By Connie Psaros, RPR, B.S. in Education
There are not many careers that can guarantee employment and an excellent starting salary upon graduation, but court reporting is one of them. Right out of school, graduates may choose to work as freelancers, officials, CART providers, or broadcast captioners. Many reporters work in several capacities throughout their careers.
What is the best way to become successful? First and foremost, earn an NCRA certification. Not only will certification give you a confidence boost, but it gives employers a benchmark upon which to gauge your skill level and comfort knowing that you are qualified for the job. Then find mentors to guide you through the early stages of your career. Their experience will help you understand legal proceedings beyond what you have learned in school. If you follow this advice, you will be off to a running start.
Court reporters are in such high demand now, but to ensure a long-lasting career, don’t settle for mediocrity. Aspire to be a court reporter on the cutting edge. Look to the court reporters at the top of their game for inspiration, true professionals who have found the winning combination: continual skill development and software proficiency. NCRA and your state associations, as well as organizations like STAR, are there to help. They offer recurring support, education, and networking opportunities. There is always room for growth and professional development for motivated individuals. Ask reporters with advanced certifications how that has benefited their career in terms of assignments, income, and prestige.
Court reporting has undergone many revolutionary changes just in the relatively recent past. Reporters have gone from writing on manual machines with paper notes to digital writers like the Luminex and the Expression. Did you know that Stenograph has developed eight digital writers since the 1980s? The investment in hardware, software, and technology has been significant. So has the learning curve among our members. But in the end we are in a niche business that provides a service no one else can: clean realtime feeds, rough drafts, and expedited delivery. This is why our unique skills will always be in high demand, and that translates into commensurate compensation.
Reporters play a vital role in the judicial system. We are respected by members of the bar for our role in preserving the all-important record so they can represent their clients to the best of their ability. Because our profession is technology-driven, lawyers need our expertise to provide the specialized services and litigation-support products they need. In the performance of our duties, we are mindful of our responsibility. We are advocates for none but fair and impartial to all.
Keep all of this in mind as you continue your studies. Imagine the personal and professional pride that will be yours upon graduation and certification as well as the financial independence you will enjoy that comes with long-term employment. We look forward to welcoming you as a professional colleague!