Students interested in a legal transcription career can choose to earn a certificate or an associate's degree at many colleges around the country. Certificates can take about one year to complete, while an associate's degree typically lasts for two years.
Schools with Legal Transcription Programs
Undergraduate programs in or related to legal transcription can often be found at community colleges, which is evident by the following list of schools.
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016, In-State)*|
|Miami Dade College||Miami, FL||4-year, primarily associate's, Public||Associate's||$2,834|
|Palomar College||San Marcos, CA||2-year, Public||Associate's, Certificate||$1,338|
|Cerritos College||Norwalk, CA||2-year, Public||Associate's, Certificate||$1,346|
|Fullerton College||Fullerton, CA||2-year, Public||Associate's||$1,138|
|Southwestern College||Chula Vista, CA||2-year, Public||Associate's, Certificate||$1,336|
|Nassau Community College||Garden City, NY||2-year, Public||Associate's||$4,854|
|Lansing Community College||Lansing, MI||2-year, Public||Associate's, Certificate||$3,020 (in-district); $5,660 (in-state)|
|Milwaukee Area Technical College||Milwaukee, WI||2-year, Public||Associate's||$4,360|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics
School Selection Criteria
Choosing the right education program can be a challenge, so it might be helpful for students interested in legal transcription programs to consider the following:
- Certificate programs typically last a year and therefore only offer a small number of courses that cover essential skills in the field. Associate's degree programs usually last a year longer, but they offer a wider range of legal-related coursework and general education classes.
- Associate's degree programs in legal transcription or a related field may make students more competitive for a wider variety of job positions, such as shorthand court reporter, legal secretary, and office transcription assistant.
- Programs with an internship offer students a chance to gain real-world legal transcription service experience working at a law firm or in a local courtroom.
Associate's Degree Programs
Training in legal transcription is usually included within broader degree programs for aspiring legal administrative assistants and paralegals. In addition completing general education requirements and getting basic office skills training, students often take a class in legal transcription. In this course, students learn to transcribe dictated material into legal documents; students gain familiarity with the software used for this task, and they develop their keyboarding skills so that they can achieve perfect accuracy when transcribing legal documents.
Certificate programs offered specifically in legal transcription are rare, but they are available at some institutions. These programs consist of only a few courses and cover basic topics such as legal terminology and different types of legal documents. They also provide practical transcription training exercises. In total, they take about five months to complete.
In most cases, like associate's degree programs, certificate programs that cover legal transcription are designed to provide comprehensive training for legal administrative assistants, so they provide education in other aspects of law office work as well. However, unlike associate's degree programs, they do not include general education coursework, so they usually only take a year to complete.
Several institutions, especially public community colleges, offer programs in or related to legal transcription. Certificate programs are ideal for students who want to learn the fundamentals of legal transcription in a short period of time; associate's degree holders may be better-equipped to compete for legal transcription positions as well as jobs for legal secretaries and shorthand court reporters.