A legal transcriptionist listens to audio recordings and creates written records of them. Government agencies, corporate legal departments, and law firms are among the parties needing transcription services. With millions of legal proceedings across the nation each year and many courts reporting case backlogs, there is a positive job outlook for legal transcriptionists.
Convenience is a primary draw of legal transcription jobs. You can work from home, choose to work part-time or full-time, and set your own hours. For many women, this flexibility also translates into savings since they can reduce childcare, travel, and wardrobe expenses that are incurred when they work in a traditional office setting.
Home-based legal transcriptionists can also choose their level of independence. Those preferring the structure most like a traditional job work remotely as employees of transcription companies. They do not have to bother with tasks such as creating invoices or remitting their income taxes, and they know when they'll get their paychecks. Others, who are willing to take on additional organizational tasks, work as sub-contractors for transcription companies, or they opt for full independence and build their own client base.
Some legal transcription jobs may be available with just a high school diploma, and you may find some positions offering on-the-job training. Other jobs look for transcriptionists who are certified. Legal transcription programs are offered online and at trade schools and community colleges. The programs cover relevant information such legal terminology and court processes to help develop transcription skills. The length of the programs vary from several months to a couple years. Upon completion students will receive a certificate, which can increase marketability. Some programs may offer other benefits such as job placement assistance, internship opportunities, and career counseling.
To be a successful legal transcriptionist, you need to be able to type fast and accurately. Some jobs only consider transcriptions who can type a certain number of words per minute. Time and speed have a major impact on your income. Good listening skills are also important. The longer you spend trying to decipher what is being said, the longer it will take you to complete an assignment. You also need good grammar and spelling skills. Legal transcriptionists do a lot of editing.
Preparing for Work
Since you plan to work from home, you need a reliable computer and internet access. Tapes are rarely distributed anymore. Most audio files are digital and the reports you create will likely be transmitted electronically. You may also need to get transcription software. Although it's not required, many legal transcriptionists also find it helpful to have a headset and both a dictionary and legal dictionary handy.
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