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Nine Questions Answered About Stenography

stenographerWe have all seen the person in the courtroom typing away with reckless abandon, as people speak and give their testimony in any given courtroom proceeding. You may have wondered to yourself, how do they do that, where did they learn that, and even how much do they make for doing that? Well, that person is called a court stenographer. Sometimes they are also referred to as a court reporter.

Court stenographers, like the ones available from CourtScribes, or court reporters, are people trained to type and write in shorthand, which allows them to write as fast as people can speak.

1 – What Does Stenography Mean?

The word “stenography” comes from the Greek word “steno” which means narrow and “graphy” which means writing. Narrow writing is now commonly referred to as “shorthand”. A stenographer simply put is a shorthand writer.

Modern-day stenographers use machines called stenotypes, which allow them to type, in some cases, faster than 300 WPM, which is just about double the ‘speed of speech’.


2 – How is stenography used?

Stenographers can type in shorthand which allows them to type as quickly as people speak. This provides important and accurate documentation that is immediately available. This is mostly provided in courtroom settings, however, stenographers are used to assist the hard of hearing as well by providing the services that you see on movies and TV that allow for captions.

You can actually make the case that the stenographer is as important as the judge in a courtroom.

3 – Do stenographers type every word?

Yes, and they can type full words at once by simultaneously tapping multiple keys. So while they do type every word, it is done with shorthand.

4 – Is stenographer a good job?

Yes, it is a great career. There is a huge demand in courtrooms for stenographers. This is true for a couple of reasons. One, there is a dire shortage of those that are trained to do this job, so there is a lot of opportunity. Two, the job pays very well, as it is a hard to acquire skill. And three, there are many side jobs you can do, as well as outsourcing your services outside of the courtroom.


5 – Why is stenography important?

It is important as it is a requirement in many places to have written transcripts. This makes stenography something that is still needed. Court reporters are also tasked with writing down the defendant’s gestures and expressions, as well as their reactions to things. This is something that no machine can do. The stenographer is responsible for creating the “record” of what occurred in the courtroom. This record is extremely important as every member of the court uses this record in their case.


6 – What are stenography skills?

The main skill is the ability to do shorthand and then transcribe your notes. 180 WPM is the ‘speed of speech’ which means that stenographers have to be able to write at a minimum speed of 180 WPM. Stenographers document and record everything that takes place in a courtroom, which makes them an integral part of court hearings across the world.


7 – How long does it take to become a stenographer?

It takes close to three years. You do have to put in the time as if it is a college-like education you are getting. This is a very difficult to master skill, and many dropout or just cannot accomplish the curriculum.


8 – Are stenographers well paid?

Stenographers are actually very well paid. Stenographers can make upwards of $80,000 a year based on hours and years in the industry.

This is due to the fact that it is an intricate skill, there are very few people that have the skill, and there is a shortage of those with the skill that are working in courtrooms.


9 – What is the future of stenography?

The future of stenography is clear. Technological advancements have been made and stenographers will have to adapt to them. While it is unlikely that at any time, now or in the future, that stenographers will not be needed, technology has infiltrated the area.

As technology has become more and more advanced, audio and video recordings are now being used in courtrooms around the world. To save money, courtrooms have invested in video and audio recorders. Many then theorized that the stenographer’s days were numbered. This simply is not true. There is room for both to work.

This is because video and audio recordings are not always successful. There can be interference, data gets corrupted, and sometimes people just forget to turn the devices on! Because of this potential threat, the stenography industry had to adapt to the times.

Computers became more popular, and as they did, court reporters began using these machines to compete with other forms of technology. Stenotype machines could now be plugged into portable computers, laptops, and be used to translate shorthand onto the computer screen in real-time. This was something video and audio recorders could not accurately do.

Many now use a technology called ‘steno masks’ which are microphones plugged into their computers that run voice-recognition software. The stenographer then, in real-time, cleans up the machine’s mistakes and errors; the perfect fusion of technology and stenography.

While technology is an incredibly important part of all of our lives, it cannot be entirely trusted just yet. Machines are not infallible and make mistakes. A stenographer must supervise and verify what these ‘steno masks’ record.

These nine points should have made one thing clear. Court reporters aka stenographers are very important, and they are not going anywhere any time soon. We here at CourtScribes provide all of the services mentioned in this article.

So if you need court reporting services that handle digital recording and remote depositions then, which supports all states and programs that aid in the court reporting world, are ready to serve you in your court reporting, videography services, interpreters, live-streaming, and video-to-text synchronization.

We are located in South Florida, but offer our services throughout the entire United States. Call us now when you need any courtroom steno or tech.