The National Court Reporters Association has launched its newest initiative called “Court Reporting: Take Note,” details of which can be found at www.crtakenote.com. It is designed to promote the profession to those who may be unaware of court reporting as a career choice. Court reporting is an attractive career for so many reasons. It offers a decent starting salary, flexibility, innumerable learning opportunities, and room to grow professionally. Best of all, it is estimated that 5,500 openings will be available in the next five years; and as those in the profession know, there is always a need for certified reporters.
Is court reporting a good career choice for you? Here are some traits that successful court reporters possess:
- A love of language and learning. Only reporters would have fun at all-day seminars learning and debating about grammar and punctuation! We enjoy language, vocabulary building, and word games. Court reporters have a front seat to all kinds of disputes, so every day can be a learning experience. If you listen and pay attention, it amounts to a free education. You will be exposed to medical issues, technical matters, and human nature in general. This profession satisfies the curious mind.
- Self-discipline. This trait is an absolute necessity for success in this field. From the get-go, one must make the commitment to practice daily to master theory and then gain speed even when it becomes a tedious grind. Then when you are reporting, you must stay focused and work when there may be many distractions in your life, and you will have to edit your transcripts and meet your deadlines when you would rather be shopping or going out on the town.
- Attention to detail/organizational skills. Every assignment has its own players, stipulations, and idiosyncrasies. It is up to you as the reporter to keep every detail straight on each case, which may not be easy, especially if you are working on a half dozen cases at a time. You should not rely on memory alone. Meticulous notes and exceptional organizational skills will keep everything on track and running smoothly.
- Willingness to embrace change. The court reporting field has undergone major changes throughout its history, mostly in the area of technology. Today the gold standard is providing a wireless, instantaneous voice-to-text realtime feed. Reporters who embrace the technological changes and are committed to staying abreast of the latest advances are in high demand and are well compensated for their exceptional skill. They will have job security for as long as they choose to work; however, those who do not embrace and utilize all that technology has to offer will be left behind.
- Commitment to professional development. To stay relevant in today’s market, a reporter needs to continue to improve his/her skills, attain additional certifications, and attend conferences to learn from the profession’s leaders. Learning takes many forms, so there are many ways to keep abreast of current events and broaden your horizons. The more informed you are, the more word knowledge you have, the better prepared you will be to produce a quality transcript.
As an aside, reporters who have experience playing musical instruments tend to do well in this field. Familiarity with a practice regimen, finger strength and dexterity, and eye/hand/ear coordination may be some reasons. (There is no scientific study that verifies this, but the link is well documented and is borne out by many within our ranks.)
In closing, court reporting is a demanding and challenging career, but it is also rewarding and personally fulfilling. If you are considering becoming a court reporter, I would encourage you to examine the traits mentioned above to see if you are suited for this profession in temperament, skill set, and work ethic. Because of the unique demands of a court reporting program, if you do not see a correlation, this may not be the profession for you. But if you do see these qualities in yourself, chase the dream. The profession needs you!