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Voice Writing Careers

Updated on February 14, 2010

Voice Writing Careers

Opportunities for Voice Writing Careers include court reporting and captioning for television . Simply put, a voice writer provides transcription services by speaking into a microphone. Many businesses require spoken words to be converted into a text-based format such as a word processing document. The spoken word cannot be searched, browsed or studied for content nearly as efficiently as text-based material.

Careers in Voice Writing: Court Reporting

Historically, court reporters have employed a mechanical device to transcribe courtroom conversations. The stenotype machine is a specialized version of the traditional typewriter of computer keyboard. Voice Writers use a special mask, called a stenomask, into which the proceedings of the court are repeated. The mask contains a microphone and fits over the lower portion of the speaker's face. Specialized software then converts this audio into digital text. The stenomask prevents other people in the court room from hearing the voice of the transcription technologist and also prevents the microphone inside the mask from picking up spurious noises in the courtroom.

Some states have legislated the approval of Voice Writing as a transcription methodology. Skilled technologists can build a voice writing career as a direct employee of the court or as a contract / self-employed agent.

Careers in Voice Writing: Closed Captioning

Closed Captioning benefits hearing-impaired individuals as well as patrons who desire to hear television audio in a noisy environment such as a bar, restaurant or airport. Voice Writing Careers serve the public good in many ways.

The United States Government legislated closed captioning for almost all television programs. English and Spanish captions must be provided to viewers. Obviously multi-lingual Voice Writers can look forward to successful careers in Voice Writing.

Using the same stenomask as a court reporter, a closed-caption technologist listens to the audio feed from a television broadcast. She repeats the words into the microphone, adding descriptions such as "laughs", "explosion" and "applause" when necessary. Speech-recognition software accepts digital input from the microphone to create captions that appear on the screen as the broadcast proceeds. This activity takes place in real time, or as it happens. Captions are delivered along with the traditional audio and video feeds for many popular channels. All modern televisions (built since 1993) are programmed to optionally display captions by pressing a few buttons on the remote control.

Closed caption technologists have the freedom to work in varied locations. While a court transcriptionist usually sits quietly in the courtroom, a closed-caption transcriptionist may work anywhere with reliable Internet access.

Certification Programs for Voice Writing Careers

The National Court Reporters Association administers certification programs for court reporters and captioning professionals. Many schools provide degree programs or individual courses designed to prepare aspiring Voice Writers for certification examinations.

Suggested Personality Traits for a Voice Writing Career

High attention to detail: accurate transcription results are a must.Your product is the text that you create. If your product is 'wrong', you'll be out of business.

Willingness to sit for long periods of time: in order to produce quality results, a Voice Writer must sit calmly without fidgeting or getting up. Courtroom proceedings tend to drag on interminably.

Ability to hear and speak clearly into a mask or live microphone: The transcription process requires the Voice Writer to hear well and speak consistently. Keep in mind that an accent or a speech impediment may not be a detriment to a Voice Writing career. Modern software can be trained to deal with variations in voice while still producing accurate results.

Strong spelling and grammar skills: Certainly modern software provides some level of 'spell-checking', but the nuances of English (and Spanish) require human intervention to accurately transcribe.

Ability to speak into a mask while listening to multiple persons who are speaking: it's harder than most people think. Your brain must be trained to listen and talk at the same time. This skill isn't always obvious to most aspiring Voice Writers. It's typically acquired through drills and practice.

High Interest in learning in new technologies: your Voice Writing career will require you to adapt to hardware and software that hasn't yet been invented. be prepared to embrace change.

Ability to work under pressure: there's no pause button in a courtroom or during the Super Bowl. Lawyers continue to babble and commentators commentate without regard to your state of readiness.

Consistently strong work ethic: a real-time event begins with our without you. Successful Voice Writers get to work on time with properly functioning tools.

Desire to learn leading edge technologies: Speech recognition systems doesn't always function the way we expect. "Cutting Edge"is a glorious description applied to hardware and software that might not be ready for prime time.

Buzzwords and Acronyms in Voice Writing Careers

CAT - Computer Assisted Transcription

CART - Computer Assisted Real-time Transcription

FCC - Federal Communications Commission

NCRA - National Court Reporters Association

CLVS - Certified Legal Video Specialist


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    • profile image

      Nic 7 years ago

      Just a correction in your article coming from a certified court reporter machine writer. You mentioned that the NCRA has certification for Voice does not the NCRA is for steno (machine writers) the NVRA is for the National Voice Writers Association. Good article, however, you never mentioned the NVRA which is for Voice Writers.

    • profile image

      KRODZ 7 years ago

      I go to school for court reporting, and it's hard work,but I love it! ;)

    • sannyasinman profile image

      sannyasinman 8 years ago

      A really useful article. Thanks!

    • dusanotes profile image

      dusanotes 8 years ago from Windermere, FL

      dusanotes: thanks, but I don't need a new career. Don

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @greatAmerican: Thanks!

    • greatAmerican profile image

      greatAmerican 8 years ago

      Nicomp readers interested in this technology might want to know, a nice program to try using voice recognition software is availiable on the net for a free 30 day trial.

      I have tried it, but I am still trying to make up my mind if I want to spend $14 (purchase price after free trial). Oh yeah you can find it, google e-speaking ...

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 8 years ago

      Good career suggestions in tough times.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 8 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      Could you imagine trying to keep voice record transcriptions of Congressional debates. I think burnout would be a serious problem!!!!!!!!!!!!!