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Travel While Working Online as a Scopist

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So many people want to travel but have no money. To solve this problem, a lot of people are starting to travel while working online at the same time. However, most people do not know this is an option. Those who do know, may not know how to make it happen. Still others have read about the online jobs that exist but don’t think any would be suitable for them.

One option for making travel money is something that almost no one has ever heard about – working as a scopist. This can be a very well-paying job. I myself traveled the world for two years, and one of my online jobs was working as a scopist. I earned more money as a scopist than I did any other way while traveling.

Many online jobs have titles everyone can understand, such as language teacher, writer, graphic designer, web and app developer, translator and transcriptionist. Other online jobs most people have never heard of, such as conversion rate optimizer, hubspot specialist, virtual assistant and performance marketer. The job of scopist falls into the latter category.

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So What is a Scopist?

A scopist is the person who transcribes the testimony that court reporters type onto their steno machines at depositions, trials, arbitrations, and other legal proceedings. The job scopists do is called scoping. Here I’ve written a more in-depth explanation of what a scopist is.

This isn’t actually a new line of work. Scoping dates back to the 1980’s. So why have very few people ever heard of it? Perhaps it is because the little-known job of scoping is related to the the likewise little-known job of court reporting.

Everyone has heard of court reporters, but almost no one understands what court reporters really do. And no one in the world but court reporters themselves understand how they type on steno machines. These two little-known jobs tend to go hand in hand. As court reporters are often seen in courtroom scenes on TV, at least most people have heard of their job. But scopists are behind the scenes. Almost no one knows they exist.

Throughout the decades, word about the world of scoping has not spread very far. But the job of scopist is definitely a thing.

Exactly What Is a Scopist’s Job?

A scopist reads through transcripts from legal proceedings, sent to them by court reporters, while simultaneously listening to the audio from the proceeding in order to transform the transcript into an accurate, correctly spelled and well-punctuated document. This is done by filling in words the court reporter might have missed primarily due to the speed of the testimony or by people talking over each other, ensuring that the transcript is well punctuated, and possibly needing to look up or check proper names as well as medical or technical terms to be sure they are correctly spelled. There are many ways to become a scopist, which I have detailed here. 


What Do You Need to Travel While Working Online as a Scopist?

Scoping is a good possibility for people who might not possess the skills necessary to make money online doing other jobs but who do have skills in certain areas.

People who are wordsmiths, people who love words, are very well suited for the job of scoping. People who don’t possess a love of language but who still are excellent at the English language are also very well suited for this job. If you’re not a native speaker of English, as long as you are completely fluent in both spoken and written English and have an excellent grasp of American English spellings, you can do this.

Scopists also need good punctuation skills. They need to be good listeners. Attention to detail is important. And the more skilled you are at typing, the better.

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Court reporters use special software to do their jobs, and scopists use a lighter version of this software to do their jobs.

Scopists need to buy this software and learn to use it, whether through an online scoping course, training from a scoping software company, a connection with a court reporter or scopist who can give advice on how to use the software, or by training themselves.

Here I’ve laid out details about what scopists can potentially earn.

Like many jobs, working as a scopist is easy when you get the hang of it. And once you get the hang of it, scoping can pay for your travels.

Travel While Working Online as a Scopist - Airplane over skyscrapers

Do People Really Travel and Work At the Same Time?

Yes. A lot. Thousands, if not tens of thousands. Many men and women travel around the world for months or years while working online all the while.

The most popular term used for people who travel while working is “digital nomad.”

Much is written about this topic, like this Forbes Magazine article about how to become a digital nomad

And this article in the New York Times about the travel/work life.

Many websites are devoted entirely to the life of digital nomads. Women Digital Nomads focuses specifically women who work while traveling.

People of all ages are working online while traveling, including one 60-year-old woman named Margaret Manning.

People who only want to or are only able to travel short term can earn extra money while scoping at home, then with this money take a vacation they might not otherwise ever have gotten to enjoy.

Just like any job in the world, working online as a scopist is not a good fit for everyone. But just like any job in the world, it is a good fit for many people. It worked for me. If you travel, you can work as a scopist. And if you work as a scopist, you can travel.

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Sabina Lohr

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 of working online while traveling and living abroad.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Hi! This is a great website. Saw it posted on the Facebook page. I was wondering if you could answer a couple of questions for me. I just got back into court reporting after almost a 25 year hiatus to raise my children. I do have a steady full-time job in another line of work, but because of the way the days are structured, it allows six months of very busy work, and six months of a lot of downtime. I was always interested in how to break into scoping, but can’t seem to quite grasp how it’s done. Maybe a little insight from you could help me understand. I guess my questions would mainly be focused on things like are you reading from the court reporter’s notes and expected to know what their writing is like as opposed to someone who may have had a different theory or uses more briefs?

    Hope I made that a little clear. Thanks, and good luck to you!

    1. Hi Camille – thank you! Scoping for others is very similar to scoping your own transcripts as a court reporter. The primary difference is you do need to listen to all of the audio while scoping for other court reporters. When I scope my own transcripts I can of course read my steno, plus I was there so I know how the deposition went. But scopists don’t know what happened at the depo (or court case or other proceeding) so they do have to listen to all of it as they read through the transcript. I’m not sure about scopists’ knowledge of steno. I know there are three scoping schools – Accodlade Scoping Education, Scope School and one other I can’t find right now. Some scopists, though, are trained by court reporters or learn in other ways, so I’m not sure if they know steno. A knowledge of it definitely does help because, as you know, if the audio is not good, if people are speaking over each other, if someone has a strong accent, if people are speaking very quickly, it could be difficult to know what they said only based on the audio. Since you’re a court reporter now, you could tell your agency and local court reporters’ association you’re available to scope and let them know which software you use. And I can list you on my Hire a Scopist page if you’d like.

  2. Excuse me, I’ve been doing some research on scoping too, but I have also heard that this job can have it’s periods of unstable work. Is this true?

  3. True. The workload can be light, heavy or in-between.

    If you get work from multiple court reporters, you’re less likely to have too little work. And if you’re able to say no when clients are asking you to work when you don’t want to, you’re less likely to have too much work. A scopist’s workload very much depends on how they handle things.

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