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Legal Transcription – What to Know in 2020

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Legal transcription is an excellent way to earn money as a freelancer or as an employee in 2020 if you have the right skills to do the job well and enjoy it at the same time. 

Specializing specifically in legal transcription can make you an expert in this niche, and you could see your income grow faster and easier than as a general transcriptionist or as a transcriptionist who does both general and legal.

The field of transcription can change from time to time, so it’s important to know not only how to become a legal transcriptionist in 2020 but exactly what kind of transcriptionist skills you need, what kind of pay you can expect and what kind of transcription equipment you’ll need. 

Transcription tips to work at home or work while traveling as a legal transcriptionist

 

 

Legal Transcription – What You Need to Know in 2020

Here is what you need to know about how to earn money in the field of legal transcription in 2020. 

What is Legal Transcription?

Legal transcription is one of three types of transcription. The other two are general and medical. 

All three types of transcription work are done all over the world except for medical transcription. Medical transcription work is no longer found in the United States, as doctors and hospitals in the U.S. now outsource almost all medical records to be transcribed as cheaply as possible in developing countries. 

Legal transcriptionists listen to audio recordings – usually dictations of legal documents such as letters, motions, summaries, etc. – made by lawyers, paralegals and other legal professionals and type up the audio into written documents. 

You do not need a degree or experience to do legal transcription. Five stacks of silver coins in varying heights representing what you can earn doing legal transcription.

 

Legal Transcriptionist Salary

According to the online transcription course Transcribe Anywhere, legal transcriptionists currently earn an average of approximately $60,000 per year as a legal transcriptionist. 

According to the Transcription Certification Institute, depending on your skills and expertise, you can earn anywhere from approximately $20 to $45 an hour as a legal transcriptionist. 

Legal Transcription Skills

When you’re working at a job like transcription, the faster you can do the work the more money you can earn. This doesn’t mean you should speed through transcripts as quickly as you can at the expense of quality. But it does mean that if you innately possess the knowledge and skills to do the work, it will naturally come pretty easily and quickly to you. 

Typing – Transcription is not a hunt-and-peck kind of job. If you don’t know how to type, you will have to learn how before you become a legal transcriptionist. 

Spelling and punctuation – If you’re not innately good at spelling and punctuation, study them and become good. You will be able to work much more quickly and efficiently and earn more money if you don’t have to frequently stop transcribing to look up spellings and punctuation. 

Language fluency – You will have a much easier time being a legal transcriptionist if you have a completely solid grasp of the language in which you’re transcribing. You’ll also be able to produce higher quality transcripts so that you can develop a good reputation and get all the work you want.

Legal terminology – You really should have a knowledge of legal terminology in the country or countries that you hope to do transcription work for. It’s also useful to have some understanding of that country’s legal system.

Patience – Earning money as a transcriptionist means you will be sitting and listening and typing for long periods of time, so you will need to have the ability to do this. 

 

Law spelled out in Scrabble pieces with other scrable pieces scattered on a wooden table

Legal Transcription Training Programs

You cannot just jump into this job overnight. Legal transcription requires training. Formal training is best. The businesses you’re transcribing for will almost certainly be able to tell if you were professionally trained or not. 

I personally like to know what I’m doing, especially when it comes to work, so I do recommend taking an official legal transcription course before you try to find work as a transcriptionist. Most companies which hire freelance legal transcriptionists as well as employee transcriptionists require that you pass at least one test before you begin with them. A transcription training course is the best way to ensure that you can pass these tests. 

I recommend the Transcribe Anywhere legal transcription training online. This program is one of only two legal transcription training programs that are recommended by the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT). This is a self-paced program which typically takes two to four months to complete. You can learn more about Transcribe Anywhere’s legal transcription online course right here.

The other online transcription program recommended by AAERT is BlueLedge. You can learn more about BlueLedge here.

Legal Transcription Certificate

There is currently no legal transcription certificate offered or necessary for legal transcriptionists. 

Black padded over-ear headphones for legal transcription

Legal Transcription Equipment

Fortunately, you don’t need to invest much in equipment to get started as a legal transcriptionist. In addition to the obvious computer, there are a couple pieces of transcription equipment you will need as well as a few optional tools.

Transcription software – Many transcriptionists simply transcribe in Word. Many other transcriptionists transcribe using Express Scribe Pro, a professional audio play transcription available for both Mac and PC. You can get Express Scribe Pro on Amazon right here.

Transcription headphones – The better you can hear what you are transcribing, the more quickly and easily you can work and the more money you can earn. If you can afford it, high-quality noise-canceling headphones will really help you drown out everything in the background so you can hear, focus and work efficiently. If you need something more affordable, there are a huge number of regular headphones on the market. 

There are so many headphones, in fact, both noise canceling and regular, that it can be confusing and time consuming to try to decide which ones to buy. You can narrow it down and more easily choose the transcription headphones best for you by using this info I compiled about the best headphones for transcriptionists

Foot pedal – This is an optional piece of equipment. Some legal transcriptionists use foot pedals, some do not. Basically 100% of those transcriptionists who do use foot pedals use the Infinity USB foot pedal, which you can get on Amazon right here. 

Text expander – This is also optional, but a text expander can really speed up your typing and save you time. I myself use and highly recommend the TextExpander brand. You can read what I wrote about exactly how TextExpander works here

Grammarly – Also optional, Grammarly is the world’s number one software to help you compose error-free typewritten documents. They have a free version, which you can get right here.

Man wearing headphones working on laptop sitting in yellow stuffed chair behind railing

Legal Transcriptionist Jobs

Now that you know all about how to become a transcriptionist, you will probably want to know where you can find legal transcriptionist jobs. There are a variety of places where you can find work as a legal transcriptionist once you have training. A few of these are:

  • GoTranscript
  • Rev
  • TranscribeMe
  • LinkedIn/Jobs
  • Law firms
  • Corporate legal departments

If you want to learn even more, you can take a free mini-course all about legal transcription right here.

Now you have what you need to know about how to earn money in the field of legal transcription in 2020.

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