There are so many opportunities to make money on the side if you just put yourself out there. One of those potential opportunities can be as a “Scopist”.
What does a Scopist do, one might ask?
A Scopist is someone who edits transcripts from the courtroom. A court reporter writes out the legal proceeding in the courtroom and it goes to a Scopist who makes the necessary edits.
Kind of like a proofreader for court stuff.
If you want to be a proofreader outside of the courtroom, there might be tons of opportunities for that as well, refer to this article about Proofreading jobs that will help you a ton in this field.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to be in court to offer your services.
This job doesn’t need you to be physically present in the courtroom, and won’t need you to meet the court reporter either. Everything that you’ll be doing can be done from your home with your computer.
According to salary.com, Scopists can earn up to $57,000/year which is a great revenue stream if are looking for good work-from-home jobs.
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Let’s get to the specifics:
What is scoping?
Scoping is the editing and correcting mistakes in files created by court reporters of depositions, court cases, hearings, other court proceedings, etc.
As a Scopists, you’ll be editing documents written in the files word for word and get the file as close to perfect as possible (with no errors preferably). It then goes back to the reporter to a proofreader for the last read-through before going out to attorneys.
Scoping is a less-known freelance career that is completely location-independent. Whether you want a job that allows you to travel the world or you simply stay at home, Scotpists have the option to work from anywhere they want.
What experience/skill does it require?
Like anything, the more you scope, the better/faster you’ll get. Experience is one of the few benefits of aging!
I have found court reporters to be very accepting of new scopists, provided they are well trained, do a good job, meet their deadlines, and take good care of their clients.
Your training course should be able to teach you all the knowledge and skills you need so that you have the confidence when you begin scoping that you know exactly what you are doing.
The very first job you do should be as good as the fiftieth. ISS does exactly that!
How do you know if you might be a good scopist?
People who are likely to be good at scoping are those who love to read and write, work crossword puzzles, play word games, learn new words, and love language.
Scopists also need to be able to sit at a computer for many hours a day and concentrate. They must be motivated self-starters, organized, conscientious, and client-oriented.
Scopists are ahead of the game if they are good spellers and have a good vocabulary. Since Scopists are paid by the page, the more efficiently we can edit, the more money we can make per hour/day/month/year.
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Can you work from anywhere with a scoping job?
These days, we receive and return files via the internet. So if you have a good internet signal, you can work from almost anywhere for any reporter anywhere.
Years ago, I worked in a park while my kids took swimming lessons; I’ve worked from our camper beside a lake, and I’ve sent and received files while my husband was driving down the interstate.
Compared to being stuck in a stuffy office, running an old mainframe computer, we’ve come a long way, baby!
How do we correspond with the court reporter?
Most communication is done via email and texting. I have worked with reporters for quite a while and have never heard their voices or seen their faces. It can seem kind of weird at first.
However, I used to go to the national convention every year, and I have to say it was a lot of fun to put faces to scopists’ and reporters’ names.
People in this profession are smart, wonderful people. I have made many good friends through the years.
What tools do we need to work as a scopist?
- A good reliable computer (Duh!)
- High-speed internet access
- CAT software upon which you will edit the files: I teach Case CATalyst software
- Reference books (optional): While we used to have expensive/extensive reference libraries, almost anything can now be found online, which has alleviated the need for this expense.
- A great training course: Internet Scoping School There is no substitute for the most thorough, comprehensive program you can get. ISS has two to three times the training material of other online courses, the most experienced instructor, and it is the only course to thoroughly train students in reading steno notes and the intricacies of running the software.
- ISS also offers almost 50 files, written by a dozen different reporters, upon which you can practice editing to the reporter’s preference form. You won’t find a more thorough program anywhere.
What is the salary of a scopist?
As a new graduate, you should work with one reporter for a little while to get your feet wet and get into the scoping “groove.” Once you get a feel for how many pages you can edit per hour/day, start adding clients.
You will need to market your own business, but we have several lessons that will help you learn how to do that.
The school also passes on reporter contacts that we get, and grads often refer clients to each other.
You might only make 20K/year or less starting out, but once you get up to full time, you should be able to make 30-50K per year.
If you get into the high-stress rush work, you can make even more.
What is the course duration?
If a student can dedicate 15-20 hours/week to studying, s/he should be able to complete the training in six months or less. Compare that to a four-year college degree!
There are tons of quizzes with answer keys, as well as final exams on each section.
Students are given a great deal of feedback on exams and asked to look up rules and correct answers. Students are allowed to restudy sections and retake tests if they don’t score at least 85% on exams.
Unlike colleges, the goal of this course is not the grades: It’s the working knowledge and skill that graduates need to make a successful scoping business for themselves.
ISS students are given LIFETIME access to the website and the instructor.
If the training is updated, that material is available FREE to all grads. If new sections are added, they are available at a steep discount. We have a public and a private Facebook page, the latter for students and grads only. We interact, ask questions, give advice, refer work, share experiences, and do our best to see that each person succeeds.
As the instructor, I am available online during working hours Monday through Friday, and I’m usually online on weekends too. It is a point of honor with me that I respond to emails promptly and thoroughly.
I am always available to answer questions, even for experienced grads, and I take a personal interest in the success of every. single. person. If there’s anything I can do to make an ISS grad successful, I do it.
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.
I’ve been scoping since 1980, and I still love what I do. No one has to tell me how blessed I am! Maybe it will be that way for you too!
The best way to see if scoping is something that might interest you, her free scoping mini-course is the right way forward.
And if there are any questions you’d like me to ask her, leave them in the comments below and I will get them answered for you.