Throughout the years, I have received emails from people all over the USA, people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, asking, “Should I become a court reporter? Will there be a job when I get out? Is there work? Is technology going to take over the industry? Am I too old?”
I always answer these queries honestly and with thought. I ask what the person is looking for, if they are a disciplined-type person, and promise there is work and will be work, BUT ONLY IF YOU ARE GREAT!
Reading through the Harvard Business Review blogs, I came across an article, “Stop Worrying About Making the Right Decision.” The author, Ed Batista, paraphrases Scott McNealy, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and its CEO for 22 years, who said, “It’s important to make good decisions. But I spend much less time and energy worrying about ‘making the right decision’ and much more time and energy ensuring that any decision I make turns out right.”
Believe me, I know the decision to go to court reporting school is huge. It is expensive and takes a tremendous amount of time and energy.
When making the decision, I suggest one should ask:
- Will I be committed to practice? Being a court reporter is liking being a professional athlete. It takes focus, practice, practice, more practice, and a strong desire to succeed.
- Do I have a natural talent? If you are able to play the piano well or type fast, you might have a natural ability. People with a natural ability are able to get through school quickly sometimes.
- Do I have a lot of things going on in my life, and am I easily distracted? If you can’t spend time with the machine and truly focus on speed and accuracy, you will never get out of court reporting school.
- Am I willing to spend the next two years (or more) going to school and practicing, practicing, practicing? While in school I likened the practicing to becoming one with the machine. You have to learn to write with no thought; the words flow through your hands.
- Will there be work in the future? What about speech recognition and tape recorders? I went to school in the late ‘70s and people were asking me what I was doing – tape recorders! I promise that tape recorders cannot provide real-time transcripts; people speak poorly, at the same time, and with accents. Speech recognition is not an issue.
- Will there be work? The average age of court reporters in the USA is 55. Court reporters who have been working for 30+ years are physically getting tired and don’t want to do the all-day, long depositions. I foresee a tremendous need for great court reporters in the next four, five years everywhere. The shortage is imminent.
I believe that if someone has made the decision to go to court reporting school, they should not worry about if they made the right decision, but spend time and energy to ensure that the decision turns out right – just like McNealy. There is great work waiting for anyone that gets through school. I promise.