Average $$$ expectations for a fresh out of school freelance reporter

Hi All -

I am a current student hoping to finish up school and an internship by this time next year, and start working as a freelance reporter. What can I expect to make the first year to two that I am freelancing? I know that a lot depends on how much I work and what the firm I work with pays but what is a realistic number? I understand that it takes time to build up a reputation and skill so I am not expecting big bucks right away. That said, I also don't want to be blindsided and broke either.
Your thoughts are appreciated.
Thanks,
Kate

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As Kelli said, experience....

My first partial year I think I made 37,000 (6 months?). Second year (another partial) I was supposed to be in the top 5 earning reporters of the firm (out of 50+ reporters) and was supposed to receive "recoginition" at the Christmas party, and that was even after I left in October (to start my own firm). They took me out of the running of the Top 5 b/c I was no longer there . That was back in the early/mid '80s, though.

It really does depend where you live, you experience, and your drive.
Thank you for your replies. I am in Buffalo, NY. I have been hearing things like 16K and 20K but I have only spoken to a few people (2-3.) I am currently making low-30's at my job, and I'm definitely not putting myself through all of this to make only half of that! I have asked my professor about work in my area and she said that there is a lot of freelance work In Buffalo so finding jobs shouldn't be a problem. She also said that she has a few former students that are doing very well for themselves as freelance reporters in Western NY. So I have been hoping that those were on the low side, and that maybe the individual reporters situations had a lot to do with it. I am hoping to not take a pay cut at least for those first few years. My goal is to someday get involved in captioning, so I'd like to focus on the realtime end of it.

I know I'll have a much better idea after my internship as far as my capabilities go. It's one thing to sit on your couch and practice but it's going to be complete culture shock to actually go on a job!
Good Question, Kate!
Kate,

Love your dogs on your picture. I have a border collie.

This is a great field, challenging, but with good to great rewards. I just attended a professional seminal, and I brought back a saying, "The harder you work, the greater your luck." That's so true.

Be confident, not arrogant. Take the jobs the other reporters pass on, and be a team player. You'll earn a reputation for being reliable in a field where reliability and punctuality are a must.

I've been in this professional field since 1978, so over 30 years. When I first started, I got so frustrated that I applied at the post office, and looked at entry into the military. Thank goodness it worked out the way it did.

When, and if, you make it into the field, you'll have much better training than I did. You'll have much better equipment. Get involved in NCRA and your state organizations. Everything you learn will make you a better
reporter. Network with other reporters.

Good luck with your new career. I'm not going to tell you dollars and cents, because sometimes investments
don't have an immediate payoff, but we all, as court reporters, get out of it what we put into it.

Yes, you can make a lot of money as a court reporter. I hope 30 years from now, you'll look back
and say "but it was so much more than just that."

Brian Gaffigan, RMR
Hi, Kate. I noticed you're from Buffalo. My boyfriend's from Buffalo also, and we visit pretty often. Did you get snow today (Oct 16)? We've got our cabin in northwestern Pennsylvania, and they definitely got snow today. Pretty amazing. But, speaking of Buffalo, there's a firm there that's had a running ad in the JCR looking for reporters for at least 2 years now. Although that can sometimes be a big red flag (sometimes, not always), I'll tell you I corresponded with them back when the ads first started appearing regularly, and the owner said they were not looking for heavy-hitting realtime reporters, but basically to add to their call list for available work in the area. You should give them a call. That's the Metschel firm.

I'll second Kelli's comments that to make really good money, you should make realtime your goal. I see from your comments, you are striving for realtime excellence, so good for you!


M.A.
Also, this was posted by Candis on another forum:

Good Pay Without a 4-Year Degree
10 Careers With Shorter On-Ramps

HERE's the link to that article

M.A.

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