With the tide of inclement economy washing over the nation, though getting better in select states, it's hard to maintain a steady job in the U.S. Out of all of the writing positions out there, court reporters are one of the few groups of professionals who can allay their fears of an impending lay-off, the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests.
“Employment of court reporters is projected to grow 18 percent, faster than average, for all occupations between 2008 and 2018."
Court reporter, Richard Castillo has been in the field for over 30 years and pursues his contracts on a freelance basis. He says there is always steady work for people in the field, because "when two people don't agree, they come to court."
"If you’ve ever heard of anyone, I’ve probably covered their deposition. I've seen timeshare magnates, all the politicians..."
For one deposition, he traveled to Hong Kong because they needed the services of an experienced court reporter for one criminal case between a state senator for New York and the president of a steel company in Brazil.
At the time, they only used monitors to record the sights and sounds of depositions in Hong Kong, and they wanted a more private and efficient way to contain the information produced.
While computers may take the place of a few data entry positions, this is not one of them. The increasing development in technology is only propagating the productivity of court reporters, with no threat to relinquish them of their duties any time in the near future.
"It’s easier to do it yourself," Castillo says, "because there is a high chance for computer error when translating. You still need to teach the program, train it."
He uses official court reporting software, shorthand software, and audio recording tools, as well. To be able to type as fast as possible and take everything down, verbatim, as well as speaker identification - what he or she is wearing - or if the telephone rings, he has taught the software to produce entire phrases in exchange for a few words of input. He types the word "yard" to signify that someone has said "beyond a reasonable doubt" and "warmz" is translated to "within a reasonable degree." These are two of the phrases most often-heard in a court room.
In order to be a court reporter, you might spend 18-48 months in court reporting school, but it's more of a physical skill, Castillo says. It took him about three years to become good enough "to actually get down what they're saying."
He says it's a difficult job, but he likes the challenge of it, and it definitely has its perks.
“I like going places I normally walk by, places I would never go in - and actually having a reason to - through the requirements of my job,” he says.
The demand for this brand of rapid recording is on a steady incline, due to an increase in closed captioning for both English and Spanish television shows and in translating for the deaf or hard of hearing.
Currently, there are more job openings than there are job seekers in this field, according to CareerPlanner.com and Monster.com.