Court Reporting Viewed As Good Career Choice

By Staff
May 5, 2009

A career in court reporting, say some, can allow two-year graduates to earn a salary comparable to what four-year college graduates make.

The current recession is a "golden age for court reporters," said John Brandon, owner of Brandon Smith Reporting Service LLC, who was quoted in Connecticut's The Record-Journal. Brandon addressed students at Briarwood College, which he said is the only school in New England which offers a court reporting program.

Brandon explained that the lack of schools which offer the program is very likely the result of the difficulties students face trying to complete the requirements: Court reporters must learn phonetic codes which allow them to transcribe with 99 percent accuracy before being licensed by the state. Because the program is so hard, said Brandon, only three or four students graduate out of every ten students who enroll.

"It's a big learning curve," Brandon remarked. "As the schools closed down, the demand for reporters has never been higher. Litigation has never been so complicated."

He said that the recession is providing opportunities for court reporters since there are more court cases involving bankruptcies, financial reworks and foreclosures.

He noted that freelance court reporters can earn a six-figure salary. Similarly, Teresa Evans, a court reporter from West Virginia, told the Charleston Daily Mail that expert court reporters can realize an income comparable to a college graduate while maintaining flexible hours.

"I still get up every morning and say I love it," Evans said about her job.

She has worked in her field for 30 years and said there is always demand for her skills. Court reporters are required in every legal deposition, and many are finding additional demand for their skills in television captioning and translating for deaf children in schools.

It is for this reason that Cheryl Poehls, director of Briarwood's court reporting program, is seeking a $500,000 grant from the federal government to expand traditional court reporting into closed-captioning television work.

"People don't think this is what court reporters can do," she told the Record-Journal. "I want to broaden my school to include new techniques."

Poehls also wants to purchase a large mobile screen for large events like commencements, which would allow a stenographer to assist deaf students. She has also requested aid to help students purchase equipment for the program like stenographs, which can run about $4800. U.S. Rep. John Larson has added her request to his list of $170 million in earmarks for his constituents.

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