SCOPING IS GREAT IF...
Scoping is great if:
a) you enjoy working from home and setting your own schedule
b) have a good mastery of grammar and punctuation
c) can market yourself to keep the amount of work you want coming in,
d) don't mind burning the midnight oil at times to meet a deadline, and
e) don't mind people asking, "You're a what??"
My biggest concern is amount of work. Can you all give me an idea of your average page counts per day?
When you start out your page count is going to be low at first.
To be realistic, think in terms of your first year income in the
$10,000 to $15,000 range. There are a lot of hurdles that a new
scopist has to overcome. One is learning the software and learning
the shortcuts to cut down on your working time. Another is that
reporters who write well usually don't want to work with a new
scopist. So a new scopist gets clients whose writing isn't the best.
It takes time to build a client base.
But I started scoping in 1991. From what I can remember in about
1994 I was doing about 10,000 pages per year. When I was doing daily
copy from 1995 to 1998 and again from 1999 to 2000, I was doing about
200 plus pages per day. I currently scope 30,000 plus pages per year.
Most of my work is scoping without audio, and these
figures are based on scoping without audio. I think the first time I
ever used an audio cassette tape to scope with was around 1997 or '98.
I currently -- when not trying to catch up because of computer
problems -- work 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. I work 6 days
a week. When I started out, I worked 12 to 16 hour days and worked
pretty much 7 days a week.
and if you actively seek work, or are simply using this as a 2nd income, so not concerned about
quantity of work?
I'm not actively seeking work, but still maintain all my ads on
the internet and maintain my web site, and both places still provide
work leads for me on a weekly basis. This is my full-time job and
accounts for 50 percent of my household's income.
Those of you who really push to get alot of work, what do you find is your maximum page count you can handle per day, if the job isn't mostly audio?
In an 8-hour day, I can comfortably do 100 pages easily, even up to
150 pages per day. I have done 280 pages per day, working those
16-hour days. That kind of work just sucks the life out of you,
though. My daily goal is about 125 pages per day.
How many days per week do you work?
As I said, I work 6 days per week now.
Do you see a growing need for scopists?
I see a very definite need for scopists. One is there are a
shortage of court reporters so that the ones who are working have more
work, even if the rates they are paid are a lot lower than 7 or 8
The idea of using a scopist is becoming more popular and court
reporters who haven't used a scopist, ever, are now starting to look
for a scopist.
The increased acceptance of voice writers has increased the need
for the services of transcriptionists. And their technology is now
changing so that they also have computer-aided transcription software.
And even though there are tries to replace court reporters with
electronic recording equipment, courts still need transcripts produced
and scopists can either still work with a stenographic writer to
produce those transcripts or the scopist can transcribe the
Scoping is changing though, and the use of audio has increased.
Scoping without audio is, I think, still the best way to work because
you can earn more per hour. The pages rates for scoping with audio
aren't high enough so that you can earn the same hourly rates scoping
with audio as scoping without audio. And that's based on listening to
all the audio and matching it to the transcript word for word. That's
not based on using audiosynced software to spot check areas, but the
does also slow you down in some cases.
Yes, virtually anyone can become a scopist; however, there are a few very
important factors that have to be kept in mind. You HAVE to have the ability
to punctuate. You HAVE to have the ability to spell. You HAVE to have the
ability to do things the way someone else wants you to, even if you
personally feel they are wrong, unless it's a matter of rules and the
reporter is flat-out wrong, but you have to be able to prove to them beyond a
doubt that they are incorrect - and take it on the chin if they still want it
done their way. You HAVE to be able to go for long dry spells with no work
when you're getting started until you get yourself established. You HAVE to
be able to make it through the dry spells once you are established because
there will be times of famine. You HAVE to be able to keep up when the
reporter is totally stressing, they call you about a job that they absolutely
have to have at 5 o'clock this afternoon and it's already 2 - and it's 100
pages long and you don't know how you're going to make it. You HAVE to be
able to prioritize your life at home to put aside the fun things you want to
do and you have 300 pages sitting waiting for you to get out by the next day.
There are several other "You HAVE to be" scenarios I could come up with, but
I'm sure you get the idea.
If you can meet those above criteria, then you'll make an excellent scopist.
But remember, reporters talk among themselves, too, just like we do. And if
you are not meeting the above criteria, the word will get around. Likewise,
if you DO fill the bill, the reporter will not hesitate to tell others about
what a find they've made in hiring you - and warning others to BACK OFF (lol)
if they ask if you might be available because they want to keep you all to
Hope I haven't scared you off. :) Good luck!!!
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