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Courtroom scribe

Throughout the job market’s slow recovery from the recession, nursing and other patient care jobs continued to be a bright spot in hiring. That was, of course, no help for people who had zero interest in hands-on health care.

Similarly, news that engineering companies begged for engineers, utility companies needed linemen, and high-tech manufacturers were desperate for good workers didn’t help people who were never, ever going to be engineers, linemen or experts in cutting-edge shop floor mechanics.

Thousands of “fuzzy study” college graduates who felt more comfortable with words than scientific formulas took jobs as baristas, bartenders, retail clerks and child care workers. Here, though, are two job opportunities that should speak to “word people” — medical scribe or court reporter. The first is a relatively new job description. The second is an old profession with new ways to do it.

If you gravitate toward “Grey’s Anatomy” instead of “The Good Wife, ” you might be a medical scribe candidate. You could become a physician’s assistant, taking on-the-spot notes while the doctor administers patient care. The job category is growing because of documentation demands in the world of electronic health records.

Competition for medical scribe jobs is fairly tough in some locations, partly because some medical school candidates are using the position as a steppingstone to augment their applications. But it’s also a stand-alone career in itself.

If you’re into courtroom drama, consider the timeless discipline of court reporting. The field continues to reinvent itself as technology creates new ways to take and transcribe what occurs in court proceedings as well as other instances in which verbatim records must be kept.

“Many out-of-work college graduates would do well to look into this field, as we have more openings nationwide than we can fill, ” said Donna Cascio, a court reporter in Pennsylvania, who wrote to me with an overview of that profession. “My profession has morphed from a typewriter/carbon paper career into a high-tech one, employing computer-aided transcription and real-time viewing, bringing the spoken word instantaneously into view on a computer screen or iPad in a courtroom, a lawyer’s deposition suite or on a TV screen with closed captioning.”

Take note of the last option. The job isn’t just about legal work. It’s also about improving communication for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Opportunities in these two jobs remind me of another field that’s open to many “word” graduates — translation and interpretation. For bilingual people or people who did a fine job majoring (or maybe even minoring) in a foreign language, there are multiple ways to earn money. Translation needs cross all professions, including education, health care, business services and the highest level of sciences.

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