Court transcriptionists form a vital part of any law firm. The transcriptionist’s role is to reproduce court proceedings verbatim as a written record.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), around 18,500 transcriptionists operate in the country. Yet it may surprise you that many transcribers in the legal profession rarely find themselves in a courtroom.
In this article, we’ll discuss what a courtroom transcriber does, how to become a court transcriptionist, and why Sonix can help these professionals become more efficient.
What is a Transcriber in Court?
You may be familiar with courtroom journalists who watch proceedings and write an article from them. Other in-court transcribers are responsible for typing up official proceedings as they happen.
On the other hand, most legal transcribers work specifically for law firms, taking audio recordings and transcribing them verbatim to support lawyers in their casework. In contrast to their court counterparts, legal transcribers may work from home or an office, rarely attending court settings.
And there’s no shortage of work, with legal transcription expected to see a market rise of 6.9% from 2022 until 2029.
Court Transcriber Duties
Court transcribers primarily attend court hearings and legal meetings, where they will type verbatim records live. Most court transcription jobs require that the successful candidate be able to type at 200 WPM.
Moreover, a transcriber in court must understand various legal terminology to create accurate records. With severe time constraints in a live setting, court transcribers must have a higher level of accuracy than ordinary transcriptionists.
In many cases, the court transcriptionist must also note any physical gestures they see. Documenting these gestures is essential in the legal profession because it allows the finished record to tell the mood and the intent of what was said.
As courts and law firms evolve, transcriptionists must familiarize themselves with new technology to overcome the challenges of creating an accurate courtroom transcription. For example, what happens if someone doesn’t speak English?
Tools like Sonix can help with transcribing for court reporters because our robust AI services can provide transcriptions in 38+ world languages, including Spanish, French, German, and Japanese.
How to Become a Legal Transcriptionist?
Conventional transcriptionists often need little more than a good ear, strong typing skills, and impeccable grammar to succeed. These professionals may be freelancers who need more formal education or training to understand what they record.
A transcriber in court is very different. They must understand what is going on around them, and they’re documenting live events with no do-overs. That is why the average salary for this job is $60,130, which is higher than the average transcriptionist.
So, if you’re figuring out how to become a court transcriptionist, what do you need to get started?
Even entry-level transcriptionists will require a certain level of education. Positions can change their requirements accordingly, but you should expect to have your GED at least. Currently, most jobs also ask for documentation of college study, including English proficiency and legal study courses. Generally, the more education you have, the higher your chances of landing a job.
Employers will determine specific requirements for certifications or level of education. That said, most transcribers choose to earn a national certification, such as a Certified Electronic Transcriber (CET), endorsed by the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers.
Alternatively, you may elect to complete a selection of certificate programs offered through vocational and technical schools. Most take just a few months to complete and provide a basic overview of the legal terminology you’ll likely encounter on the job. An increasing number of programs include options for online education.
If you’re already experienced in transcription, taking a legal course is also helpful. Embarking on a paralegal degree program further adds to your credibility as a prospective transcriber court.
Some states also require you to be licensed. These states might mandate that anyone working in a legal environment must show proof of a license, which usually involves taking an exam.
A few states also require court transcriptionists to be notary public. Becoming a notary public involves a brief training course and another exam.
Essential Transcription Skills
With your education, certification, and license down, the final step is demonstrating that you have the critical skills to enter the courtroom as a reliable transcriptionist.
To be competitive in the market, you should have the following skills:
- Great listening skills
- 200 WPM typing skills
- Stenographer experience
- Perfect spelling
- Impeccable grammar
Your experience will reflect your skill level and education. New and aspiring transcriptionists may need to take short examinations during the interview process. Of course, different employers will determine how they select their next candidate.
Take Transcription to the Next Level with Sonix
Like every industry, transcription constantly evolves. Automated tools powered by artificial intelligence have become game changers for improving efficiency and supporting transcriptionists in their roles.
At Sonix, our solutions can support legal professionals by allowing them to format, translate audio, and rework their transcriptions for purposes like casework.
Sonix makes it simple to transcribe audio and video into text in minutes. Our globally recognized software supports over 38 world languages and provides an easy-to-use dashboard for all your transcriptionist needs.
Enhance your productivity by trying Sonix for free today!