We all know the story of the Three Little Pigs.  The two pigs who built their houses out of straw and sticks saw them get blown down by the big bad wolf, but the third pig that built his house out of bricks was successful in keeping his house intact.  The wolf could not blow the sturdy brick house down.

The same is true of court reporting.  If you start at the beginning of your studies with a commitment to practice daily with deliberate focus, you will have a solid foundation that will serve as the cornerstone for all the successes and milestones that lie ahead.  If, on the other hand, your early efforts are weak or sporadic, your progress will be either delayed or nonexistent, and your “house” will surely fall.

Your journey will be divided into two parts:  theory and speedbuilding.  Learning your theory comes first, then speedbuilding.  Your success in building your speed depends on how well you learn your theory.  The National Court Reporters Association certifies reporters at 225 wpm.  It is a long road; commit now to master your theory inside and out so you can reach this goal!

Theory involves learning the keyboard, which is comprised of letters and a number bar.  Unlike a typewriter, where only one key at a time can be depressed, on the steno machine multiple keys can be hit at the same time.  Single keys or multiple keys in different combinations can stand for words, sounds, or phrases.  Theory determines which key combinations signify the “shun” ending, for example, or long or short vowel sounds.  If you master your theory, you will have the footing necessary to move ahead.

Why is it crucial to master your theory?  It is simple:  You will not be able to build speed if you hesitate when writing.  Your writing must become automatic.  When you hear a word, you must be able to immediately strike the correct key or keys to record it.  Hesitation will cause you to “drop” words and fall behind.  As you strive to increase your speed in the months ahead, if you have trouble recalling your theory or have difficulty implementing it, you will be in the unenviable position of writing poorly and constantly playing catch-up, a losing combination.

If you are to invest the energy, time and money to pursue a career as a court reporter, it is imperative that, from the outset, you learn and review your theory on a daily basis.   As you progress from lesson to lesson, make review of your previous lessons part of your routine practice regimen.  Strive to write cleanly all the time.  Look at your notes or screen for fingering errors and work to correct them immediately.  You are embedding words and their respective strokes in your memory bank.  Build a strong foundation that will be the base upon which you can build your victories.  Good luck!


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!

Meet Connie Psaros, Editor

This is the post excerpt.

Connie Psaros, RPR, CMRSWelcome to “Student Corner”!  My name is Connie Psaros, RPR, Vice President of Doris O. Wong Associates, Inc., and I will be responsible for the content appearing here.

Who knows better than fellow court reporters what you are going through?  If you are just starting your career, you also may find this section helpful.  Feel free to contact us if we can answer any questions or address any concerns.  We want you to succeed!

Also check out our Facebook page.  It’s loaded with lots of tech tips for court reporters, court reporting trends, grammar, and much more.