Court reporters are – in many people’s eyes – only good for their typing speed. However, the truth is that most reporters possess a skill set that ordinary people would consider too complex.
It takes more than many fast fingers to listen and accurately note down ongoing conversations in real-time.
If you’ve ever wanted to venture into court reporting, here are some of the skills you must possess to succeed:
Long Attention Span
Ever been in a meeting where you were constantly zoning in and out of the room? Well, you can’t do that as a court reporter. This is because you will be required to produce scripts with near-100 percent accuracy, which means you need to capture every word spoken. Losing concentration even for a split second can cause inconsistencies in your transcript, which may even cost you the job.
Ability to Handle Stress
Again, court reporting is more than just a “typing” job. Reporters are constantly under pressure, both from clients and the job itself.
The stress is not just mental but also physical, with back problems, headaches, finger pains, and repetitive motion disorders being very common among court reporters.
One needs to be adept at handling the stress and maintaining the right work-life balance, which includes getting adequate sleep and exercising.
A Pair of Good Hands
Court reporters earn their livelihoods from their hands, or rather fingers, just like models do from their bodies. Therefore, they need to ensure that their hands are healthy and in working condition at all times. Otherwise, they wouldn’t give any value to their employers and would find themselves out of jobs.
Some court reporters try to minimize the number of physical activities they partake in. For instance, they may avoid risky tasks like basketball games, home repair, and even weightlifting. The overly cautious ones even stay away from all forms of manual labor.
The downside to the business is that, unlike most professions, one can quickly lose their job if they get chronic conditions like arthritis. This is because court reporters are typically judged on how many transcripts they can churn out in a given time, and health complications can significantly reduce one’s speed.
All said, becoming a certified court reporter is not a walk in the park. The competition is exceptionally stiff, both from other reporters and digital machines, and one needs to be good to have a shot. And those that make it deserve all the respect.