Guest post from Amber of ALM Transcription LLC
There are quite a few options to earn money from home as a transcriber these days, but legal transcription is one field that won’t be going away anytime soon.
Compared to medical transcription where you must take a long, expensive certification program, general transcription which pays less, and braille transcription where you need to learn to read and type braille (you can take the course for free), legal transcription is the field of choice for many.
Here are a few things to take into consideration if you are thinking of a career or earning extra money through legal transcription.
While you don’t need a formal education in legal transcribing, you do need to be familiar with transcripts, depositions, and the parts of hearings and trials. Having knowledge of legal terms will be extremely helpful and being able to follow formatting directions is imperative — a difference from general transcription where you are just typing in paragraphs for the most part.
There are online courses that can help you learn the ins and outs of legal transcription. You’ll also want to get your typing up to par in order to earn as much money as possible (you are paid per page, so the faster you complete the work, the more you earn.)
The best part about being a legal transcriber is that you can set your own hours and work from home. The reality though is that attorneys and court reporters are notorious for not sending work until the last minute, or ordering overnight work because a deposition took place the day before the hearing is scheduled.
The good news is that you earn more money by doing transcripts that are due faster, for instance a normal transcript might pay $1.50 per page if it is due in 7 days and over $5 per page if it is due the next morning. The bad news is that you are going to miss some sleep if you want to take that assignment.
Being able to adjust your schedule as work comes in is important.
Most legal transcribers work for multiple court reporters and agencies in order to get work consistently. Getting in with just one court reporter and doing excellent work for them will usually get your name out as someone that is reliable.
Agencies tend to have tests that you must complete before being considered, these are usually hard audios where the sound quality is poor or there are speakers with hard-to-understand-accents that must be transcribed perfectly. It is extremely important to follow all directions on these tests, especially the formatting.
Other companies also use legal transcribers — like insurance companies that record claim interviews and police departments that record suspect interviews. With the skills of a legal transcriber, you can also pick up general transcription work on the side.
Unlike general transcription where you might be typing up an interview, training session, or meeting, legal transcription generally tends to deal with someone’s actual life problems. This could be anything from a divorce and custody issues, to a police brutality case, or even a murder witnessed by someone.
Being able to listen to graphic descriptions of violence, hearing someone that you believe is lying get away with it, and often times not knowing the outcome of the case because you only got part of the audio can be frustrating. There are very few dull moments as a transcriber though, and since you are at home you can yell or roll your eyes, unlike the court reporter that had to listen to everything in person!
Working as a legal transcriber is fulfilling work and will essentially always be needed. Everyday our courthouses are filled with attorneys, and individuals like yourself filing for divorce and other issues.
With court reporters switching over to digital recordings there will be more need for legal transcribers than ever, so it’s a great time to get started — especially if you’d like to make money working from home!
Amber Reynolds is a stay-at-home mom that has built a career as a legal transcriber. She now helps train the team for ALM Transcription LLC.
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