If you have a good ear and can pay attention to detail, you may be qualified for an entry-level job as a legal transcriptionist. These individuals listen to dictated or recorded legal proceedings and record them word-for-word into electronic or hard-copy files. While entry-level jobs may require little training, there is potential for career growth for those willing to put in some effort.
A legal transcriptionist listens to recordings of courtroom or other legal proceedings and transforms the full text of the recording into an electronic or hard-copy document. These documents must be word-for-word and error free. Legal transcriptionists may be employed by law firms or by outside transcription services. Their work is usually done away from the courtroom.
Training and Education
While not necessarily required, there are training programs to become a legal transcriptionist, usually offered through community colleges and technical schools. These programs might provide an advantage when looking for an entry-level job since they provide an overview of legal concepts and court proceedings, as well as an introduction to legal terminology and basic practices for transcription.
Legal transcription jobs may not require much formal training, but they do require specific skills. To do their job accurately, transcriptionists need a strong command of the English language as well as good grammar and punctuation skills. They need to be detail-oriented and efficient. Transcriptionists may also need to know how to use specific software applications and should be comfortable on the computer and able to type quickly and accurately.
An entry-level legal transcription job could provide a good foundation for a career in court reporting or as a legal assistant. Both of these occupations typically require some post-secondary education, such as completion of a certification program or an associate degree. Licensing is required by most states for court reporting. The experience gained through a legal transcription job could not only provide a head start on these careers, but may be valued by other potential employers as well.
Salary and Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not offer salary details for legal transcriptionists. However, the higher career rung of court reporter, as of 2010, paid an average of $47,700 per year. The occupation of court reporter is expected to grow by 14 percent through 2020 -- the average for all occupations.
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