Calling all wordsmiths with a love for crime dramas! If you’re looking for a career change, then transcript proofreading may be the perfect job for you. The role involves proofreading legal transcripts created by court reporters (cue detective music). It makes use of all the general proofreading skills but comes with a higher earning potential, better job consistency, and more growth opportunities.
Below, we’ll delve further into what exactly transcript proofreading is and how you can get started in this career. We’ll also dispel any red herrings (aka misconceptions) about transcript proofreading — and no, you don’t need a degree or years of legal experience to succeed as a TP!
What is Transcript Proofreading
Transcript proofreading is an editing role in the legal field that essentially deals with cleaning up court transcripts. The typical responsibilities include fixing grammatical mistakes, checking for spelling errors, filling in omissions, and ensuring dates are accurate. Transcript proofreaders must also adhere to style guidelines and ensure any corrections made do not alter the speakers’ tones of voice.
A common misconception is that transcript proofreading and scoping are the same. While both roles involve proofreading court transcripts, scopists must also learn the nuts and bolts behind transcription; they need to be familiar with court reporting shorthand, work with computer-assisted translation software (CAT), and format legal documents according to court reporters’ style guidelines.
On the flip side, transcript proofreaders are typically the last line of defense; they’re responsible for catching final errors that have gone unnoticed by scopists.
Can I Make Money Proofreading Court Transcripts from Home?
Yes, you can proofread court transcripts from the comfort of your home. As a TP, you aren’t expected to attend any legal proceedings in person; transcripts are sent to you electronically, typically via email or another messaging software. Pretty much all transcript proofreading is performed remotely and on a freelance basis!
Transcript Proofreader Salary & Hourly Rates
Transcript proofreaders make up to $85,000 yearly. That’s a much higher salary than that of most general proofreading gigs and works out to some competitive proofreading hourly wages — $40 to $50 an hour for more experienced TPs, and beginners can typically start out charging $15 to $18 hourly — many earn $32,000 in their first year.
As an alternative to hourly rates, many transcript proofreaders set per-project rates, charging between $0.35 and $0.85 per page. Prices per project vary depending on the expected turnaround time and the content of the transcripts being reviewed (i.e. transcripts dense with medical lingo will pay a whole lot more).
When it comes to TPs versus general proofreaders, transcript proofreaders have a much more consistent workload because, though there are a large quantity of transcription proofreading jobs available in the US due to the hundreds of thousands of court cases every year, there are very few people who have the necessary expertise and who have pursued this career.
To emphasize the great need for professionals in this field, state laws — like the Texas Uniform Format Manual for Texas Reporters’ Records — emphasize that “the [unedited] transcript of the proceedings must not be certified and must not be used, cited, or transcribed as a certified transcription of the proceedings.” So, who you gonna call? Transcript proofreaders!
How to Become a Transcript Proofreader
Proofreading transcripts requires a detective’s eye for detail; you must be able to meticulously spot and correct even the smallest spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, and typos.
However, while proofreading general written text typically involves cleaning up repeated words, you must also be conscious of the fact that transcripts are verbatim records; you may need to ignore certain grammar and punctuation rules depending on the context.
For example, most court reporters expect mistakes if they contribute to verbatim accuracy. You should also consider the speaker’s accent and emotions when correcting punctuation.
Other skills required to excel in this field include:
- Proficiency in thorough research
- Familiarity with transcript style guidelines, ethics, and industry terminology (especially medical and legal lingo)
- Great time management
- High-quality performance even in high-pressure situations
- Excellent communication skills
Transcript proofreading is more complex than general proofreading, but honing the skills required for the role is easy with the right attitude, commitment, and support. An online transcript proofreading course can help you pick up all the necessary skills quickly (more on this later, so stay tuned), plus, our list of 25 Best Motivational Books is golden for setting your mind on a goal!
How Do I Find Proofreading Clients?
It’s important to make sure that you complete transcript proofreading training before looking for clients and potential jobs. Once you are trained and certified, you can start the marketing and outreach process.
You can find transcript proofreading clients by directly reaching out to court reporters, working with a dedicated reporting agency, or even marketing your services on social media platforms like LinkedIn. Job hunting as a transcript proofreader is much easier than finding clues at a crime scene!
Transcript proofreading jobs are also frequently advertised on online job boards.
You can also join dedicated proofreading community groups, like our Proofread Anywhere graduate and student groups, on social media platforms. You can also join the Job Board for Court Reporters, Scopists, and Proofreaders, and the Proofreaders Zone.
But before you secure your first client, it’s important that you have had all the necessary training for the role. With the help of an online course, we’re confident you’ll master the skills you need and build a successful transcript proofreading career.
Transcript Proofreading Courses & Special Training
Transcript proofreading doesn’t require a degree or previous legal experience, but you do need to hone specific skills to ensure you can edit legal texts carefully, efficiently, and accurately. Many of these skills will come naturally (like a keen eye for detail and perfect grammar), especially if you’ve already been working as a general proofreader.
Speaking of which, there is one huge difference between general proofreading and transcript proofreading, and it spells out exactly why a specialized course is needed if you’re aiming for a career as a TP.
Regular proofreading involves carefully reviewing and correcting written text while following grammar, punctuation, and spelling rules closely. But with transcript proofreading? You need to proofread verbatim records without altering the speaker’s tone — something which usually means ignoring typical grammar rules. In other words, it’s a whole different ball game and it does take time to get used to!
Court Proofreader Certification
Getting certified as a transcript proofreader isn’t essential for the job. However, having a certificate will make you stand out from other transcript proofreaders, reassuring court reporters that you have the training, expertise, and knowledge to deliver a reliable service. What’s more, it could be a great bridge to further your career in court reporting or transcription.
The Best Transcript Proofreading Courses
The best online courses for getting a transcript proofreading certification are those that feature comprehensive transcription modules, practice materials, and lifetime support along with a certificate upon completion. Course content should also be kept up to date, with new modules introduced as the legal climate shifts and technology evolves.
We weren’t going to toot our own horn, but… It’s too good to pass. The dedicated Transcript Proofreading course at Proofread Anywhere provides all of the above and plenty more! Our course even teaches you how to establish your freelance proofreading business, with modules on how to effectively advertise your services and secure clients in the industry.
Our program is suitable for total beginners and experienced general proofreaders alike. The course covers modules such as:
- An introduction to the many types of proofreading
- The nuts and bolts of transcript proofreading
- How to use proofreading software (including a module on how AI tools can help improve your efficiency)
- How to communicate with clients and build strong relationships
The course also includes several quizzes, a graded final exam, and practice transcripts of varying difficulty and topics. Plus, you’ll gain access to an exclusive transcript proofreading community where you can connect with fellow students and celebrate your milestones together.
For more information, you can find the full syllabus here.
Of course, you don’t just have to take our word for it. You can try our 7-day FREE intro course to see whether it’s right for you. Once you’re ready to start your journey, you can dive into the full Transcript Proofreading course for a mere fraction of the price you might pay for a degree in a similar field (a worthy investment, if you ask us!).
Or, if you’ve decided you’re not quite ready for a transcript proofreading role, why not check out regular proofreading instead? To get started, download our FREE ebook The Beginner’s Guide to Proofreading for Profit.