The Exciting Career of Court Reporting


Paradigm President Jan Ballman returned to her alma mater today, St. Agnes High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, to talk to students about considering court reporting as a career in conjunction with the first-ever National Court Reporting & Captioning Week.

Court reporting, it seems, is a rather misunderstood profession.   For the life of some, they can’t understand why, with today’s technology, there could really still be a need for someone to sit at that strange little machine and type in order to make a record.  After all, look how far voice recognition technology has come, they will say!

Well, the answer is simple, if not profound:  The court reporting industry has also changed with the times and advanced with technology to remain as relevant today as the premier makers of the record as they have always been.   To quote from Jan Ballman’s blog post from earlier this week, there is still no substitute for a live court reporter.   The human element is crucial to not only capturing the record but protecting it.   Software is incapable of performing these human functions.   Says Ballman, “While there have, indeed, been impressive strides in software arenas, court reporters and captioners always have been and still remain the most reliable, the most accurate and the most efficient means of making any record.”

The path to a court reporting career is not an easy one.   Learning the language of the steno machine and building the speed and accuracy required to graduate is rigorous coursework, to say the least.   This is reflected in the exceptionally high attrition rates in the court reporting program as compared to other professions.  But good things do come to those who persevere!

For successful graduates, there are many ways in which their newly acquired skill set can be leveraged.    Perhaps you work in a county or federal courthouse capturing the record in high-profile and important court cases.   Or maybe you choose the freelance arena, where each day is different.  One day you may be taking a deposition downtown, the next day you may have a day to work in your home office, the following day you may asked to go to the state penitentiary and capture the testimony of an incarcerated witness.   Or perhaps, as happened to one of our reporters, your assignment for the day is to report a deposition in the Kardashian divorce matter.   Maybe your affinity for sports or the news sends you in the closed-captioning arena.   Or maybe you decide you’d like to be a CART reporter…someone who actually listens for Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing students in classroom settings and provides verbatim realtime notes for students who cannot hear the instructor.

Court reporting remains a highly regarded, highly rewarding, highly paid profession.  If you’re from Minnesota and are interested in a court reporting career, please contact Jennifer Sati at Anoka Technical College.