Why is a stenographic career in court reporting or captioning a legitimate option over a 4-year degree?

We understand that the concept of a four-year college experience has a lot of attraction for students. (watch TV news segment) But the reality is that many students emerge from college without a defined career path and with crippling debt from tuition of up to $250,000. Court reporting education, on the other hand, is far less expensive and, for those who complete school, there is a virtual guarantee of a great job, a defined career path, and long-term opportunity for career growth.

Will the profession be around in 20 years?

Certainly you’ll hear stories of electronic recording in court systems. But court reporters remain the overwhelming preference within the legal system and are the dominant method for creating the record in pre-trial depositions. Pre-trial depositions are far more frequent than trials and hearings in courtrooms and are forecast to increase in the years ahead. The overwhelming – almost exclusive – choice for creating the record in depositions is the stenographic court reporter.  And when you combine a high-tech career with a stenographic skill, you’ve got the perfect match:  captioning.  Yes, it’s a stenographer’s fast fingers that create the captions you see on live television events such as the news or sports.  We’re in greater demand than ever before.

If this profession is so great, why is there such a shortage?

There are at least a few reasons. First, for whatever reason, court reporting often is perceived as a blue-collar or clerical position, and that is simply a mischaracterization of a profession that is professional, high-paying, and surrounded with technology. Second, there is another perception that technology will replace court reporters, which is simply a fallacy. There is nothing in our lifetimes that will replace the human brain in synthesizing language and converting it to written text. Period. Third, getting through school is hard and often the wrong type of students enroll – those who aren’t prepared for the academic rigor or the time commitment – so there is a high drop-out rate.

Court reporting schools experience a high dropout rate. Why?

A lot of students in court reporting school drop out early on. Why? Because they start school without understanding what it takes to succeed.   You need A’s to pass in court reporting school, not B’s or C’s. But we’ve got you covered!  You can get a taste of court reporting (it’s free!) to see if you like it. That’s the purpose of Project Steno’s Basic Training program. Bottom line, you can become a court reporter or captioner if you’re willing to work – and the payoff is huge: lifetime job security, a well-paid job in a white collar profession, and no student debt!

What’s the skill set I need?

Got good language skills?  Check. Got good keyboard skills, like typing, texting? Check. Are you willing to put in the work and dedicate yourself to learning? You know, all the usual virtues that make somebody successful in school.

Here’s the good news: If you check off all the right boxes, you’re somebody we want, because you are most likely to succeed! That’s the promise of Project Steno: We’ll help you make the right career choice, we’ll help you find the right school, and we’ll help pay the bills with our Merit Award program.

How do I get started?

Enroll in Project Steno’s FREE Basic Training program (found at the Getting Started page of this website).  By the end of this hands-on course, you’ll know whether you like it and have aptitude for it.  If it’s right for you, great!   We’ll help you enroll in a steno school.  Don’t think it’s your cup of tea?  Okay, now you know – and you’ll figure it out with no financial commitment and minimal investment of time.

What is Project Steno’s Basic Training program?

Basic Training is taught by volunteer court reporters nationwide. Weeknight or weekend sessions are available and begin every couple of weeks.  Basic Training allows prospective students to learn about court reporting and captioning over a three- to six-week period without making a financial or life commitment. Students are provided with the use of a stenographic machine and taught rudimentary steno (machine shorthand). The entire goal is to see whether students have a proclivity and an interest in this career BEFORE they make the full commitment to school.  Inquire at BasicTraining@ProjectSteno.org.

Do I need a steno machine to participate in these introductory programs?

Yes, but in most cases, the volunteers running the program will coordinate for students to get their hands on a steno machine to borrow during the program.

How much does school cost?

A student who completes court reporting school in two to three years, which is about the time frame for successful students, the cost is generally in the $20,000 range including tuition, equipment and fees.  

How long does it take to complete school?

Court reporting is different in that students work toward speed and accuracy thresholds for capturing and converting speech to text rather than merely earning a certain amount of credits for completing courses. For some students, completing school can take as little as two years. For others, it’s three or four years. There are no guarantees.  That’s why Project Steno believes participation in an introductory program to test a student’s proclivity and interest for court reporting or captioning before enrolling in school is such a great idea.

What is the purpose of Project Steno?

Quite simply, the concept is to ensure that more qualified students enroll in school so that more court reporters/captioners complete school and enter the workforce. Project Steno aims to introduce prospective students to the profession and provide tuition relief through Merit Awards.  Project Steno also provides guidance and mentoring to students to help them get through school.

How is Project Steno funded?

Project Steno relies exclusively on contributions from the court reporting/captioning community for its operations. Most of the contributions arrive from court reporting firms who not only have a passion for their profession, but have a strong business interest in seeing more court reporters emerge from school.

Are there good jobs available when students get out of school?

It is virtually guaranteed that a student who emerges from court reporting school will have a great job waiting for him or her. The compensation is good. The long-term career-path provides multiple options. And because there is a need for court reporters in all corners of the country – and even abroad – it is a job that can literally take you almost anywhere.