Words, words, words

You’ve seen them in countless legal dramas — the tireless typists whose job it is to record every word of a case, from a closing argument to a surprise witnesses’ deposition. Think you’ve got the chops for this fast-paced but stable career? Read on.

Traditional courtroom reporters are known as stenographers. Stenographers use computers equipped with keys that can input multiple letters or sounds at one time; this way, they can type 225 words per minute. (Yes, 225.)

In the increasingly popular method known as electronic reporting, on the other hand, a computer records every utterance. Even then, a court reporter must be present to ensure that speakers have been correctly identified. And despite the rise of electronics in the courtroom, the stenographic method will not be phased out for important cases any time soon.

Training is essential to become a good stenographic reporter, and usually takes over two years to complete (electronic reporters tend to learn on the job). About 100 post-secondary vocational and technical schools and colleges offer associate’s degrees; check The National Court Reporters Association for accredited institutions and to learn about various certificate programs that can help advance your career.

While this is usually associated with a courtroom, many freelance with private firms such as captioning companies that cater to the hearing-impaired.

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