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What Does a Typist Do?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 18 August 2014
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A typist earns money by typing for others. People in this profession may find a wide range of jobs available to them, ranging from those requiring secretarial work to those involving transcription. A typist may also find employment opportunities in data entry. Some typists works in offices, stores, and other business organizations while others start their own businesses, working from home.

When an individual or company needs a professional-looking document produced, he may turn to a professional typist. This person typically types very quickly and with a high rate of accuracy, producing typed documents with little-to-no errors. In addition to typing skills, a typist often has skills and knowledge important in producing professional-looking documents. For example, he may have extensive knowledge of formatting requirements for different types of documents, such as business letters, legal forms, and college essays. In some cases, he may also have legal or medical terminology experience, which opens the door to transcription opportunities.

Sometimes typists work with college students, who write essays but don’t have the time or desire to type them. In some cases, students may type so slowly and with so many errors that paying a professional is a less frustrating alternative. When a student hires a typist, he may expect him to create footnotes and citations based on the requirements his professor has set.

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A typist may type documents while listening to the in-person dictation of a business, legal, or medical professional. Sometimes, however, a typist may type a document while listening to a recording his client or employer provided. This is referred to as transcription. A typist may even attend meetings or legal proceedings and type what happens during the meetings. He may type certain parts of the proceeding or make a word-for-word record of it.

A person with good typing skills may also find work from companies that need data entry help. In these positions, a person types data into forms on a computer system or online. For example, a company that processes orders for goods and services may require data entry help. Likewise, companies that set appointments, make collection calls, or process complaints may need such help as well.

Before computers were commonplace in homes and businesses, typists may have been more in demand. Today, many people have access to computers and word processing programs that make producing typed documents easier. Still, typists can find work among those who consider typing their documents too time-consuming or simply want documents that are free of errors.

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lovealot
Post 14

There are a lot of typing jobs available if you are willing to work on temporary and freelance jobs. Many companies, big and small, experience times when they have many documents or other forms that need to be typed.

Any number of organizations and self-employed people need someone to type up various things. Believe it or not, quite a few people have not learned commuter word processing skills, and need someone to type for them.

Speed, good grammar, accuracy, and proficiency in word processing are necessary skills.

BabaB
Post 13

@blackDagger - So some court reporters can type 225 words per minute. It does sound impossible, doesn't it? But I think that they use some sort of a machine where the words are recording in a different way than a typewriter or computer.

I know it takes a lot of practice and classes to become proficient.

One of my first jobs was working in a law office as a typist. I used an electric typewriter and a dictaphone machine. Half the time I couldn't hear or understand what my boss was saying over the dictaphone, and I kept having to wind it back. Then my typing was full of erasures and white-outs. Often I had to start over. Thank heaven for computers!

blackDagger
Post 12

@surfNturf – Wow! 225 words per minute! Really? I had no idea that was even possible.

Now, I am really fast typist and can get close to 100 words per minute on a good day, though most of the time I take it easy at about 70 or 80. But 225 words sounds plain impossible, doesn’t it?

I went through a lot of training to become a medical transcriptionist, and I know that about 60 to 70 words per minute was actually more than acceptable. Of course, the longer you do it, the faster you become.

I just cannot imagine my fingers going much faster than they go right now. Wow is all that I know to say!

orangey03
Post 11

While I was working as a receptionist and general assistant at a veterinary clinic, the vet decided to finally convert all of his paper files to electronic ones. Though some people would find that task daunting and even tedious, I was overjoyed at the chance to type all of that information.

I had to take all of the patient’s files and enter information like their names, owners, and medical histories into the computer. I set up a template and went to it. It took me a whole week to do in my spare time at work, but it was a very fun week for me. The vet told me that I would be his typist for any future job he needed done.

shell4life
Post 10

@kylee07drg - I know what you mean about being tempted to edit. I’ve always been great at grammar, so when my best friend asked me to type up her novel, I asked her if she would like my editing skills thrown in for free.

She accepted, and I was glad, because I fixed a lot of issues for her. In addition to several misspellings, she had problems with verb tense, preposition usage, and several other things. The story itself was great, and I’m glad I was able to make it come across that way.

If she had refused my editing service, I still would have typed it for her, because I am addicted to typing. I seriously sometimes just type for fun. She didn’t know that she was doing me a favor by giving me something worthwhile to type!

kylee07drg
Post 9

I earned a little extra cash in high school by typing up other student’s essays. I am a natural born editor, so it was tough for me to leave the mistakes in there, but to change their papers would have been cheating, and the teachers would have noticed a C student’s perfect paper and questioned it.

I got paid $10 for every 5 pages that I typed. That doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but at the time, $10 was enough to get a good meal or a cute dress. Plus, I usually typed about 5 papers during each assignment.

StarJo
Post 8

I worked as a typist for an author I knew for many years. I had always enjoyed typing whenever I had to, such as in school. Typing class was my favorite, because I got to do nothing but practice the whole time.

I fall into such an easy rhythm when typing. I even catch myself spelling out my thoughts mentally on the keyboard sometimes. So, I knew I was perfect for the job.

The author would give me a few chapters at a time handwritten on notebook paper. I could go through them very quickly. I really enjoyed forming the words with my fingers and seeing them appear on the page.

SarahSon
Post 7

With the use of computers, a typists job is much easier than it used to be. I worked as a typist at my very first job, and I remember using white out every time I made a mistake.

Sometimes the mistakes were big enough that you had to start a whole page over again. This ended up being quite time consuming. Word processing and computers have made a typists job so much easier.

Now I work transcribing medical records from home. This job involves a lot of typing, and the faster and more accurate you can type, the smoother your job goes for you.

I think there will always be a demand for typists because of the importance of having records. I don't think that voice command will take the place of a person actually typing up the information.

honeybees
Post 6

When I was going to school, I made some extra money by being a typist. I found out there were a lot of people on my dorm floor who did not know how to type very well, or didn't want to be bothered by it.

I offered to type up their college papers and my part time business grew from there. I put up some signs around the campus and soon I was as busy as I wanted to be.

This was a great way to earn extra money while I was in college, and I could do it on my own time and work around my exams and study time.

I didn't continue doing this once I graduated from college, but I always enjoy sitting down and doing some typing. Some people get stressed out by this, but I find it very relaxing.

Even when I was making some money being a typist in college, it was something I always enjoyed doing.

bagley79
Post 5

Even before the use of computers and word processing, I have always enjoyed typing. It is something that comes easy for me, and I became a fairly fast and accurate typist.

I don't know if it is something that I would like to do all day long for a living though. When I was in college, I worked for a summer in a hospital and saw first hand what a typical typists day was like.

These women listened to dictation from the doctors on their headphones, and typed up their dictation for medical records. I am sure the subject matter that you are typing makes a difference in how interesting your job would be, but I don't know if I could sit all day long and just type.

These women had medical training so they were familiar with medical terminology, but their main job was to type up the medical records. It is an important job that must be done, and I can see how it would be a good job for those who had the right skills.

cafe41
Post 4

@SurfNTurf -I think that with changes in technology there might be weakening demand for transcription services going forward. There are many dictation machines available that essentially limit the need for a transcriptionist.

I do see a growing need for typists in small businesses which explains the rise in the virtual assistants businesses. Companies will always need typists to draft memos so there will always be a need for administrative assistants.

I think that a great way to break into this field is by working with a temp agencies and doing various short term assignments in order to gain experience. I also think that taking a course in the latest office software is a must.

surfNturf
Post 3

I just wanted to say that I have always wanted to work in legal transcription. I think that it would be fascinating to be a court reporter and transcribed legal documents all day long. I read that in order to get a certification for legal transcription, you have to be able to type 225 words per minute.

I don’t know how these typists develop such a speed. I think that the most that I can type in 50 words per minute and I thought that that was fast. That is the only aspect of the job that really intimidates me from going to school for a position like this. I don't think that I could ever type that fast.

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