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Court Reporting StenographWe keep reporting here at about the shortages in the court reporting industry. There does not seem to be an end in sight if the enrollment into programs does not increase. Even court reporters themselves see the stenographer shortages ahead. So what can be done?

One issue is that television advertisements for schools & programs have become less common and schools that teach stenography, like Winter Park Tech in Florida, have shut down in recent years. It also does not help that awareness of the profession has greatly declined. This has obviously led to a shortage of young professionals entering the industry.

So What Can Be Done

“The average age of a court reporter right now is 56 years old.”

Let that sink in. What that means, is that as those folks retire in the next five to ten years, the shortage will get deeper if young people are not enrolling.

“Keep in mind that stenographers not only provide transcripts for court proceedings but also live captioning during television broadcasts and even college lectures”, said Rosa Naccarato, government relations chair for the Florida Court Reporters Association.

Chief Judge Frederick Lauten of the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida said the looming shortage has spared Central Florida courts so far.

“We just haven’t faced it yet,” he said.


Stenographers are Important

But the shortage of stenographers has been long anticipated. Back in 2013, the National Court Reporters Association commissioned an independent research group to study the industry and make predictions on its future demands.

In the study, known within the industry as the Ducker Report, researchers determined that by 2018 (which has clearly passed) a lack of student enrollment rates “combined with significant retirement rates,” would create a shortage of about 5,500 court reporters nationwide.

The drop in enrollment has led to schools closing, including two in Central Florida. Now, the only stenographic reporting programs in the state are in South Florida, though students can take classes online. Other major hurdles are that student failure rates are high, and so is the cost of equipment and schooling.

Stenography is a Valuable Skill

Stenography is a skill akin to learning piano. It is not easy or for everybody. In some programs, only 4% of students who enter actually graduate. The program itself can take between two to eight years to finish, and tuition can cost more than $10,000 per year.

It is even fair to say that stenography is like a combination of learning a foreign language and a musical instrument at the same time.

However, steno is a lucrative career, and those in the industry say a job is basically guaranteed (those shortages) upon completion of training. Recently graduated stenographers typically start with salaries in the low $40,000 range, but can eventually make upward of $150,000. Because most stenographers are independent contractors, income is based on how much work a reporter takes on. That means there is independence as well. In reality, you are your own boss.


Automation in Stenography

Like many trade occupations, automation has made its way into this industry as well. In court reporting, digital reporters have replaced stenographers for many routine legal proceedings. They set up microphones in a courtroom, then transcribe the recordings later. Seems unfair in a way, doesn’t it?

Training for this is minimal. Just about four weeks of training to do this.

While digital reporters help by freeing up stenographers for more complex legal work, transcriptions can take three to five times longer for a digital reporter and often contain more errors. This is not a help but a hindrance. If the work has to be corrected or double & triple checked than is it worth it?

As courts continue to see a shortage in stenographers, forcing digital reporters to cover more high-profile proceedings, the quality of the record will deteriorate.

Orange and Osceola County courts will actually reserve stenographers for lengthy, high-profile hearings, which indicates the high quality of their work.

Occasionally, transcripts from digital reporters come back indicating a word or sentence was inaudible, which rarely happens with stenographers. Since they are writing the record as it unfolds, they can ask someone to repeat a word, or move closer to their microphone. They can be interactive whereas a recorder just sits and records.

The National Court Reporters Association has a program called “A to Z,” which offers students free, six-week trial classes to test their interest in the profession. This is a great way to test the waters.

Students who decide to pursue the job can get tuition assistance and mentorship through Project Steno, which focuses on student outreach and enrollment. is ready to serve you in your court reporting, videography services, interpreters, live-streaming, and video-to-text synchronization.

Although the majority of cities that offer CourtScribes’ services are in Florida, the company home base, other cities all across these United States that CourtScribes offers services in, are the following: Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, Port St. Lucie, Fort Lauderdale, Cape Coral, Coral Springs, Clearwater, Palm Bay, Fort Myers, Weston, Sarasota, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Hialeah, Stuart, Hollywood, Naples, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach, Jupiter, Key West, Coral Gables, Maryland, Manhattan, Buffalo, Washington DC, Baltimore, Bowie, Virginia, Frederick, Albany, New York, Brooklyn,  Westchester, Gaithersberg, and Rockville.

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