Have you been looking for a unique career? Do you love the fast-paced environment of a courtroom? If you would like to work in such an environment but lack the qualifications to be an attorney or judge, why not consider court reporting? Court reporters are an integral part of the justice process that are right in the middle of the action but do not require as much training as attorneys or judges. However, like any other career, you must consider some important information before embarking on your career.
- The Job Outlook
Court reporting pays fairly well with people earning an average of $49,500 in 2015. However, the field isn’t one that is growing quickly. In 2014, there were only about 21,000 court reporting jobs in the United States and only about 300 more are expected to be added by 2024. If you choose to go to school to learn how to be a court reporter, you should do it because you truly love the work, not because you expect to find a wide variety of job opportunities. Court reporting is often most successful for people who are excellent musicians or linguists as they find it easier to pick up the training and graduate more quickly.
- The Right School
If you decide to continue with your goal of becoming a court reporter, it is important to choose the right school to complete your training. A good court reporting school will have experienced instructors who have actually worked as court reporters themselves and can offer “inside information” about how the job works. Never choose a school that doesn’t offer hands-on training. You simply won’t learn as much as you would if you can learn the trade on an actual stenography machine that uses captioning software. The technology has changed over the years, so ensure you go to a school that offers the most updated machines and software, which ensures you are fully prepared to find a career in the field once you graduate. If you can’t afford to pay for school out of pocket, be sure to choose an accredited school that allows you to qualify for financial aid. However, keep in mind that you will need to pay back a government school loan once you graduate.
- The Career Costs
You aren’t finished spending money on your career as soon as you graduate. To work as a court reporter, you must provide your own equipment. A professional steno writer usually costs about $6,000. In addition, you must purchase a laptop, the software and a printer. In most states, you must also pay your certification fees and notary fees. Most people spend around $11,000 to begin their career. If you are 100 percent positive you will graduate, you may consider purchasing the equipment before you graduate to help you through school and ensure you are prepared. However, about 90 percent of students decide not to finish their court reporting education, so consider carefully before spending money on your own equipment.
- How to be Successful
An excellent education and professional equipment are only two components to your success. Because you will be working in courtrooms, ensure you have a professional wardrobe. Men should wear suits and women should wear professional dresses or pantsuits. Avoid dressing too casually or provocatively. In addition to a winning wardrobe, you may want to purchase diction material and a scopist. Finally, Searchmaster and your own Wi-Fi connection, which you can usually secure through your mobile phone plan, will allow you to look up information quickly during your breaks. Searchmaster also allows you to search your past transcripts for relevant names or terms.
Before choosing to go to court reporting school, you may want to determine how popular the career is in your area. Because it has a slow growth rate, you may find that moving is required to get a job in the field. Many court reporters choose to supplement their income by providing closed caption or related services.