Stenography is a highly sought-after skill and can be quite lucrative, with CNBC reporting that experienced stenographers can earn upwards of $100,000 per year as court reporters. In spite of this, interest in the profession has declined over the last 10 years, resulting in a shortage of at least 5,000 reporters.
Stenographers and scopists symbiotically play a critical role in the US legal system. They are responsible for capturing a verbatim transcript of court proceedings and are considered to be guardians of the judicial record.
With that said, both roles entail laser focus and complete accuracy. One court reporter commented that because of the grueling nature of stenography, the attrition rate at training programs can be as high as 90%. Additionally, to maintain certification, court reporters are required to complete 30 units of continuing education every three years.
Tips for reducing burnout in stenography and scoping
Stenography and scoping are high-stakes and high-stress jobs that depend on precision and speed. Even the smallest mistake or misinterpretation could compromise the integrity of judicial proceedings. The strain of the profession is the top cause of court reporter burnout. So, to help you manage the symptoms of burnout, here are some tips.
Find a teammate in a scopist
Many stenographers suffer from feeling isolated due to working long, exhausting hours. One way to solve this problem is by pairing up with a scopist who can cut your workload in half. A scopist can take over the task of proofreading and editing transcripts. However, unlike a traditional editor or a proofreader, a scopist also has the ability to compare a shorthand document to the finished transcript.
Moreover, having a skilled teammate to collaborate with can boost confidence and reduce tension. [edit starts-- Crystal Foster, a court reporter who decided to work with a scopist for a high-profile criminal case had this to say, "The attorneys had my transcript out and were all over it, reading from it in court and showing it. All I could think was, thank God for scopists and proofreaders. They are essential in this field.
Take care of your vision health
Scoping necessitates staring at a computer screen for long periods of time and reading and correcting extensive documents. Consequently, scopists should practice good eye health to minimize eye strain, which can lead to long-term vision issues. You can do this by implementing the 20/20/20 rule. Basically, this means for every 20 minutes you spend in front of a screen, look away at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
If you wear glasses, updating your glasses prescription is also crucial because if you don’t, it can have a negative impact on your vision, leading to eye strain and headaches. A visit to an optical shop or eye doctor who can give you an eye exam is a good option for this. On the other hand, if you’re pressed for time, eyewear brands like Ray-Ban allow customers to add their prescriptions to online orders and can be shipped straight to your doorstep.
Maintain work-life balance with a routine
The beauty of being a scopist on a work-at-home basis is that it allows you to fit work into your life. As our course creator and instructor Linda Evenson notes, "I loved being able to fit my work in around my life instead of vice versa." But at the same time, when working from home, it can be easy to get swept up in work mode without realizing you’ve been at it for over 8 hours. This can happen especially if there’s no longer a clear physical boundary that separates work time and free time. Setting boundaries by sticking to a routine can be useful to prevent burnout.
Having a basic structure for when you will start your day, eat, work, take personal time, and sleep keeps you organized and ensures that you still get free time. Supplementing your routine with exercise and healthy meals has also been found to increase productivity and focus.
Take breaks throughout the day
One study on workplace health and safety emphasizes that going through the workday without any downtime to refresh and recharge results in inefficiency, more mistakes, and feeling less engaged. To avoid this, integrating 5-minute breaks every hour is encouraged. During these breaks, try stretching to improve circulation, take a short walk, or hydrate and eat a healthy snack. This is especially vital for scopists and stenographers whose jobs comprise being sedentary for long periods.
It takes resilience and determination to succeed in the competitive, high-stakes profession of stenography and scoping. With the tips we've laid out above, you can prevent burnout by developing healthier work habits and improving your quality of life.
If you're interested in transitioning to a work-at-home career as a scopist, you can check out our previous blog post on testimonials from fellow scopists! Visit the Scope School website for more tips, testimonials, and a free introductory course to scoping.
Written by May McGee for http://scopeschool.com