Court reporters create transcriptions that are word-for-word at trials, depositions, and a wide variety of other legal proceedings. Some court reporters even provide captioning for television productions and translations for those who are deaf at business meetings, public events, and in classrooms. Although court reporting can be an extremely rewarding career, it’s crucial that you carefully take the time to consider whether or not it is the best path for you to take.
1. You Have the Time for Training
In order to become a court reporter, you must first participate in extensive training. To become a court reporter, you will typically need to take the following steps:
- Complete a postsecondary program—There are two main types of postsecondary programs for future court reporters. The first are certification programs that allow you to focus on a certain method of transcription and can be completed in about six months. The second is equal to an associate’s degree and usually takes two to four years to complete.
- Obtain a license—Depending on the state in which you live, you may need to pass a state-administered examine in order to become qualified to act as a court reporter.
- Earn your certification—You may find that more employment opportunities are available to you if you enhance your training and license with a certification from the National Court Reporters Association or another reputable organization.
Before deciding whether or not you want to become a court reporter, it’s crucial that you can put forth the effort and time to acquire this necessary training, licensure, and certification.
2. You Want to Work in a Controlled Work Environment
Many court reporters work for a state or local government and typically spend their days in the courtroom or in legislatures. However, some court reporters work from the comfort of their own homes or in a central office. If you are attracted to the idea of working in a professional and controlled environment on a daily basis, court reporting may be a good fit.
3. You’re Ready to Get into a Field That Will Grow
When a field is growing, there is more room for advancement, pay increases, and opportunities. If you want to get into a career that is projected to expand, court reporting may be a good option for you. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that between the years 2012 and 2012, employment opportunities for court reporters is expected to grow about 10 percent.
Additionally, you should consider becoming a court reporter if you desire to make a respectable wage. The BLS also estimates that the median salary for court reporters is $48,160.
4. You Want to Learn
As a court reporter, you will never stop learning. Oftentimes, you will learn something new every day. For example, if you are assigned to report on a case during a doctor’s deposition, you may learn about basic anatomy while they are describing an injury that the defendant incurred. Or, if you are working on a workers’ compensation case, you may learn more about employment law and what it entails. Over time, your breadth of knowledge about a variety of different topics may increase immensely if you choose to become a court reporter.
5. You Want to be Unique
It’s not every day that you come across someone who is a court reporter. This occupation is extremely unique because learning to write steno is comparable to speaking an entirely different language. This is something that not many people know how to do. Plus, the career is extremely flexible if you choose to freelance. As a freelance court reporter, you may find that you can go to various offices to take testimony or appear in court, and then return home to transcribe. If you want to acquire a prestigious career that pays well but also allows you to throw in a load of laundry or pick up your kids in between transcriptions, this may be the career for you.
With flexibility, prestige, and good pay, what’s not to like about court reporting? However, before you pursue this occupation as your career, it’s also important to consider its challenges. For example, since court reporting is a highly skilled task, witnesses, lawyers, and other legal personnel often rely on you to accurately transcribe important and sensitive information. Due to this, you may feel an immense of amount of pressure to do your duties as accurately as possible on a daily basis. However, every career has its disadvantages, and the benefits of becoming a court reporter arguably outweigh its few downfalls.