Legal Transcription is a career with plenty of earning potential and flexibility. Many Legal Transcriptionists work from home on their own schedule, as long as they complete their assignments by a deadline. There are no specific educational requirements either.
That doesn’t mean getting started is easy, though. The process of becoming a Legal Transcriptionist has its challenges, but you’ll be more successful when you follow these survival tips.
1. Get the Right Equipment
Legal transcription is about speed and accuracy. You can transcribe much faster and more efficiently when you have the right equipment. That includes a computer, a foot pedal to start and stop recordings, and a pair of noise-canceling headphones to provide the best audio quality and minimize distractions from the outside world.
2. Improve Your Typing Speed
Since you’re paid based on how much you transcribe, typing faster increases how much you earn. If you can type 100 words per minute, you’ll probably make almost twice as much as if you can type 60 words per minute. At a minimum, you should be able to type 85 words per minute with minimal errors. If not, look for typing courses online. There are plenty of free options that can dramatically improve your typing.
3. Learn the Shortcuts
There are plenty of keyboard shortcuts and word expanders that can help you transcribe more quickly. Templates and stylesheets are other tools that the best transcribers use to maximize efficiency.
4. Find a Training Program
You may not need a degree, but completing legal transcription training will improve your skills and help you land more jobs. And considering all the terminology involved in legal transcription, a training program can help you quite a bit.
5. Communicate with Clients
Before you start transcribing, make sure you’re clear on what your client wants, because you’ll transcribe differently if they need a verbatim, semi-verbatim or edited transcript. You should also get all the names and technical terms upfront to avoid any confusion when you’re transcribing.
6. Have Legal Reference Books on Hand
Hear a term that you’re not familiar with? That’s why it pays off to have one or more legal reference books at your desk, allowing you to quickly look up terms and make sure that you’ve gotten them right.
7. Clean Up Your Audio Files
Unfortunately, the audio files you receive from clients won’t always be the best, and straining to hear voices will slow you down. If you get a low-quality file, start by using an enhancer program to improve it. You can reduce background noise and enhance the voices this way. Many transcription programs include audio enhancement features.
8. Listen Again After You Transcribe
You may be surprised at how much you catch when you listen to an audio file for the second time. Clients expect a high level of accuracy from you, which is why you should listen to your audio file after transcribing it to see if there are any errors or words you missed.
9. Stay Comfortable
When you’re sitting for hours and typing thousands of words per day, it can easily lead to carpal tunnel and other bothersome conditions. That’s less likely when you have a desk, a comfortable chair and you keep your monitor at eye level to avoid hunching over.
10. Take Breaks When You Need Them
Legal transcription can be stressful. You need to be at your best the entire time you’re working, transcribing quickly and maintaining at least 98-percent accuracy. If you try to work around the clock, you’ll eventually wear down. Take short breaks when you feel yourself start to slow down or lose focus. They’ll allow you to recharge and perform at your best.
Although legal transcription can be difficult, if you have excellent typing skills and high attention to detail, you can be successful at it. Start your legal transcription career on the right foot by implementing the tips listed above. You’ll do a better job with your transcriptions, and that will result in happier clients.