Does smoke rise from your keyboard when you're typing? Does the thought of making a mistake fill you with horror? If so, stenography could be your perfect career. Stenographers transcribe speech into writing, often using a shorthand machine. The most common career for stenographers is court reporting. Yet, stenographer careers go far beyond the courtroom, according to the Stenotype Institute. Plenty of jobs call for people with lighting fingers and a fierce commitment to accuracy.
Court reporters record testimonies and speech from trials and legal proceedings. If you're placed in criminal courts, you'll get a front-row seat to high profile cases. On the other hand, you'll need strong nerves to transcribe some of the nasty tales told by witnesses and lawyers. A court stenographer can expect a decent wage. In 2011, the mean annual pay for a court reporter was $53,710, according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics.
Ever wonder who writes the captions that appear on live TV for the hearing impaired? Closed captioning involves typing up speech quickly and accurately enough to appear on-screen. Opportunities range from fast and furious typing during a live news broadcast, to recording the closed captions for a major movie. The Stenotype Institute also points out that Internet technology is opening up more avenues for closed captioning specialists -- from YouTube transcriptions to captions for live web casts.
Typing skills and an eye for accuracy can make stenographers fine candidates for medical transcription. You'll need to record spoken reports and meetings, symposiums and medical data for doctors and other health professionals. Expect a wage somewhat below the national average, with a mean salary in 2011 of $34,050, according to the BLS. Of course, it helps to have a good grasp of medical terminology.
Some stenographers find roles in the corporate world. For example, you might be asked to transcribe contract negotiations, shareholder meetings and general business events. Or, you could use your stenography experience in a role as a legal secretary. The BLS reports that the top 10 per cent of legal secretaries in the country earn an average of $66,940 per year. Show your boss you have stenography skills and it might help you get the salary you deserve.
Based near London, U.K., Peter Mitchell has been a journalist and copywriter for over eight years. Credits include stories for "The Guardian" and the BBC. Mitchell is an experienced player and coach for basketball and soccer teams, and has written articles on nutrition, health and fitness. He has a First Class Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) from Bristol University.