What is a Scopist? A scopist is the person who edits and proofreads steno court reporters’ transcripts. A court reporter who types on a small steno machine types in shorthand that produces a ticket tape paper filled with letters and abbreviations instead of complete words and sentences. To the untrained eye the letters look like someone typed on a typewriter (remember those) full of broken keys. However, a scopist is trained to be able to read the steno language and translate the letters into real words with real meaning. The scopist uses a software program and a computer to translate the steno into words in a timely and efficient manner. Court reporters depend on the scopist to not only know the steno language but also be proficient, dependable, and complete the transcripts in a timely manner.
Court reporters are extremely busy and working with a scopist allows the reporter to turn the complete transcripts to the court, judge, or lawyers quickly. The court depends on these complete transcripts as a written file or reference of the trial procedure, including the deposition, hearings, and the proceedings. Transcripts that are delayed cause problems, extra burdens and stress on the court reporters. Many court reporters can easily become overwhelmed with trials, depositions, and hearings and using a scopist alleviates much of the pressure to turn work in on time. It also allows the court reporter to take on more work, which in turn provides the scopist with more work.
There are a few online programs available that teach one how to become a scopist. The cost of these programs range from $800 to $2000.00. It can take less than three months to complete the entire scoping course and one can begin working shortly after finishing their training by extensively marketing their services to the many court reporters across the country. The necessary software to use in order to scope range in cost but most software programs cost $1000-$1500.00. Leasing and installment plans are available with some of the software programs. The software is easy to learn and comes with a tutorial and updates. Scopist who want to work with a particular court reporter or reporters will need to have the same software equipment that the reporter uses.
Scoping is a great career with many rewards for those looking to have their own home-based business. It is a home business that allows scopists to work entirely from home and set their own rates. Scoping allows the scopist total freedom to decide how much work they take on, when they work, and the ability to choose what court reporters they want to work with. The major benefits of being a scopist are the the flexibility, the ability to work from home, and the choice to work with court reporters all across the country. The work is not location specific, the scopist can take their work with them anywhere. The pay is very good also. Many scopists make $30,000 or more a year full-time but a scopist can work part-time and still make very good money. Plus, there are many deductions for expenses not to mention money saved from going to work everyday. The skills learned are unique and the outlook for scopists is similar to court reporters, positive. There will always be courts in America and there will always be a need for a court reporter, so there will always be a need for a scopist. Verbatim or steno mask court reporters or those who use speech recognition (called voice writers) will also need scopists or proofreaders to edit their work. One more positive note, outsourcing to other countries is not a threat to the scopist.