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Internet Scoping School – Scopist Training in 2020

(UPDATED SEPTEMBER 20, 2019)

Linda Evenson is the founder of a very successful scopist training course called Internet Scoping School. She freelanced as a scopist full time for 20 years before deciding to teach others how to earn money in this online career.

A scopist is a freelancer who creates final transcripts of trials, depositions and other proceedings which are typed onto a steno machine by a court reporter.

I interviewed Linda to learn all about how her online course teaches people how to earn income as a scopist, and I talked to her again recently about what freelance scopists can expect in 2020 and beyond.

(This post contains affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.)

Internet Scoping School – Scopist Training in 2020

How did your scopist training come into existence?

I started Internet Scoping School (ISS) in 1998 because I saw the need for a thorough training course for scopists.

Having been a scopist myself for 20 years, and having trained new scopists for the agency for whom I worked, I thought I could meet that need. Now that I see graduates getting out there and doing a great job and making money, I am confident I achieved that goal. Being able to share this awesome career with others is very rewarding to me.

Internet Scoping School founder Linda Evenson

Linda Evenson, founder of Internet Scoping School

Scopists work only for court reporters. How does scoping for court reporters differ from jobs like transcription or proofreading?  

Transcribers are given audiotapes of interviews, depositions, and other proceedings. They have to type in every word from the audio, which is very hard on the joints.

When a scopist gets a file from a court reporter, it has been translated into English by a computer, so we read every word. We punctuate, paragraph, decipher untranslated/mistranslated steno notes, listen to the audio where necessary, research spellings, and get the file as close to perfect as possible.

The file then goes to back to the court reporter or on to a proofreader. They actually have the most responsibility because theirs are the last eyes to see the transcript before it is sent to the attorneys. The court reporter and/or proofreader read the transcript carefully, looking for typos or any other errors and correcting them. Then the file is produced to the attorneys and/or the court.

How much money can you earn as a scopist for court reporters?

A brand-new scopist might only make a few thousand dollars the first year. But once the scopist gets some experience and speed and does some marketing, working full time or close to it, a typical yearly income for a scopist is probably $35,000 to $50,000.

There are many variables that enter into this:  how well the court reporter wrote down the testimony; how difficult the subject matter was; how fast the speakers were; how experienced/fast the scopist is; how much listening to audio is required; etc.

There are up-rates for expedited jobs, which are usually considered three-day turnaround or less. The more rush jobs a scopist edits, the higher the pressure to meet tight deadlines, but the more s/he can earn.

Do scopists need any kind of degree or experience?

No degree is necessary. Experience with legal matters or medical terminology can be helpful.  However, if you have no experience but have an aptitude with English, that’s all you really need.  Internet Scoping School teaches you the rest about how to work online as a scopist.

Why is it important that people receive scopist training rather than just buying scoping software and trying to scope from scratch?

Court reporting is a relatively small profession, and if you do a lousy job, word gets around. A bad reputation is not easily overcome.

Two pairs of hands using a laptop and tablet to learn about Internet Scoping School scopist training course

What kind of person makes a good scopist?

The most important thing is to have an aptitude for English; you must be a self-starter; need to work independently and not need a lot of ”hand-holding”; anyone who loves reading, working crosswords, playing word games; someone able to keep confidentiality.

What do you see happening for scopists and the scoping industry in 2020?

I see new innovations in scoping software that are making turn-around time and editing time faster and more accurate. I see fewer court reporters {as more and more court reporters retire}.

The National Court Reporters Association is spending a fair chunk of its budget to entice more students into the scoping profession, so I see court reporters turning more and more to scopists to meet their deadlines.

I see voice writers and recording systems being used to record some proceedings, and I see scopists needing to accommodate these {methods of recording proceedings} as well, since there aren’t enough court reporters to go around. While I see scoping undergoing some changes, I don’t see it becoming obsolete at all.

How long does it take to complete the Internet Scoping School scopist training course?

If a student can dedicate 15 to 20 hours a week to studying, the course can be completed in six months or less. Compared to getting a four-year degree at a college that is often useless, becoming a scopist doesn’t take long, is a fraction of the cost, and often yields a better salary than a four-year degree. That’s what I call a win-win!

Scoping is a growing job field where you are your own boss and work wherever you want

Once your students have completed their scopist training, how do they find clients, and do you help with that?

Internet Scoping School teaches students how to market themselves, and the school also passes on contacts we get from court reporters looking for professional scopists. Especially with everyone working online these days, court reporters are pretty easy to find. There are also some job boards where reporters post “ads” for scopists. It’s a great time to get into this type of online career!

What are some of the biggest challenges of scoping for court reporters?

Being able to motivate yourself to finish the work on time; isolation; keeping one’s concentration up; keeping up with new technologies; “protecting” your work time from interruptions.

Scopists need to listen to the audio files that accompany written transcripts in court cases. How do you and other scopists handle listening to the audio, and concentrating in general, when there are noise and other distractions?

When you listen to the audio, you wear headphones, and they tend to kind of cover up other noises. The more you scope, the more you learn to concentrate on what you’re reading and ignore distractions.

Laptop, headphones and phone used by scopists for court reporters

 

Do you find that many of your graduates have enough work to support themselves, or is scoping for court reporters more of a part-time job?

I think most ISS grads do scoping pretty much full time, although some want to scope part time.  Retirees enjoy this job because it helps them supplement their Social Security and savings. Some people want to keep their jobs but supplement their income. Scoping is flexible enough to go either way.

What advice do you have for people who are considering learning how to earn income as a scopist?

Ask yourself, did you do well with English in school? And since school? Take our free seven-day email series that tells you more about scoping. You can read about it and sign up right here.

We have a public Facebook page called Internet Scoping School which you can find here, where folks interested in scoping, as well as students and grads, hang out and get to know each other. If you think you might be interested in this awesome work-from-home career, ask to join and I’ll add you.

What are some advantages of becoming a scopist?

Being your own boss and having more control over your time; working from home; being able to live in a rural area or somewhere where wages are low and still making a decent living; perfect career for “wordophiles.”

You worked as a freelance scopist for decades before founding Internet Scoping School. Do you still do scoping work?

I do, although I consider myself semi-retired. I stay pretty busy running the scopist school, so I only scope part time. I have always really enjoyed my job, so I don’t want to quit. I also want to stay current with new innovations in the profession, and continuing to do scoping for court reporters is the best way to do that.

Most – or possibly all – scopists are freelancers. What are some pros and cons of working as a freelancer online rather than as an employee?

I’ve been working from home now for over 30 years, and I wouldn’t trade it for a million-dollar salary working in an office! I don’t have to maintain a professional wardrobe, fight inclement weather or traffic. I receive/return my work online, and I even get paid by an internet service. I sit here by the fire with my five dogs for company (and I like them better than some people!), I can take breaks when I like — or even take a nap! — I am my own boss, and as long as I make sure my court reporters are covered, I can take off time when I wish.

And on top of that, without ever leaving home, I can bring in thousands of dollars a year for my family. I’ve always known I have the best of both worlds working online as a scopist.

On the other hand, working from home alone can be isolating, so ISS has a Facebook group where students/grads can visit with their peers, share experiences, ask for advice, and even refer work to each other. There are many court reporter/scopist sites online as well where one can socialize.

Scoping is location-independent work, meaning scopists can work anywhere they want. Do you know where graduates of Internet Scoping School tend to do their work?  At home? In coffee shops? While traveling?

Most graduates work from home, but I have trained several people whose “home” is overseas, especially military spouses.

I have also trained some folks who want to do a lot of traveling while still making an income. As long as they have a good internet signal, they can work from anywhere. And if someone wants to get out around people, an internet café is a viable choice.  Have laptop, will travel!

Scoping for court reporters will continue to be a great way to earn money online as a freelancer in 2020 and beyond. Sign up for Linda’s Internet Scoping School FREE mini-course right here.

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Internet Scoping School scopist training in 2020

Image by Olena Sergienko

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