet connection, a good set of professional headphones, and a computer.
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Expected Earnings as a Scoptist
Working as a scoptist allows you to earn as much as $3,500 to $4,000 a month. Doing the math, your ideal yearly income can reach up to $30,000 to $50,000. But as a newbie in the block, you might want to get into the groove slowly by working with only one reporter.
A newbie can work a couple of days in a week and earn as much as $1,000 per month. Once you build your reputation, you can slowly add more clients and market yourself as a professional scoptist.
For those who are good at/enjoy working with words and want to own their own business and work from home, scoping is the perfect career choice.
Skills Needed as a Scoptist
To become a scoptist you must have a good affinity for punctuation, grammar, spelling, and paragraphing.
Of course you can improve these skills by reading grammar books and joining online tutorials. The following are additional skills that you would need to become a scoptist.
- Mental toughness – You will need to have a strong mind to withstand cases with extremely sensitive topics like murder or rape. If you have
passionfor shows like CSI or Criminal Minds, then this job would most likely work for you!
- Ability to handle last-minute demands – This means putting every else on hold as you prioritize a deadline and maintaining quality even when you’re under pressure.
- Self-discipline – This also includes the ability to manage your time wisely, communicate with the client, and follow an agreed schedule.
- Ability to work alone – Unlike in the office setting, you will be more likely to work alone in this type of job. So you need to have a strong focus even though you will be mostly isolated to ensure that the transcript are scoped to the best of your ability.
- Familiarity with legal terms –Since you’re working in the legal world, it helps to know some legal terms and rules in a court trial. This will help you understand the entire transcript and come up with a sensible output.
Pros and Cons of Scoping
You will find the most challenging part of working as a scoptist when you’re still starting. Of course, it may take a while to build your speed and clientele.
So here’s a tip… Start with small steps. First, fix your curriculum vitae and submit to clients. Since you are a newbie, you can offer a smaller rate and promise to finish it on time to easily get a client.
Don’t be discouraged if you’re application is dropped twice or more. The key is to simply work at it and soon you will be making some pretty decent money.
The best thing about working as a scoptist is the freedom to work anywhere. So let this be your motivation. In fact you can do your job from the lake or on the road, so long as you have internet connection.
Another great thing about scoping is it is very flexible. You can use it to earn additional income, supplement another job, or go full steam ahead and make more money. For full-time moms, this is a great opportunity to earn additional income while taking care of your baby.
You may be able to work from home but it doesn’t mean you can command 100% of your schedule. You are working closely with court reporters so familiarize yourself with how they shorthand.
The work can get lonely. Scoptists work from home alone and they can work alongside a specific reporter for years without knowing anything about them.
A friendly warning – some scoping jobs are fairly demanding. Most jobs are due in three days or less, or on the same day. But don’t let this bring you down. Clients who demand speed and tight deadlines are usually willing to pay a significantly higher rate. So don’t bypass this opportunity to earn more and build a reputation.
Find Scoping Jobs
Nowadays, there are many ways to look for scoping jobs and some of them are really easy. Besides marketing yourself through your Facebook account, here are some great freelancing websites where you can find great scoping jobs.
Indeed is a popular job search engine with an overwhelming list of scoping jobs. Here you can apply for both part-time and full-time scoping job, depending on your desired company.
LinkedIn is primarily a social networking site for professionals. What makes it unique is the chance for users to create a resume-based profile and be known to potential clients.
Glassdoor is another useful job search engine where you can find some scoping jobs. Here you can also find reviews from various employees about a particular company so you will have an idea of the world you’re getting in before you even apply.
Dice is a major hot spot for STEM jobs but it occasionally offers scoping jobs under the technical category. It also gives tips and advices for first time freelancers on how to easily land a job in their chosen field.
Mediabistro is geared towards applicants who are experts in communication but it occasionally offers jobs for scoptists. What makes it unique is its career services that allows applicants to connect with career coaching experts who help edit resumes and create attractive LinkedIn profiles.
Google for Jobs is catch-all search engine for all scoping jobs from popular freelancing sites and other job search engines. The key is to enter the right keyword in the search and you will be taken to a running list of job offers for scoping.
Although no longer a top job search engine, Monster is still a great place to look for scoping jobs. Here you can upload your resume and get as many jobs as you want without letting your current boss know how many jobs you’re handling at one time.
Just as the name says, CareerBuilder matches users to a specific job based on keywords from their resumes. It has a unique feature called Hire Insider, which will give you an idea on how it stacks up to other applicants.
JobisJob is another job search engine that lets you browse job opportunities according to categories. Currently, it offers more than 91,000 legal jobs that include scoping.
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This article was so thorough and awesome! I had no idea what a scoptist was until I read this post. I have to type of transcripts for my prof sometimes and it’s sooo boring so I don’t think I could ever do this!
P.S. I googled “scoptist” and this post was the first hit 😉
Lily H. says
There’s interesting criminal cases sometimes I hear – if you’re into CSI stuff haha.
Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early says
Love the cons list as well as the pros, but it seems like for a work from home job for someone without a specific set of skills this could be a really good deal.
Lily H. says
It’s a really good job for moms with multiple kids because not everyone gets a chance to go to college or even finish it. Another side hustle, being a notary is even better IMO, especially in California.
The “Self Practice Scoping” link to TrainerBubble is actually another use of the word ‘scoping’, just so you’re aware… sorry! I checked it out and it’s more for a business setting the scope of what they’re planning to do as they start out.
Other than that, I really appreciate this article 🙂
Just a heads up about a couple of typos.
Scoptist should actually be spelled scopist.
And in this sentence: “Don’t be discouraged if you’re application is dropped twice or more,” you’re should have been “your.”
Happens to the best of us. 😉