Demand for Court Reporters Up; Supply Down

Demand for Court Reporters Up; Supply Down

Editor: I think it’s a true statement to say that all of our CART providers begin by attending court reporting school. And we know that CART providers are in short supply. Here’s an interesting report on employment opportunities in this field.

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Court Reporting Designated One of the Fastest Growing Professions by Federal Government, Although Number of Graduates is Trending Downward

For the first time ever, employment prospects in the court reporting profession have been projected by the federal government to grow “much faster than average,” reflecting “excellent” job opportunities “as job openings continue to outnumber jobseekers,” the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) said today.

Ironically, the government’s estimate comes at a time when NCRA said the number of schools taking part in its certification programs and their graduates have steadily declined over the decade. Almost 1,000 students graduated from more than 100 NCRA-certified schools in 1996. Ten years later, NCRA said only 62 certified programs across the U.S. graduated fewer than 360 court reporters.

The “Occupational Outlook Handbook 2008-2009,” recently released by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), said court reporter employment will grow by 25 percent through 2016, because of “increasing numbers of civil and criminal cases” coupled with federal telecommunications legislation that requires television captioning and the increasing demand for real-time communication access for people who are deaf and hard of hearing under the American with Disabilities Act.

In recent speeches, U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said with the country transitioning to a knowledge-based economy, workers with higher skills “are being paid a premium,” while she said the strongest demand is for workers “in technical occupations.” Her words are borne out by the BLS projection for court reporting and by a 2006 NCRA survey that determined an average net income after expenses of $65,242 for freelance (deposition) reporters and $72,072 for court reporters who work for local, state or federal courts and agencies.

“Our efforts to increase the number of court reporters and training opportunities are beginning to pay off,” says Mark Golden, CAE, NCRA’s executive director. “Last year, nine new schools opened to teach court reporting, while maintaining high performance standards and a challenging academic curriculum. Yet we still have a long way to go before the supply even starts to meet the demand.”

Golden noted that the training is challenging. “It demands a great deal of practice to develop skills of dexterity and concentration,” he says, “but for those who become guardians of the record and providers of communication access, the rewards and sense of making a real contribution make it all worthwhile.”

To further meet the future need for court reporters, NCRA is reaching out to potential students at http://www.bestfuture.com/. In addition, legislation now before Congress calls for competitive grants to train captioners and reporters who specialize in realtime and Communication Access Realtime Translation. CART provides an immediate translation of all spoken words and environmental sounds in academic, civic, religious or cultural events for people who are deaf, have hearing loss or are learning English as a second language.

NCRA, a 23,000-member nonprofit organization, represents the judicial reporting and captioning professions. Members include official court reporters, deposition reporters, broadcast captioners, providers of realtime communication access services for deaf and hard-of-hearing people and others who capture and convert the spoken word into information bases and readable formats. For information, visit http://www.ncraonline.org/.