Scopists are freelancers who work on court cases behind the scenes. They trancribe the legal…
World of Freelancers contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you.
Before beginning any new career, it is important to have a solid grasp of your earning potential. Freelance scopists are self employed, so their income usually varies quite a bit from month to month and from year to year. Once you learn how to become a scopist, you can make very good money.
Here is a detailed breakdown of approximately how much you can expect to earn as a scopist.
How Much Can I Earn as a Scopist?
Freelance scopists set their own rates based on a framework of typical rates charged in the industry. They are paid for each page they scope. Scopists’ pay varies from transcript to transcript and from scopist to scopist. They are not required to produce a certain amount of pages per hour or per day. The number of pages they complete depends on them.
The rate that scopists charge per page depends primarily on the turnaround time of the transcript. Most transcripts have a regular delivery time of five days. If a court reporter needs the transcript faster, the scopist charges a higher per page rate.
The speed at which a scopist can scope determines how much money they will earn. Scoping, though, is not about speed. It is about accuracy. Legal documents are very important and must be accurate. A combination of accuracy and speed is what scopists need to succeed. Accuracy so that transcripts they produce will be of the highest quality and earn repeat clients. Speed so that they can produce a high-enough volume of pages to earn a healthy income.
6 FACTORS INVOLVED IN A SCOPIST’S SALARY
The speed at which scopists can scope a transcript depends primarily on these six factors.
1. The scopist’s experience with scoping (is this one of their first transcripts, or have they been scoping for years?)
2. The initial condition of the transcript (does it have a lot of untranslated and dropped words, or is it very clean?)
3. The clarity of the audio (was it recorded with a quality microphone at a level easy to hear, or is the quality poor and the volume too low?)
4. The difficulty of the testimony (is this a plaintiff testifying in a simple fender bender case, or is this a neurosurgeon using unfamiliar and difficult medical terminology in a malpractice case?)
5. The attorneys and witnesses (are they speaking clearly and at a normal pace, or are they mumbling, talking fast, talking over each each, or speaking with thick accents?)
6. Word density (is each question and each answer very short, taking up only half a line or are each question and answer long, filling each line of each page?
HOW MUCH CAN A SCOPIST EARN PER HOUR?
Scopists are paid per page and not per hour, but calculating pay per page is not a concept familiar to most people. Calculating pay per hour is more understandable. So here is the pay you can expect to earn on an hourly basis as a scopist.
This calculation is what most scopists can expect to earn after gaining experience in this field and becoming proficient. The amount of time it can take to be able to earn this amount per hour varies from person to person. People considering entering the freelance scoping field can expect to need to scope approximately 500 pages in order to become proficient at the job before being able to earn the rate per hour given here.
TYPICAL SCOPIST SALARY PER HOUR
The typical rate scopists charge to scope a transcript is $1.25 per page.
Based on a national average, the typical pace at which experienced scopists can scope a transcript is approximately 23 pages per hour.
$1.25 per page x 23 pages per hour = $28.75 per hour
Round this rate up, and you can see that an average scopist working on an average transcript will make $29 per hour.
You can earn more per hour, and you can earn less per hour. Scopists can scope easy transcripts more quickly, while difficult transcripts take longer.
POTENTIAL AVERAGE SCOPIST EARNINGS BY DAY
A scopist who scopes 80 pages a day at $1.25 per page will take approximately 3.5 hours to earn $100.
POTENTIAL AVERAGE SCOPIST EARNINGS BY WEEK
A scopist who scopes 500 pages per week at $1.25 per page will take approximately 22 hours to earn $625.
POTENTIAL AVERAGE SCOPISTS EARNINGS BY MONTH
A scopist who scopes 2,000 pages per month at $1.25 per page will take approximately 87 hours to earn $2,500.00.
Scopists can earn more than this and less than this. They’ll earn less by not having enough work or by scoping pages slower than the average rate. They will earn more primarily by working on expedited transcripts when such transcripts are available. Some scopists also charge more for scoping video depositions.
There is also a type of scoping called spot checking, where the court reporter wants you to scope the entire transcript but listen to the audio only in the spots they have marked. Spot checking requires a solid ability to read steno.
Scopists charge the same rates no matter where they are located. You’ll find average scopist rates here.
HOW MUCH WORK DO SCOPISTS HAVE?
The amount of work scopists have varies all the time. One month a scopist may receive only 300 pages to scope. The next month they may receive 3,000 pages to scope.
The volume of work you receive depends on how much you want and how much you can get. The volume of work you can get depends upon your court reporter clients. How many clients do you have, and how much work do they want to give you? The size of your clientele and the amount of work they give to you depends on your networking abilities as well as the quality of the work you produce. Connect with more court reporters and get more work. Produce high-quality transcripts and get more work.
If you’re not happy with your networking skills and/or your work quality, there are ways these can be improved.
The amount of money you can earn per hour as a scopist is high. However, this does not mean that you should rush through transcripts. Court transcripts are very important documents, and they must be scoped carefully so they will be completely accurate. In any profession, doing an excellent job is the best way to earn repeat clients and earn more money. The same is true for scoping. Do an excellent job and earn excellent money.
Cover photo by: KHarp
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.