Lately I have been receiving quite a few emails and tweets from students at different court reporter schools, online and brick-and-mortar schools. There is a lot of worry about there being enough work when they finish their programs, get certified, and are professional court reporters. I received a tweet today, “Is this a good industry for me to invest in, pursue as career?”
My answer is, yes, court reporting is an excellent industry to invest in and pursue. But I do worry about people being taken advantage of. Going to a school that is state certified or has a certified program, such as the schools certified by the National Court Reporters Association, I am confident a court reporting student will get the program they need to graduate. Since I live in Southern California, I know that Sage College, South Coast College, and Bryan School of Court Reporting have excellent programs.
In California, we have a licensing board, the Court Reporters Board of California. Our CR Board has a list of schools that are certified by California. I would trust all of the schools on the list to have a realistic program that will get you where you need to go to pass the California CSR and become licensed.
What concerns me is I received an email from a student this week who is attending an online school asking me to be her mentor, writing that the school she is going to requires her to find a “mentor” to dictate live dictation to her at different speeds. She was hoping I would dictate testimony to her while she was at school. I wrote her back asking for details and didn’t hear back. I understand schools wanting their students to find mentors. I would encourage students to find mentors. I am unclear why a school would expect a student to have to find live dictation.
I am sure the majority of the court reporting students in the United States are making smart decisions, going to schools that can take them to the finals. (I liken court reporters to athletes.)
Our profession is like all professions. If you are really good at what you do, you enjoy being a court reporter, you decide you want to be the best and participate in continuing education, spend money to ensure you have the best equipment and software, and are eager to learn, you will be successful.
If you look at the glass as being half empty, that the economy sucks, you are going to have a hard time. Court reporting is a competitive, tough field. There is a reason that the top reporters make six-figure salaries. It is not because it is super easy, school is pass/no pass, or because you are certified you made it. Like anything in life, being a successful costs time, energy, talent, and attitude.
My advice to anyone wondering about court reporting as a profession: Go to a credentialed school. Work hard. Be great. Be determined. Be the best. Being a court reporter is the best profession ever. It is not easy. It is not simple. You need to understand that this is a tremendous profession not to be taken lightly.
I dropped out of my first year of college to go to court reporting school. My friends were scared for me. Why would I leave two semesters of college to go to a trade school? I received phone calls and letters from my dearest friends, begging me to graduate from SDSU with my business degree. I ignored all of them because I knew I found my passion. That was in 1979. Sure, I wish I had business classes to help me run my court reporting business, but the bottom line is, court reporting has been the most fantastic career for me. I have no regrets.
My advice: Pay attention. Go to a great school (online or not). Work hard. Don’t take the classes, speeds, or anything for granted. Be great. You will not regret it.