Stenographers create transcripts of speech using specialty stenographic equipment that uses a shorthand system or speech recording. People speak an average of 160 to 180 words per minute -- a lot of words to get down on paper. Stenography techniques speed up the process, and a trained stenographer can transcribe at least 225 words per minute. You can find employment in a variety of jobs in this field, either on a permanent or freelance basis.
Training in traditional keyboard stenography machines typically takes two to four years at a community or technical college. Some programs lead to an associate degree. It takes less time to learn how to use stenographic equipment that records speech, so training in this area can take as little as six months. If you get a job as a court reporter, you may need a license. You may be able to use certification from the National Court Reporters Association for this. According to the NCRA, 22 states either use or allow its certifications in place of state licensing exams or certification. Requirements in other states may vary. NCRA certification involves taking written and skills tests to prove you can type at the qualifying rate of 225 words per minute. The association also certifies stenographers who work in captioning and support roles.
Report for the Court
Many stenographers work in the legal system as court reporters. Your job is to sit in on cases and transcribe a word-for-word record of everything that is said in the courtroom. Your transcripts are important legal documents, so accuracy is vital. You may also find that your court-reporting skills are useful to law firms when they need someone to create an accurate record of a deposition. In this situation, you may also have the job of putting witnesses under oath.
Stenography skills can also open doors in TV, film and live event broadcasting jobs. Broadcast stenographers transcribe speech to create captions -- you might be working on closed captioning for a TV series or creating them live for a sports event, news channel or concert. In some cases, you can work as a captioner from home, although some jobs require you to work on site.
Stenographers can find work anywhere where speech needs verbatim recording. You may find opportunities in some businesses with a need to formally record an event, such as a meeting, hearing or conference. In some cases, you might work with a hearing-impaired person in a support role. For example, you might transcribe lectures or seminars for a deaf student and attend meetings or appointments with him so he has a record of what was said.
- The National Court Reporters Association: Benefits of Certification
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Court Reporters Do
- Careers in Court Reporting: Be a Courtroom Reporter
- Careers in Court Reporting: Be a Captioner
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Court Reporter
- The National Court Reporters Association: NCRA Certifications
Carol Finch has been writing technology, careers, business and finance articles since 2000, tapping into her experience in sales, marketing and technology consulting. She has a bachelor's degree in Modern Languages, a Chartered Institute of Marketing.certificate and unofficial tech and gaming geek status with her long-suffering friends and family.