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Legal Transcriptionist Career Information

Mar 16, 2019

A legal transcriptionist transcribes speech or audio files of legal proceedings into written reports. You can read further to learn about the training and skills requirements, along with the salary and employment outlook, to see if this career is a good fit for you.

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Career Definition for a Legal Transcriptionist

Legal transcriptionists, often known as court reporters, record in writing the exact speech of legal proceedings, business meetings, and public events to accurately capture what is said by attendees and create permanent files. They may use stenotype machines, steno masks, or digital recorders to aid in capturing rapidly spoken conversation. Working for law firms or legal service agencies, legal transcriptionists may also store audio files and be responsible for the distribution of reports to clients, the media, and other sources.

Education High school diploma or GED and on-the-job training required; 2-year college program recommended; state license may also be required
Job Skills Good hearing and listening skills, understanding of legal terminology, spelling and typing skills
Median Salary (2017)* $55,120 for court reporters
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 3% increase for court reporters

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

A high school diploma and on-the-job training can be enough to become a legal transcriptionist. But, graduation from a 2-year vocational school or junior college is advisable. Programs are available in specific legal transcription technology methods, like stenography. Aspiring legal transcriptionists should consider taking classes in court reporting, legal terminology, dictation, composition, and grammar.

Court reporters may need to pass a state licensing exam to be able to work in a courtroom. The Registered Professional Reporter credential, a commonly earned certification, is available through the National Court Reporters Association.

Skills Required

Good hearing and listening skills are needed for transcribing. An understanding of legal terminology, excellent spelling, and accurate typing skills are also necessary to be a successful legal transcriptionist.

Career and Economic Outlook

Legal transcriptionists, also known as court reporters, are expected to experience a 3% job growth from 2016 to 2026, partly due to a growing demand for captioning services resulting from new federal legislation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Also published by the BLS, the median income for those in this field was $55,120 in May 2017.

Alternate Career Options

Consider these other options for a career similar to legal transcription:

Interpreter and Translator

With a bachelor's degree and fluency in at least two languages, these professionals convert spoken, written, or signed information from one language to another. In 2017, the BLS reported annual median earnings of $47,190 for these positions, while predicting much faster-than-average employment growth of 18% from 2016-2026.

Medical Transcriptionist

Applicants with postsecondary training in medical transcription, along with a solid foundation in medical terminology, anatomy, and word processing software, should have the best job prospects securing employment converting doctors' and other health care professionals' voice recordings into a written format. During the 2016-2026 decade, the BLS anticipated 3% job decline for medical transciptionists. The BLS also reported an annual median salary of $35,250 in 2017.

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