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I have been a Paralegal/Legal Asst. for 12 years. I would love to get in the court reporting field. I live just outside of Tampa, Florida. I was just wondering if anyone can give me any tips or suggestions on court reporting. Do you make decent money, are there jobs available, how flexible is it? Also if you could recommend an accredited school. I did a few search and the local school that it is suggesting on the National CRS does not list CR as one of their options.
I would appreciate any help I can get.
I don't know anything about Florida. But since you are interested, I would go to a good school, spend about 2 or 3 years studying. You should be able to write 225 at least and write a realtime-ready theory. Unfortunately, with the economy things are slow. But if you are really good you should find work. If you can write realtime, your skills will be in demand.
About the first five years of your career will be getting used to the job and still improving your skill, even though you are out of school. You learn a lot on the job, stuff you can't learn in school.
Also wages for court reporters haven't risen in 15 years. In fact, some say they are going backwards. Still if you work full time you should make 50,000 to 80,000. If you work REALLY hard you can make more. (But I live in California so maybe things are different here.) Eventually you could own your own agency, I suppose, and the sky is the limit.
For much of my career I've worked 10 hours days and a lot of weekend work, too. But if you don't want to work that hard, you can pay people to edit and proofread your work. (lessens your profit)
Now, if you do depos, you are self-employed, no benefits, no health care, no vacations. So 100,000 becomes 70,000 when you have to pay for your own retirement and healthcare.
You can work in court, which I know little about.
The most important thing is to be highly skilled and you will find work.
Just had to say everything you said is so true. I'm still trying to work my way back to the money I made in 1991.
I am in Tampa. Irwin Votec teaches court reporter. It's a fairly decent cost too.
Getting a job in Tampa is a lot of competition, but you could do okay. You will really need to pass the RPR.
When I first started 10+ years ago, I was told that I could make $40K entry level my first year; I did a lot better than that in the first six months. But I'm in CA, and that was when there was virtually no competition, the economy was booming and getting, at least, four to five calls a day from different firms to cover jobs. Yes, competition means it would be difficult to get jobs.
To me, not ever having been a paralegal, of course, I think a paralegal background would help you with terminology and probably the deposition/discovery process, but I think they are worlds apart as far as what is required to perform paralegal work vs. court reporting. Being a court reporter is a very physical and mental job. I think paralegal works is more mental than physical.
It's at Erwin. It's under Technical, but it is not listed. Go to the website, look under ADMISSIONS, look under PROGRAMS WITH SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS.
I have been both: court reporter, legal secretary, paralegal. And I am going back to court reporter. It's rough in Tampa, period. If you have a good job right now, don't let it go.
The program at Erwin is very reasonable. If you can, go down, talk to the Admissions and bet the brochure information. The court reporting department itself is on the second floor. Wouldn't hurt to take a day off from work and use it.
Quyen is right. Your legal background will be a tremedous help to you.
Word of caution: Keep your dreams and your business to yourself - don't tell anyone you work with. No one at work will "celebrate" your achievements. Other paralegals and secretaries will be jelous. If you have an office manager that doesn't like you, she could use your going to school as a way to get rid of you.
Sorry, April. But I have worked at Ruden and FWBB, and people get nasty.
It seems like Florida is one of the places where reporters are having a hard time getting work. You might need to be willing to relocate after your training. North Florida might be better than south. I'm not sure about Tampa. You should contact some court reporting firms in your area and ask them what they would require as far as certifications, how business is going, and if they recommend any particular schools. Tell them that you're just thinking about starting the program and it will be at least a couple of years. Do they see their business going strong in the next few years? Ask them if you can contact them after you reach your 200s so that you could possibly sit in with some of their seasoned reporters. Ask them what kind of software they use. (CaseCatalyst, Eclipse, etc.) If most of the firms in your area use one brand, that's what you should go with. (Although it doesn't matter as much as it used to.) Tell them about your paralegal experience, because it really will be an advantage to you and shows that you're already interested in the legal field.
If they aren't helpful and agreeable, then business is probably tough and they won't want any new reporters in the area. In that case, think about contacting firms in areas that you might be willing to relocate to. The NCRA directory has a professional services locator. It lists all the members for each state. You can check out the firm's principals and see if they are RPRs -- Registered Professional Reporters, RMRs -- Registered Merit Reporters, CRRs -- Certified Realtime Reporters, or even better, RDRs -- Registered Diplomat Reporters, who are really the big-wigs. These are the type of people you should work for because they are interested in advancing the profession.
The court listings I've seen have required an accredited school and one year of reporting experience. As an old dog like myself, I don't think my school is even in existence, so I doubt it's going to matter on my applications. Who cares what school I went to if I'm now an RMR? But it's definitely all about having the CRR -- or being very close to getting it -- for the better court jobs.
There are some state courts that are advertising an hourly rate that's about half what other courts are listing. They may not be in the best locations but would probably take newer reporters and it would still be a good, solid job.
I billed out almost $100k last year, and that was paying 25 to 50 percent commission to firms. But I've had 27 years' experience and had some pretty good multi-copy jobs. With insurance costs, no dental, no vision, no sick leave, no vacation leave, no pension, and a disabled husband, it's still a struggle to get by in this economy. Add to that the extremely expensive certifications, professional memberships, training, equipment and support contracts that come around every year. I made the mistake of thinking that if I bought everything that came along, took every test and went to every seminar, it would make the real-time process go faster. I could have spent more time cleaning up my dictionary and using the free training that came with my software and saved a lot of money.
Companies like Eclipse and Stenograph have done a fantastic job of keeping this profession state of the art. I believe there will always be work for exceptionally-talented people in this industry. Those who take too long to jump on the real-time bandwagon are going to be left behind and have trouble getting work, because if you're an older reporter, it really is a huge learning curve.
If you decide to start school, once you feel like it's something you're going to be able to complete, join your local reporting association at the student rate so that you can find someone to mentor you. Don't make the mistake I did of not attending seminars for 25 years just because the CA CSR didn't require continuing ed. It's a great networking opportunity and really keeps you up on the latest happenings in the industry. (Plus it helps you brush up on your punctuation -- which can evolve into a kind of weird form after too many years -- haha.)
Good luck to you!
Thank you so much for all of your wonderful advice. I am little confused on what I should do now. I contacted Erwin Techincal Center to find out about their court reporting program, and found out that they no longer offer it. I did find a accrediated college--Key College and they offer Real Time reporting, but they are a long way from my home. I'm really not sure what to do now.