Law enforcement transcription is a branch of legal transcription and is consistently in high demand. In this article, we are going to answer the question “what is law enforcement transcription?” and we’ll show how you could get started as a law enforcement transcriber.
If you’ve been looking for a new side hustle as a way of earning some extra money or you’re looking to completely change your career path and move into a field that offers high levels of flexibility and can be done entirely remotely, affording you more control over your daily life, you might already have come across transcription and the many benefits that transcription jobs can provide.
Transcription is a varied and adaptable career that involves working with clients or employers to transfer audio or video files into a text format.
Typically, beginners will start out by taking on general transcription assignments. Entry-level jobs enable new transcribers to gain experience and skills before moving onto more specialized areas of transcription with higher rates of pay and more tailored assignments.
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What Is Law Enforcement Transcription?
Proper documentation is a vital aspect of law enforcement. Police officers must document any incidents that occur while they are on patrol, and this process can be extremely time-consuming. Lots of officers find that the documentation of events and occurrences can seriously disrupt their workday, distracting them from their primary role as law enforcers and taking up precious time that could be spent serving and protecting the community.
This is where law enforcement transcribers come in. More commonly now, police officers will simply dictate incidents at the scene, recording an audio account of the event which can then be transcribed by a specialist law enforcement transcriber soon after. This saves the police officers considerable time and makes the documentation process much more efficient.
Using specifically trained transcriptionists also improves the accuracy and cohesive formatting of law enforcement reports, so it isn’t surprising that the service is becoming more and more in-demand.
How is Law Enforcement Transcription Different From Legal Transcription?
There is definitely some cross-over between legal transcription and law enforcement transcription.
Some legal transcribers may also take on law-enforcement jobs as well as other legal transcription assignments such as court proceedings, 911 calls, witness interviews, and jury instructions. However, law enforcement transcribers specialize specifically in transcribing police reports.
Related reading: What is Legal Transcription?
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What Skills Does a Law Enforcement Transcriber Need?
All transcription work requires excellent listening skills and attention to detail. This is especially true when working on potentially sensitive files such as law enforcement reports. Time management and organization skills are also required to ensure that all deadlines are met in a timely manner.
Law enforcement transcribers will need to have a good understanding of the legal system and the incident reporting process so that transcripts are coherent and easy to understand and to limit the chances of there being any mistakes or inaccuracies.
Excellent typing skills are also needed. Typically transcribers are expected to have a typing speed of 70 words per minute and above. Transcribers also need to be computer-literate and competent when using specific word processing or transcription software programs.
If you’re typing speed could use some improvement, please read How to Type Faster.
Because law enforcement transcription involves working with sensitive and confidential documents, transcribers will also need to have proven professionalism and discretion, adhering to any confidentiality rules as set by the client.
How Much Does a Law Enforcement Transcriber Earn?
According to Transcription Outsourcing, the average full-time law enforcement transcriber can earn upwards of $60,000 per year, with rates averaging at around $0.80 to $1.10 per audio minute.
The average salary of a law enforcement transcriber will vary depending on their level of skill and experience and the complexity or size of the specific job.
Transcribers are ordinarily paid per audio minute transcribed and one audio minute is said to equate to roughly four minutes of work. At that speed, a fifteen-minute audio file will generally take around one hour to transcribe, although, as we said, this will vary depending on your level of skill and the specific assignment. It’s important to bear this in mind, particularly if you’re going to be working as a freelancer and setting your own rates of pay.
When you’re just starting out in your transcription career, you will probably need to complete some more basic, lower-paid jobs to gain some experience and build your portfolio before moving onto these higher-paid jobs.
General transcription assignments provide a great way for beginners to gain experience as they are often considered to be more entry-level assignments. But ultimately, specializing in a specific type of transcription such as law enforcement definitely enables transcribers to earn higher rates on account of the extra skills and expertise that these jobs require.
Getting Started as a Law Enforcement Transcriber
Now that we have covered all of the basics and you know a little more about what law enforcement transcription is and how much you could earn as a law enforcement transcriber, let’s take a look at what you will need to do to get started on your new career path.
Whether you’re considering law enforcement transcription as a new full-time career, or are simply looking for a new side hustle to give your regular income a boost, these steps and tips will undoubtedly make it much easier to build a successful law enforcement transcription career.
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Tools and Equipment You Will Need
If you’re working as a remote, freelance law enforcement transcriber, you’re probably going to need to invest in your own tools and transcription equipment. There’s no need to head straight out and buy all of the top-of-the-range equipment straight away, but some basic tools will make the job much easier and more efficient.
Firstly, you are going to need a functioning laptop or desktop computer and a reliable internet connection.
It’s also a great idea to invest in some good quality headphones. This will make it much easier to listen to the audio files and transcribe them accurately. Attention to detail is key within transcription work, so being able to really focus on the audio is super important. It also means you will be less distracted by any background noises while working remotely.
A foot pedal can also greatly increase your speed and efficiency. A transcription foot pedal lets the transcriber control the audio playback using their foot. This means there is no need to take your hands or your eyes off the keyboard and makes typing quickly much easier. Any basic foot pedal with play, pause, rewind, and fast forward functions will do the job.
Finally, an ergonomic keyboard may seem like an unnecessary luxury, and it’s true that investing in one of these is by no means essential. However, with that being said, an ergonomic keyboard can make typing for extended periods of time much more comfortable, meaning you’re able to work for longer and take on more jobs.
Investing In Your Training
Aside from the basic tools and equipment that you will need to get started in your law enforcement transcription career, it is also important that you invest in yourself and your own training.
Because law enforcement transcription is a specialist career, it requires very specific skills and expertise. Without these, it will be much more difficult to secure your first job and begin building your portfolio.
There are lots of accessible and affordable transcription training courses and guides online and many of these are aimed specifically at those looking to go into legal or law enforcement transcription. We recommend the legal transcription course from Transcribe Anywhere.
Having some formal training or accreditation shows employers or clients that you have taken the time to refine your knowledge and craft and proves that you have expert knowledge in this specific field.
If you’re not entirely convinced that law enforcement transcription is a good fit for you, a quick Google search will also uncover numerous general and legal transcription courses that can be completed for free, giving you an overall introduction to this kind of transcription. Not all of these courses will provide you with formal qualifications, but they should give you a good idea of whether this line of work is right for you, in which case, you can then go on to invest in one of the more formal training courses available.
Finding Work as a Law Enforcement Transcriber
As a law enforcement transcriptionist, there are a few different ways you could find and secure your first assignments.
There is a wide range of transcription companies and agencies operating online, matching transcribers with clients who are looking to outsource their transcription work. This is probably the most straightforward and secure way of finding work as a transcriber. The company will set the rates of pay and will assign you to jobs that they deem to be appropriate to your skill and experience level.
Alternatively, you could use an online freelancer platform where clients advertise job postings and freelancers then submit proposals in order to secure the job. Using this method, you will need to set and negotiate your own rates of pay with the client and you are free to apply for any jobs that you choose. This is a great way of networking and building client networks which could lead to long-term work. Examples of popular freelancer platforms include Freelancer and Upwork.
Like we have said, when you’re just starting out and securing your first job as a transcriptionist, it may be a good idea to take on some general transcription jobs to build your confidence and get familiar with the process of transcribing documents. Typically, general transcription jobs are more beginner-friendly; you are much more likely to find entry-level general transcription assignments than legal or law enforcement transcription assignments.
Final Thoughts on Law Enforcement Transcription
Law enforcement transcription can be extremely lucrative and provides freelancers with the opportunity to earn money from wherever they choose while setting their own working hours and taking on jobs that suit them and their lifestyles.
Now, more than ever, more and more of us are looking to remote work as a way of reducing job instability and precarity and gaining more control and a better work-life balance. Transcription work is consistently in high demand and having specialist skills in a specific area such as legal or law enforcement transcription means freelancers can earn higher rates of pay and secure more specialist work assignments.
The information, tips, and advice listed in this article should provide you with all of the necessary information to get started with your law enforcement transcription career.