No matter how technology, including speech-to-text programs, eliminates the need for some skills, the need for a person, operating a stenographic machine and other recording devices, is still necessary to accurately capture history in the making. If you thought court reporting is an old-fashioned, boring job, you’re half right!
Court reporting is certainly old-fashioned because its roots are in ancient times, as world leaders sought better ways to preserve the true treasures of our history. “From the stylus on wax used in the Roman Senate, to the quill pen of the 18th century, to the mechanical pen of the 19th century, shorthand artisans have occupied front-row seats at historic events,” says the New York State Court Reporters Association (NYSCRA). “Today’s artisans use that odd-looking, high-tech digital writing device to create text immediately and can simultaneously transmit it worldwide.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a majority of court reporters work for state or local government in courts or legislatures. However, some work from either their home or a central office providing broadcast captioning for television stations or for hard-of-hearing individuals. You may not have to travel every week for work, but there’s truly nothing boring about New York or about being an NY court reporter!
The Reality of Court Reporting
You’ve seen the dramatic courtroom scene in movies and on television. There sits the court reporter, typing away, without a single spoken line. However, court reporters have to shake off whatever stage fright they may have, because often they will be called upon to read-back what they just typed. In a monotone, of course. The first time might be scary, but you’ll become more relaxed each time until it’s exactly what it is – not a “performance,” just part of the job.
Becoming a court reporter is one of the most sought-after careers, especially in New York, where there are more than 300 separate appellate, federal, superior and lesser courts employing court reporters who have the highest salaries in the U.S. A full-time NY court reporter may stop off to get a bagel on the way to work, arriving in court before 9:00 a.m. He or she might be thinking about the continuing education credits, and considering attending one or two seminars at this year’s NYSCRA conference in White Plains for Professional Development Credit (PDCs).
Every NY court reporter can work either full-time, freelance or both, and sometimes they have so much work that they in turn hire freelance scopists (someone who edits court reports) and proofreaders to expedite the jobs. After working several hours in the courtroom, a court reporter often returns home to work on transcripts, which is considered freelance time; your fees may be different from your court salary and bill directly to clients for this independent contractor type of work.
Of his day-to-day worklife, one court reporter said, “When I’m in trial doing dailies, I make it a rule to go to bed at 10:00 p.m. while my scopists and proofreaders work through the night and turn in a final product by 6:00 a.m. I get up at 5:30, shower, then I’m in my home office preparing the final transcript and get it sent to the attorneys by 7:00 a.m., then I print all the copies and leave for work by 8:00 a.m. When I’m not in trial, I get to relax at home like regular 9-to-5ers.”
Be a Part of It: NY Court Reporter
An NY court reporter may not work in a courtroom at all. With additional training, some court reporters specialize in closed captioning, broadcast captioning and/or CART (Communications Access Realtime Translation) reporting. You may be required to attend sporting events, political rallies or work at a television network for real time translation of spoken words to text. Perhaps you’ll work at home, transcribing movie dialogue or captioning real time webinars for hearing-impaired internet class attendees.
Some of us believe living and working in New York is as good as it gets! If you believe that too, then go beyond dreaming and take action. A Real Time Court Reporter Associate Degree (AOS) and the Stenotype Hearing Reporter Certificate will be your ticket to the best show in town – your own.