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Working online sometimes means studying online first in order to learn how to perform your future online job. BeST Scoping Techniques offers an online course in which you can study scoping.
The owners of BeST, Cathy Knox and Judy Rakocinski, were way ahead of the game when they established this online course on March 1, 2002, just as the internet was becoming a thing. Cathy and Judy had both spent years in the legal industry, so transitioning into scoping was natural for them. I interviewed Judy so she can tell you about studying scoping with BeST Scoping Techniques.
Why did you two become scopists?
Cathy became a scopist because she grew tired of the anxiety of the corporate rat race. Commuting back and forth to work was tedious, and she also wanted to be her own boss.
Judy began her scoping career in order to stay home with her three young children. She was looking for a legitimate career that would not only help provide for her family but would be exciting and interesting as well.
What does a scopist do?
A scopist is a vital partner to any successful court reporter. After the reporter has completed the process of writing what was said in the legal proceeding (depositions, arbitrations, hearings and trials), the scopist will then read the transcript word for word.
The scopist will make any corrections of untranslated steno, adding/deleting punctuation where necessary, fixing formatting issues. They will then send back as near a perfect transcript as possible to the reporter. In this way, the scopist greatly reduces the amount of time the reporter will need to spend on the file. And they free up the court reporter to take more jobs and make more money.
What are characteristics and skills that people should have in order to succeed as a scopist?
In order to be a successful scopist, a person needs to be a self-starter and have a firm grasp on punctuation, spelling, and grammar. A true professional will be a great researcher and will take pride in producing a meticulous transcript.
Not everyone is cut out to work from home. You must be able to focus on the job at hand without letting interruptions (kids, laundry, life) take you off your task. This type of career is very flexible, but a scopist must meet the deadlines of the court reporter.
Scoping is much different than similar jobs such as transcription and proofreading. In what ways does scoping differ?
Scoping, unlike transcription, does not require the scopist to type every word that was spoken. The court reporter will translate her raw steno against a dictionary so the scopist receives a text file ready to be edited. The scopist will make punctuation changes and fix untranslated steno or fill in missing or incorrect text.
The proofreader will look to make sure there are no errors that the scopist might have missed and will be another set of eyes on the file to assure the best product possible.
How much money can scopists earn?
A scopist starting out can earn as much as $30,000 a year. A seasoned scopist can make $60,000 and more per year. There are some “scope-aholics” who make six figures yearly.
What else do people need to know about being a scopist?
Scoping is one of the most interesting and fulfilling careers one can have. Clients can come from anywhere in the country, and the subject matter will vary with each job. If a person enjoys court TV or legal dramas, they will love being a scopist. It’s like being a fly on the wall in very interesting, life-changing cases.
Files will vary in the time they need to be returned to the court reporter. The average time is about five days. If jobs need to be back faster, the scopist will charge more per page. An experienced scopist taking jobs with a quick turnaround can easily double their income without doing more pages.
How did you come to start your online course BeST Scoping Techniques?
Trained professional scopists are always in demand. The internet scoping schools that were in existence at the time didn’t cover all the material that needed to be taught to produce qualified scopists worthy of working with the top court reporters in the country. People kept asking us to train them, so BeST was born.
We spent two years building BeST Scoping Techniques from the ground up. We taught ourselves HTML code, and while designing the course itself, we also began building an easy-to-use, cutting-edge website. Because we designed everything ourselves, we can instantly and continuously update the content so our students will always have the most current information. We poured our hearts and souls into the course, and we built the most comprehensive, interactive scopist training program possible.
What do students learn in your BeSt Scoping Techniques courses?
In a nutshell, our students learn everything they could possibly ever need to know to do the job of a scopist to the highest degree of professionalism possible. Students are taught to read steno, which is the “language” court reporters use to take down what is said. Grammar and punctuation rules are covered extensively since this will make or break a scopist’s career.
We cover editing the transcript, medical/legal terminology, how to research effectively, transcript formatting and production, effective cost-free marketing (social media, etc.) and how to run a successful business. The list could go on and on, but that’s a general idea. Our training is extremely comprehensive, and our graduates hit the ground running.
How long does it take to complete your online course?
The program is set up to take about three to four months, although students have a full year to complete the program. Most students finish within that time frame. A person who plans on completing their training within a set period of time is the type of person who will make a great scopist. Time is money in this business, so a “lifetime” in a program most likely will not produce a scopist who makes deadlines a priority.
What have your students said to you about the cost of scoping software programs? Do you find people hesitating to learn scoping because of the software cost?
The cost of software is generally not an issue because the CAT (computer-aided transcription) companies offer low-cost leasing programs that allow the scopist to begin making money right away. The top CAT software companies offer a discount to BeST Scoping Techniques students.
Once people become a scopist, how do they find clients?
The top court reporting firms in the country come to BeST directly for graduates because they know they have been trained to the highest standards. We connect the graduates with the reporters and the partnership blossoms from there. In addition, we promote our graduates 24/7 and teach them how to market themselves without having to spend any money.
BeST Scoping Techniques graduates also have lifetime access to the BeST private job board where they can respond directly to reporters looking to hire them. As part of successful completion of the BeST Scoping Techniques program, our graduates are given a professionally designed web page in which they can advertise their services 24/7.
What do you see as some of the biggest challenges of being a scopist?
The biggest challenge is building a client base that keeps a scopist as busy as he/she wants to be without being so overwhelming that they are scoping nonstop or without work for weeks at a time. Most scopists quickly find a balance that works for them, but it does take time and effort.
You get out of this career what you put into it. This is not a get-rich-quick career, but there is plenty of money to be made if a scopist keeps the clients happy and does the best job possible.
What are the greatest benefits of being a scopist?
The list here is endless. Scoping is one of the very few work-at-home careers that’s legitimate, interesting, and financially lucrative.
Do you offer any professional support or guidance to students who have completed your program?
Our graduates are family. Our support goes with them for a lifetime.
Thank you, Judy for letting people know about BeST Scoping Techniques!
Sabina Lohr is a lifelong freelancer turned entrepreneur who created World of Freelancers to help others discover how to work for themselves online and live the freelance lifestyle. She’s always really enjoyed the freedom that freelancing brings, including several years on and off of working online while traveling and living abroad.