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How to Become a Legal Transcriptionist

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Freelancing is becoming a more and more popular option for earning income at home these days, and the career of freelance legal transcription is increasing in popularity at the same time. Legal transcriptionists have really great online jobs, and they are earning excellent income at home too.

How to become a legal transcriptionist is a question a lot of people are asking nowadays as we figure out how to get through 2020 and we look hopefully towards 2021.

This is a high-paying online job but not one you can just walk into without knowing what you’re doing. You definitely need professional legal transcriptionist training before you start looking for legal transcription jobs.

The best legal transcription training out there is the Transcribe Anywhere online course. This course was created by Janet Shaughnessy, who has been earning money online as a legal transcriptionist for many years.

Janet’s course is very comprehensive and one of only two accredited legal transcription training programs in the world. In addition to teaching this course Janet still works as a transcriptionist herself, so she knows exactly what she’s talking about and exactly what you need to know in order to succeed as a legal transcriptionist.

So that you can get a really good understanding of exactly what freelancers in this profession do and whether it might be a good fit for you, I asked Janet some questions about what this field is like and how to become a legal transcriptionist. Here is what she told me.

How to Become a Legal Transcriptionist

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Exactly what does a legal transcriptionist do?

Simply put, a legal transcriptionist takes recorded audio and/or video of legal proceedings and turns them into text documents (transcripts) of the proceeding.

Do most legal transcriptionists work at home, or do they work in a legal office or some other type of office?

Legal transcriptionists work from home. I suppose there are still some that might work in an attorney’s office if legal transcription is only one part of their job description. But the vast majority of us work from home.

What skills does a legal transcriptionist need?

  • Fast and accurate typing
  • Proficiency in English grammar and punctuation
  • Understanding of legal terminology and documentation requirements
  • Mastery of Microsoft Word or other word processing software
  • Mastery of transcription software

What tools or equipment does a legal transcriptionist need?

  • A computer (laptop is fine) with a high-speed internet connection
  • Transcription software
  • Word processing software (preferably Microsoft Word)
  • Headset
  • Foot pedal

What is the average salary for a legal transcriptionist?

The average pay for full-time legal transcriptionists is $65,000 per year. There’s a lot of variance and many prefer to work part-time.

Is legal transcription harder to learn and to do than general transcription?

I don’t know that legal transcription is “harder” than general transcription, but there is more to learn.

Legal transcriptionist training headphones on top of closed laptop with small vase of white flowers

Has coronavirus had any type of positive or negative impact on legal transcription, and if so, what is it?

If anything positive can be said about the pandemic, it’s that it has opened up more opportunities for freelancers. The world is finally catching on that, with the advances in technology, many jobs that were once done in-house can now be done remotely.

Do you know if the number of people becoming legal transcriptionists has been increasing or decreasing at all since the onset of the pandemic?

It had been pretty steady prior to the pandemic. Enrollments in legal transcription training have been on the increase since, and that’s a good thing. I’m contacted on a regular basis from clients looking to hire our graduates.

What type of legal transcriptionist training is there? Do people need professional training? A two-or four-year college degree? On-the-job training?

A college degree isn’t necessary, but training and a legal transcription certification are. Our course takes, on average, about four months to complete. There’s variance in date to completion and certification because our courses are self-paced and students’ schedules are all different.

Do graduates of your program earn a legal transcription certification?

Yes, students who complete our course and pass the final exam receive certification.

Why does your legal transcription course cost more than your general transcription course?

There’s more to learn and more for us to teach. Legal transcriptionists, since they have more specialized training, can demand higher pay rates than general transcriptionists.

Approximately how long does it take for the course to pay for itself with your graduates’ ability to get legal transcription jobs?

Our graduates, almost without exception, are working within a week or two of completing the course. There’s a ton of work for qualified transcriptionists!

Get 40% OFF Janet’s Legal Transcription course during Transcribe Anywhere’s Black Friday through Cyber Monday sale from now through 11:59 p.m. on Monday, November 30, 2020 right here

What kind of after-training support do you offer, if any, for your graduates? Help in getting a job? Help in starting a website?

Our students are lifetime members of Transcribe Anywhere. That includes support via our private Facebook Groups and one-on-one email support. We give our students and grads all of the tools and resources needed to land their first transcription jobs, and that includes a website.

One of Janet’s legal transcription graduates is Katherine Ferranti-Cholich. This is what Katherine told me about the Transcribe Anywhere legal transcription course.

“I’ve taken several online courses and researched many others. Most over-promise and under-deliver to a dramatic degree. But Transcribe Anywhere is a true course – with lessons, practice exercises, feedback rounds, and testing. It has everything you need to be successful as long as you put in the work.

“Janet is transparent that the course and the industry are not quick-fix, fast-income propositions, but if you follow the plan, participate in the community, and do the work, you can be successful. And it’s 100% true.

“Transcription opened the door for me to build a full-service virtual assistant business, and Janet has been a generous mentor throughout the process. I’d recommend this course to anyone who wants to add a steady stream of income working from home.”

How (and why) should someone become a legal transcriptionist?

A person who’s qualified to work as a legal transcriptionist must have an interest in law, be committed to study and practice, and love to work on their own.

As to the “why”, not everyone is cut out to provide legal transcription services. If you can’t answer yes to the three basic criteria mentioned, then you shouldn’t consider legal transcription as a career. Working as a freelancer has many perks and benefits, but it’s not for everyone.

Transcription headphones, computer keyboard and phone lying on desk for legal transcriptionist training

Might it be a good idea to work as both a general transcriptionist and legal transcriptionist, or it is better to focus on one or the other?

The more skills you have, the more potential you have to not only gain more clients but also to earn more income. It also keeps the work varied and interesting. For these reasons, being skilled in both general and legal transcription is the best option.

Do you think the future might be different for legal transcriptionists than for general transcriptionists?

No, I don’t think it’ll be different from one to the other. There’s plenty of work in both fields. We’re a litigious society and I don’t see that changing any time soon, so legal transcriptionists are always going to be needed.

With the amount of content being produced online, general transcriptionists face no shortage of work either.

Do you think it’s better to work as a freelancer when you’re a legal transcriptionist or better to get a part-time or full-time job for one company? Which is more secure financially?

It’s definitely better to work as a freelancer. We can work with attorneys, court reporters, law enforcement, or obtain a variety of work from a larger transcription company.

Legal transcriptionists may work for a larger transcription company, but they’re still freelancers. We prefer to set our own schedules.

Of course, people are free to do as they wish, but there’s no such thing as financial security unless you have marketable skills. When you work with a variety of clients, even if you lose one, you still have others to work with.

Now you know how to become a legal transcriptionist! You can save 40% on Janet’s Legal Transcription course during her Black Friday through Cyber Monday sale from right now through 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, November 30, 2020 right here.

Please leave a comment below and let Janet and I know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns!

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Sabina Lohr

Sabina Lohr is a lifelong freelancer turned entrepreneur and creator of World of Freelancers. She’s always really enjoyed the freedom that freelancing brings, including during several years of working online while traveling and living abroad. Sabina created World of Freelancers to help others learn all about how to work for themselves online so they can enjoy the freelance lifestyle too. She enjoys green tea, red wine and spending time with her family and friends at home and around the world.

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