The word “scopist” is derived from the first computers, which had a diode scope or screen.
Simply stated, a scopist’s job is to edit transcripts written by court reporters on stenotype machines into readable, easily understood English.
The official NCRA definition is: “A scopist is one who edits a transcript translated by CAT (Computer-Aided Transcription) software into English, correcting mistrans/untrans of steno notes, employing proper punctuation, English, and format.” So there you have it in a nutshell!
Inherent in this definition are two basic skills: Good English/punctuation and the ability to read machine shorthand. Sound scary? It’s not! People who make successful scopists already have an aptitude for and enjoy working with words. They’re good spellers and have a good vocabulary, so the steno part comes very easily for them.
Scoping hopefuls must also be highly motivated self-starters, capable of meeting deadlines, researching elusive spellings, and very dedicated to spending possibly very long hours in front of a computer to help their clients produce meticulous and accurate transcripts. In short, scoping is a real job! And for word nerds, it’s an exciting one.
Scopists are also independent contractors. This means they must also be able to handle their own billing and accounts receivable, preparatory tax paperwork, and withhold and pay applicable state and federal taxes. You’re not all on your own, though — Internet Scoping School’s in-depth training provides a robust guide to doing your own taxes, and if you’re not a fan of DIY, a good accountant can help with every step!
A successful scopist will always be seeking to improve his or her skills and his or her mastery of the ever-changing English language. If you become a scopist, you must also be able to use a keyboard and a computer, be willing to learn to troubleshoot software and hardware problems, and keep up with the rapid-paced advancements in the computer industry and in court reporting software.