The Life of a Court Reporter

Court Reporting is one of those professions that, if you can do it and stick with it, you will be forever thankful that you did. I would never have had the life I’ve lived if I had not chosen this profession life of a court reporterfrom an early age.

In high school, like so many other students, I had no idea what direction to go in. No real strong passions, at least none that wouldn’t involve seven or more years of college. Oh, but there was one talent that I had. I had taken piano lessons since I was seven years old and truly loved playing. When I saw the steno machine for the first time, it really was love at first sight. And then when I found out I’d only have to go to college for two years, I was sold. But it was only after I entered my profession that I saw what an incredible choice I had made.

  • Time off – No problem!
  • Vacations – Any time!
  • Motherhood – Perfect fit!

All of this and good money? Yes. Not to mention the education you get with the wide variety of cases you will handle and the possibility of working at your own pace into your seventies. However, at the risk of losing your interest, I will now disclose some of the hardships.

Getting through Court Reporting school, there is about a five-percent success rate. During drills, imagine solidly concentrating from five to ten minutes without letting another thought come into your mind (for example, I hope I’m getting this!). Practice, practice, practice. If you don’t start Court Reporting school right out of high school and you’re already working, you can pretty much forget about getting through it. And then there’s those times when you’re terrific at home and then freeze up when being tested at school. If you lose your concentration for just two seconds, you will miss multiple words and fail your speed test.

Then there are the times when you’ll want to quit. There were countless days when I would go home and write letters to the attorneys explaining to them that proper procedure would be to ensure they have a clear record. To not talk over each other. To not talk under their breath. To SLOW DOWN. I mean, it is their record that they’re making. Why should I feel all the responsibility of getting everything down when it is not properly executed? Of course, I never sent any of these letters, but it truly did make me feel better.

I was the most grateful that I kept working as a reporter when I had my children. Since most of the work is done at home, you can go out for a couple hours a day and then come home to prepare your transcripts during nap time, or in the evening, and make money while raising your children.

The technological advancements of this profession have been astronomical. When I first started reporting, I used a typewriter with carbon paper, turning each fold of the steno paper one-by-one. Then, of course, copy machines came around and I was using the IBM Correcting Selectric; however, still manually turning the folds. In busier times, I would dictate into a tape-recorder and have a typist prepare the transcript, after which I would have to proofread it myself. Fast-forward to today’s amazing technology where the steno notes and audio files are uploaded onto a computer, and all we have to do is edit the transcript and then email it off to a proofreader. To be in a profession that has embraced technology the way Court Reporting has is further conviction that we are some of the luckier ones.

At the present time, there is a huge shortage of reporters. The average age is 54 years old. This is as a result of students not going into the field for fear of being replaced by voice recognition (electronic reporting). And now, because we don’t have enough reporters, many agencies are having to use electronic reporting technology. This, I believe, is a bizarre twist of fate.

So if you like a challenge and you’re a tenacious person, please consider Court Reporting as a lifelong, rewarding career as I have, and am very thankful that I did.

Donna Cimino, President