How to become a Legal transcriptionist?

Sese Hang Limbu
November 2022

How to become a Legal transcriptionist?

If you’re looking to pursue a career in the legal field, there are a lot of verticals to explore. Those who are meticulous and excel in typing skills can thrive as a legal transcriptionist.

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What Is a Legal Transcriptionist?

A legal transcriptionist is a person who converts speech into writing for legal purposes. It requires excellent listening and typing skills and knowledge of legal terminology, to succeed in this role. The written text must be verbatim, meaning it should be the exact words as heard on the recording.

Legal professionals like lawyers and attorneys use the documents to consult and build their case. There is no room for error in this profession, as a single mistake can prove costly.

Unlike court reporters, legal transcriptionists are not required to record live conversations. Instead, they receive an audio file, which they then transcribe into a written document. Since legal transcription is a remote job, they can work from the comfort of their home.

What Do Legal Transcriptionists Do?

Here are some major tasks legal transcriptionists must do:

  • Listen to provided media(audio/video) recordings
  • Transcribe recordings into legal documents, including legal memos, pleadings, motions, correspondence, depositions, time entries, et cetera if required
  • Use standard computer setup and a headset to listen and create documents
  • Transcribe the recording verbatim and proof-read to create error-free documents

How Much Do Legal Transcriptionists Earn?

As of 2022, the average salary of a legal transcriptionist in the US is $42,108. However, this number can vary depending on the geographical area, level of experience, employer and skill set. Depending on the employer, one can also get other benefits such as work-from-home opportunities, a flexible schedule, health insurance and professional development assistance.

How To Become a Legal Transcriptionist?

There is no one specific answer on how to become a legal transcriptionist. The best way to become a legal transcriptionist may vary depending on your qualifications and experience. There are also no set qualifications on the field required. Yet it is safe to have some training or certification under your belt.

However, requirements for legal transcriptionists can vary from state to state. Most states require transcriptionists to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent and pass a typing test with a minimum speed of 60 words per minute. Some states may also require certification from an accredited transcription program.

Even if there is no one-size-fits-all answer, here are some things you can do to become a legal transcriptionist:

1. Educational Qualification

You probably won't need a college degree to apply for an entry-level legal transcriptionist job, but you might require a high-school diploma. Along with that, it is better if you have experience working in a legal setting.

It is important to have a good understanding of the law, so completing a certificate program in legal transcription will strengthen your profile. You can pursue certificate programs in legal transcription offered through community colleges, vocational schools, and technical schools. Most of them take as little as a few months to complete, yet it will increase your chances of getting a legal transcriptionist role.

2. Enhance Your Skills

As we’ve mentioned before, there are a set of skills required to take on the role of a legal transcriptionist. Here are some of them:

  • Excellent listening skills
  • Fast and accurate typing (Preferably 60+ words a minute)
  • Attention to detail
  • Knowledge of legal terminologies
  • Language skills (Primary language that you will be transcribing)

More often, you will be working under legal professionals who will be responsible for your training. The majority of your skills will develop after you start and go on with the job.

3. Consider Getting a Certification

A certification of training or experience can further enhance your credibility. You can apply for a Certified Electronic Transcriber (CET) through the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers. You’ll need to pass a two-part exam that includes a multiple-choice knowledge examination and a practical examination.

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