The student who begins to study reporting, like most people, usually knows very little about what the profession really entails, what jobs exist, or how one goes about getting into the field. Somewhere he or she may have heard that court reporting is a job in which you can “make a lot of money!” What they have not heard is what they need to do to get to the point of earning money-how much schooling is required; nor are they aware of how much dedication is required to become a professional, well-paid court reporter. The following list contains some facts about the field of court reporting. You will find most of them very positive, while others you may find a little difficult.
Initial cost of education to enter this field is low when compared to other professions. You will find that you will need far less of an investment in time or money to enter the field of court reporting than to enter other professional fields. Doctors, lawyers, and engineers spend many years in preparation. Then, when they enter private practice, they work many years to build up the business.With the skills you have developed and your computer input machine, you will enter a high-paying field as a professional. You will have many opportunities to use your skills in various legal and nonlegal settings.
Reporting can be very exciting and fascinating work. As a reporter, you will meet and learn from famous people, professionals, blue-collar workers, merchants, farmers, oil drillers, entrepreneurs, the highly literate, and the most illiterate-people from every type of background imaginable.In what other field of work could you ever absorb so much, perform such great service in our country’s legal processes, be present during the making of history and record it being made, and have such a fascinating time doing it?
Reporting is one of the few professions that does not discriminate. Reporting is the one profession where women earn the same pay as men; and no discrimination exists as to race, color, creed, national origin, or sexual orientation. Within reason, as long as you can do the work that you are required to do, employers do not care if you are from Mars, Jupiter, or Venus! Keep in mind, though, the earlier comments about professional appearance and how important that is.
Court reporting is a not a routine job. A court reporter is not bound by an 8:00 to 5:00 schedule. In the beginning, you may have to spend more than eight hours a day; but if this profession is for you, you will love every interesting minute of it. How much more time the work will take will depend upon your own situation, how organized you are, and what talent you bring to the profession. Some freelance reporting firms allow reporters to work a variety of hours during the day. Some days they will work for 10 or 12 hours, and other days they can take time off.
Not all reporting involves intriguing cases of murder and rape. Perhaps your ideas of what a reporter does are founded mainly on what you have seen in courtroom related television shows. Much of what reporters will report will be exciting and dramatic, but remember that some material may be dull such as condemnation suits where the reporter will be writing figures and land descriptions over lengthy periods. Like any profession, every minute of the day is not all fun and excitement. Every profession has its dull moments; but, being a professional, you will take the good with the bad; you will take the excitement with the drudgery.
The schooling to become a court reporter can be very demanding. Reporting is still a profession that can be entered upon completion of a reasonable period of study. Recent studies have shown that the average length of time spent in school is 31 months. Studies have also shown a very high drop-out rate; that is students who start a court reporting program but never complete it. The reasons for this high drop-out rate are many: lack of motivation on the part of the student, lack of discipline, getting side-tracked into other areas, and personal problems. However, anyone who knows what he or she wants in life and sets out to achieve it in an orderly way should not have a problem. If you know that you want to become a reporter-just do it, but do it right! The National Court Reporters Association is formulating plans to require a four-year college degree for Registered Professional Reporters by the year 2006. This requirement would increase the amount of time that students have to acquire the skills necessary to enter reporting. You must select an approved, reputable court reporting school where you can devote yourself to practicing. Ask a number of reporters which are the better schools. They will be more than happy to tell you.
Reporters can earn good money; however, only the competent reporters who work hard will earn high incomes. Avoid assuming that you are going to graduate from a court reporting school and immediately begin to make more money than a lawyer or judge. As in every profession, you must first prove yourself. If you are good at what you do, lawyers will request your services. If you are a good, competent reporter, you are going to be very busy. If you are mediocre, you will not be busy, and you will not be respected by members of the profession. Remember also that you will earn money exactly in proportion to how hard you work. Hard work and diligence do payoff. You would not begrudge a doctor who charges for using the skills that he or she acquired in his or her years of training. Nor would you deny paying an engineer or lawyer their rightful income. So it may be true that good reporters earn a sizeable income, but they work hard for it and, most importantly, they deserve it.