With excellent grammar, typing, and listening skills, anyone can train for a long-term professional career as an official court reporter or a freelance court reporter without having a four-year college degree, and nationwide, there is a shortage of trained court reporters. Often the question gets raised about the differences between the methods of court reporting, so let’s take a closer look.
What is a stenographer?
The stenotype machine was invented in the early 1900s as a viable method of taking down proceedings as opposed to writing shorthand language with a pen. A stenographer today is tasked with taking down proceedings using a stenotype, or shorthand, machine with a special keyboard of 22 letters instead of the usual 26.
Training to be a stenographer consists of learning the shorthand language and being able to translate it while at the same time using the shorthand machine to type the shorthand language at speeds up to and above 225 words per minute.
This requires rigorous training and proficiency in English grammar, punctuation, and speedbuilding. Training to be a stenographer typically takes an average of 33 months, after which you will test to receive national and/or state certification to work as a stenographer court reporter. Another drawback is there is over a 90% dropout rate of students among steno schools during training.
So what is voice writing court reporting?
Voice writing was originally used by the military Speaking into a stenomask with high-powered microphones, voice writers repeat deposition or courtroom proceedings verbatim using Dragon and a Computer Aided Transcription system such as Eclipse Vox to produce real time text instantaneously as they’re dictating. The mask is designed to not only filter all other sounds in order to capture only the voice writer’s speech but to also make the voice writer virtually unheard as the proceedings commence at speeds up to 225 words per minute.
Voice writers utilizing this realtime technology are also in high demand. Once you complete training and pass a certification exam, you’re practically guaranteed to get a job as there is a huge shortage across the company. The median income for court reporters throughout the US is $68,000 per year according to the Department of Labor.
The main difference?
It’s only the method of takedown!
Voice writers and stenographers are both responsible for verbatim, or word-for-word, transcription of court and deposition proceedings. The only difference in the two types of court reporters is the actual method of take-down. Both types of reporters produce the exact same end product, the written transcript of proceedings.
Both voice writers and stenographers can interrupt to ask for clarification, readback testimony at the request of the attorney or judge, and differentiate between two or more speakers at a time.
What kind of training is involved?
All court reporters require the same basic academic background regardless of method. This includes legal and medical language, business law, and English. The skills track is where the methods diverge. A voice writing student can become real-time certifiable well within the 24-month associate degree window. Paralegals and legal secretaries, because they’ve already taken nearly the same set of core academics required by court reporting, can become proficient in three to six months. In under 12 months, a paralegal or legal secretary can become real-time certified. With stenography, however, to complete the basic training, it takes an average of 33 months, and steno schools typically have a 90% dropout rate among their students while voice writing schools typically have, in direct contrast, a 10% dropout rate. [this language is from Wikipedia]
Our courses at IR Court Reporting Institute will provide all the training you need to become a real time voice writer, including realtime technology, transcript production training. We even provide stenographer retraining for existing stenographers who have carpal tunnel or neck/back injuries and want to continue their court reporting career.
How do the two methods differ as far as income?
Both voice writers and stenographers make the exact same income and produce the same end product, i.e., the transcript of proceedings.
The employment opportunities for both voice writers and stenographers are great because of the nationwide shortage of trained court reporters, and realtime reporters will always be in the highest demand. Voice writers can also work in the fields of broadcast captioning and CART for the deaf/hard of hearing consumers.
Cost of equipment
The cost of real time voice reporting equipment ranges between $6,000 and $8,000, while that of stenography ranges between $10,000 and 12,000.
The question was asked of me the other day, Why would anyone want to become a stenographer instead of a voice writer? Well, the short answer is that with today’s technology, properly trained real time voice writers can provide the exact same services as stenographers, including readbacks, rough drafts, and expedited transcripts. They perform the same job, produce the same end result, and get paid exactly the same. The difference is a voice writer can be trained in as little as six months to a year at a fraction of the training cost, all with a very low dropout rate among schools.
For more information
For more information about how you can train for a long-term, high-paying, in-demand career, then contact the IR Court Reporting Institute at (501) 823-9179 for more information or visit our website at intlrealtime.org, and let us help you start on the path toward a career you’ll absolutely love.