I'm thinking of becoming a court stenographer
September 11, 2013 3:00 PM   Subscribe

What good vocational careers are available with 2-3 years training? I'm trying to think of a good career switch (I have my Bachelor's in International Studies and have been in politics for 5 years) and want to do something that pays well, is steady and won't be phased out by technology.

I seem to have settled on CART and stenography. I've read all of the Ask MeFi threads about it and even came across one MeFite's family member who is a stenographer and this really resonated with me. Anyways, I am aware of all of the people who say that stenography is a dying art with voice recognition software, but still that software doesn't understand syntax or murmuring or crosstalk (i.e. 89% percent accuracy with software compared to 98% accuracy with a real stenographer).

1. Are there other fields I should be considering? Being a paralegal doesn't pay well in my area (Western US) and the healthcare field isn't my strong suit as I'm not very science-y.

2. Is being a court stenographer at age 28 just silly? I don't know anyone my age who has done this. I want to think through every angle.

Thanks in advance.
posted by timpanogos to Work & Money (11 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not sure what you mean by "just silly," but the idea of court reporters getting phased out isn't just a problem in the UK, it's very much happening in the US. In the western US you will probably only see court reporters in criminal trials; most jurisdictions have gone to recording civil trials for possible transcription later on. More court reporters are used for transcribing out of court depositions, but it's still a shrinking field.

To put a finer point on things, if you want to do something that "pays well, is steady and won't be phased out by technology," being a court reporter is not the answer.

Lots of careers are available with 2-3 years of training; that's in the wheelhouse for an associate's degree in nursing, which is in high demand and won't be replaced by technology. Same goes for plumbing and electrical work. None of those things are relevant to your BA, but then again not much else is either.

Basically, your question reads as "what are good job options for someone with a generic BA and who is willing to train for 2-3 years." The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks exactly this sort of thing. According to them, consider careers as a dental assistant, EMT, HVAC mechanic or installer, RN, massage therapist, medical record tech, brick mason, cement mason, etc.
posted by craven_morhead at 3:57 PM on September 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


A law degree takes only three years. Your background would be perfect for law school.
posted by janey47 at 4:01 PM on September 11, 2013


Your background would be perfect for law school.

Maybe, but it's probably an awful idea:

"As we enter 2013, the legal market continues in the fifth year of an unprecedented economic downturn that began in the third quarter of 2008." Cite.

Legal Job Market Is So Bad, It’s Good, Says New Paper

Just How Bad Off Are Law School Graduates?


More Evidence That The Legal Job Market Is In Terrible Shape

How the Job Market for Law School Grads Crumbled (and How It Could Come Back to Life)

The Real Problem With Law Schools: They train too many lawyers.


Basically, universities have figured out that law schools are profit centers; they offer big tuition and low overhead. Every year, more law school graduates are produced than there are legal jobs. Unless you can get a huge scholarship and/or attend a top-10 law school, becoming a lawyer probably isn't a great idea right now.
posted by craven_morhead at 4:09 PM on September 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


In the western US you will probably only see court reporters in criminal trials; most jurisdictions have gone to recording civil trials for possible transcription later on.

Weird, my experience has been the complete opposite. Here, criminal courtrooms are digitally recorded at all times so that they can be transcribed later if need be, and civil courtrooms are not recorded at all so it's up to the parties to hire a private court reporter. This definitely varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction so you'll want to do some research.

Regardless, even if the technology for voice recognizition improves and phases out the need for human transcriptionists, there will still be a need for scopists to review and edit a computer-generated transcript for accuracy. So, although the field isn't going to completely die out anytime soon, I wouldn't be surprised if it transitions into scopists vastly outnumbering transcriptionists. Significantly, to my knowledge, scopists earn less money than transcriptionists. IAAL so I'm familiar with this to an extent, but definitely do your own research on this and see what you come up with.

And on preview, good God, do not go to law school.
posted by gatorae at 4:30 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


craven-morhead: Sure, but being a brick mason is not only less lucrative, but by its nature is a much shorter career, because of its physical requirements. Not sure that it's any more realistic than law school, and the OP made several mentions of interest in the legal fields and specifically said that medical fields (RN, Dental Assistant) were not of interest.
posted by janey47 at 4:31 PM on September 11, 2013


Plumbers aren't going anywhere. The training period may require an apprenticeship depending on which state you're in.
posted by jquinby at 4:52 PM on September 11, 2013


Closed captioner?

Other ideas: Law Librarian, Sign Language Interpreter
posted by auntie maim at 5:00 PM on September 11, 2013


In the western US you will probably only see court reporters in criminal trials; most jurisdictions have gone to recording civil trials for possible transcription later on. More court reporters are used for transcribing out of court depositions, but it's still a shrinking field.

I haven't the slightest idea where this comes from. I've been practicing about ten years and I hire court reporters all the time for hearings and depositions. Transcription is important for trial preparation and preserving a record for appeal. On any number of occasions, I have hired court reporters on the spot in courthouse hallways where mine has been delayed in traffic or flaked.

Weird, my experience has been the complete opposite. Here, criminal courtrooms are digitally recorded at all times so that they can be transcribed later if need be, and civil courtrooms are not recorded at all so it's up to the parties to hire a private court reporter.

In my jurisdiction, the parties retain court reporters even though there are microphones in the courtroom. The microphones are their for the court's use, not for the parties to have a transcript of the proceedings.

OP, ignore anyone who tells you to go to law school. I try to persuade everyone I can against it. As for court reporting, I have no idea how much it pays, but it seems like steady work. Here, court reporters tend to be independent contractors who get dispatched to jobs from a central court reporter's office. I think the real money would be eventually starting your own court reporting agency after you have enough experience.

I don't see your age as being an issue at all.
posted by Tanizaki at 5:09 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tanizaki, my views on the civil vs. criminal split in western states comes from 2 years as a trial court clerk, 1 year as an appellate court clerk, a year as a district attorney, and 3 years in private practice, all in Colorado and Wyoming.
posted by craven_morhead at 5:18 PM on September 11, 2013


How about surveying? Requires reasonable maths skills, and your BA will count for BA, but substantial aspects of it wont be replaced until the robots truly take over.
posted by wilful at 5:26 PM on September 11, 2013


I work with CART providers as part of my job and we're having trouble finding good ones now that school is back in session. We get billed about $150/hr for onsite CART and $100/hr for remote CART. Talk to the Commission for Deaf & Hard of Hearing (or equivalent agency) in your area.
posted by healthytext at 12:00 AM on October 19, 2013


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