When I tell people what I do for a living, their response is usually to the tune of, “Oh, how interesting. I bet you hear a lot of juicy cases.” I often shrug and say, “Sometimes they can be,” but the reality is is that it’s not all that more interesting than any other job. If they seem curious, then the conversation usually turns to another direction: can they do what I do.
The answer is easy. How the hell should I know? You know you better than I know you. I’ve assembled a quick list of five traits and skills that, if you have them, you could be successful at scoping and transcription.
(5) You Love Wearing Hats – As a scopist or a transcriptionist, there is always the chance you get hired by some large firm to work a 9-5 Monday through Friday, but there is a much higher chance that you would instead work for yourself. This means that you will be an independent contractor or a small business owner. As enticing as it may be, being your own boss rarely means doing what you want. Some days you have to put on your IT hat, other days it will be customer service, and other days it will be bookkeeping. If you need direction and are unable to wear many hats, this line of work may not be for you.
(4) Pressure? What Pressure! – Work will not always come evenly and routinely. There may be stretches where work slows down immensely and times where you have to cancel all your plans just to keep up. There will frequently be moments of urgency sprinkled throughout the week, so be prepared!
(3) WPM is King – When it comes to transcription, and a much lesser extent scoping, your words per minute means everything. How fast you can accurately type directly translates to how much money you can make. With scoping, it’s not so much typing as just generally knowing all the main shortcuts and programming your own macros. The faster you can do the job, the more jobs you can do.
(2) Focus, Focus, Focus – You are your own boss. Yay! Now it’s time to hate your boss. Make sure you keep yourself busy with all of the tasks that are involved with running your own business (see hats above). Create jobs to do with deadlines and then stick to them. Establish the structure in your work-life that you would get in an office environment and treat every day like the boss is right around the corner, checking your work.
(1) Grammar is Your First Love – Whether scoping, transcribing, or proofreading, you must have a love affair with the written word. You will be doing a lot of reading and a lot of writing; it comes with the territory. If you didn’t appreciate that subtle yet intentional use of the semicolon in that last sentence, then maybe this job isn’t for you. Successful scopists, transcriptionists, and proofreaders are generally bibliophiles who have strong opinions about the Oxford comma.
“Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.” – T.S. Eliot