Pros and Cons of a Career in Court Reporting

Court reporting is a profession that has existed for decades. But with ever-advancing technology, will this profession survive? All of the information we have been able to gather about this career has lead us to one simple conclusion: “Yes, there will be a constant and unyielding demand for court reporters for decades to come.” The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics also agrees. The BLS reports that the demand for qualified court reporters will grow by 14% between the years 2010 and 2020. While consistently growing, court reporting is a profession that is also going through an evolution. The demand for word-for-word transcriptions of legal proceedings will always be required. But the need for individuals who can produce verbatim transcripts in non-legal industries is becoming increasingly more common. Workers with Closed Captioning/Real Time (“CART”) skills are in high demand by television networks and similar organizations that produce transcripts for deaf and hearing-impaired individuals. These types of employers, plus the usual suspects like law firms and court reporting agencies, hire many of the students that graduate from accredited stenography schools. The most important thing to remember about this career is that it is not for everyone. Just as there are pros and cons to every profession, court reporting is no exception. To be successful in this industry, you must be particularly detail oriented, be extremely dedicated to your job, and have an intense interest in the production of error-free work. Here are a few of the pros and cons of working as a court reporter:

Pros

Legal Interests: If you have a sincere interest in the legal industry, this career may be great option for you. As a court reporter, you will learn legal terminology and you will become an expert in legal processes. You will also play an important professional role at trials, depositions, and all other types of legal proceedings. Job Outlook and Salary: This is an industry that is projected for significant growth. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for court reporters is $48,530 – but the top 10% can earn more than $90,000 per year. A Portable Career: If you are trained and qualified, you should be able to find a job anywhere in the United States. Depending on your specialty, you may even be able to work from an in-home office since a good percentage of reporters work as freelancers. Training Can Be Accomplished Relatively Fast: Many court reporting schools offer training and/or certificate programs that can be completed in two years or less.

Cons

Work Hours: There are times in a court reporter’s career when odd work hours will be required. While most courtrooms are open during regular business hours, depositions can take place during early morning or late evening hours. Therefore, the ability to have a flexible schedule is important. Sitting for Extended Periods of Time: If you are unable to sit in one position for an extended period of time, this profession may not be the best choice for you. You will be able to take infrequent breaks. Accuracy: A successful career requires a person to be extremely detail oriented and accurate. Additionally, you must be able to listen to people talking and also use a stenotype machine consecutively. These are skills that not everybody can achieve. Certification Requirements: Court Reporter certification requirements vary by state. Therefore, you may have to pass an exam before being able to work. To get more information on this career, different types of reporters, and training options you can find over 50 court reporting articles here.

How to Choose a Court Reporter School

Before enrolling in a school or training program, do your homework. Make sure this is absolutely the career path you want to follow. There are quite a few court reporting schools from which to choose. Each one provides its own unique program. While most schools offer similar types of courses, it is important to select one that is accredited and approved by the National Court Reporters Association. Other factors to consider are whether or not the school offers scholarships or financial aid. Additionally, many schools require students to purchase or lease expensive equipment. If you are up for a demanding yet fulfilling career, investing in a formal court reporting education will be worthwhile. Keep in mind that many employers require a degree or certificate from an accredited institution before they will consider a person for employment. Melanie Fischer is a writer for CourtReportingSchoolsOnline.net, a website that provides information on state court reporter certification requirements, links to state board websites and local associations, articles, salary data, definitions, and a directory of campus and online court reporting schools. Image Credit: Shutterstock

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