Stenographers are taking dictations and transcribe these on word processors or typewriters. They record legal proceedings, meetings, conversations, speeches, or business correspondence.
They usually work with stenotype machines or sometimes also take shorthand notes manually.
Often, stenographers also have more office tasks in addition to their transcription duties, such as operating office machines and typing. They often attend staff meetings and then transcribe summary reports for a company’s management.
One of the best-known fields in which stenographers are active is the area of Court Stenography. Let’s take a closer look.
Court Stenographers are fundamental court reporters. They are specialized in taking notes at legal and courtroom proceedings. They capture legal proceedings very accurately.
The job requires working with specialized tools, attention to detail, and lots of hard work and concentration.
Generally, stenographers are working in actual courtrooms. They capture all conversations in court proceedings and will record these words most appropriately.
Court Stenographers generally use stenotype machines or sometimes make shorthand notation to later transcribe these notes into very accurate business documents.
Highly trained and skilled court stenographers may use CAT (Computer-Aided Transcription) systems. These systems are directly linked to a computer and sophisticated software translates stenographic symbols instantly into words.
Court Stenographer Salary
In 2019, the average salary for Court Stenographers in America was around $58K. However, salaries may vary widely depending on region, education, certification, skills, experience, and things like that. Most Court Stenographer salaries fall in the $42K – $75K range, though.
Court Stenographers document court proceedings and use stenotype machines to do so. To become a Court Stenographer, you must have completed a 2 to a 4-year college program.
To learn more about whether a job as a court reporter might be right for you, check out the following video:
Medical Stenographers, also referred to as Medical Transcriptionists, play vital roles in the field of healthcare.
They are essential for clinics, hospitals, doctors’ offices, home healthcare agencies, nursing homes, and other types of healthcare organizations. Medical Stenographers transcribe medical reports that are recorded by healthcare professionals such as doctors.
Medical Stenographers use a number of electronic tools to transcribe doctors’ office visits, diagnostic studies, visits to emergency rooms, summaries, and so on. Medical Stenographers transcribe and translate reports into easy-to-understand and clear formats.
Medical Stenographers allow healthcare professionals to work with accurate and reliable medical documentation so they can evaluate patients’ conditions properly and take decisions on optimal treatment.
Medical Stenographers must hold a high school or GED diploma and have completed a specialized medical transcription certificate, diploma, or associate’s degree program.
Aspiring Medical Stenographers usually will take academic courses in Medical Transcription, Medical Terminology, Pathology, Anatomy & Physiology, Computer Applications, and English.
Medical Stenographer Salary
In 2019, the average salaries for Medical Stenographers in America are around $56K annually. There are, however, some remarkable regional differences and the income level will also depend on education, experience, skill, and certification. The salaries for Medical Stenographers range between around $31K and $65K across America.
The U.S. Constitution requires that each House keeps records of its proceedings. And though this doesn’t mandate that congressional debates will be recorded word-by-word, members of Congress including their constituents are expecting unbiased and accurate accounts of all floor activities both in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
So ever since 1873, members of Congress have trusted the U.S. Congressional Record to take care of that. Senate Stenographers may quadruple their income over their entire careers due to automatic increments. These rules will lead to relatively high earnings.
Stenographers not only work in courtrooms, hospitals, or government settings. They are found working for private businesses where they record events and important meetings.
A quickly expanding area of stenography is found in closed captioning work for the hard-of-hearing and deaf. In this field, stenographers provide closed captioning services for speeches, recorded and live television programs, civic events, religious services, and so on.
Stenographers can be employees in our court system, in court reporting companies, but many stenographers work as freelancers. This can be a very rewarding and lucrative career, particularly for professionals that have extensive credentials.
To become a court reporter or a real-time captioner, a greater body of knowledge is generally required than to become a general stenographer.
Court Reporters and Captioners can generally easily perform the tasks of office stenographers, while these stenographers would not be able to perform the job of a court reporter or captioners without extra training and education.
Technical Stenography is another rapidly expanding professional field. Technical Stenographers may specialize in engineering, medical, legal, or some other technical field.
How to Become a Stenographer
To become a Court Stenographer, you need to have completed a post-secondary education program in court reporting and positions require usually professional certification and state licensure.
High School or GED Diploma
Stenographers must hold a high school or GED diploma. There are high school students that already take classes in shorthand, typing, or business and/or legal procedures in high school.
Once graduated, these students may enroll in college or business school for more advanced training. Students can also sign up for a more general program and take college courses in History, English, Math, and Science and receive all technical training after they graduated.
Though students who took business classes in high school may enter the employment market right after graduating from high school, they may qualify for higher salaries and better positions if they additionally earn a college degree and specialize in some professional field.
Students considering more advanced careers in court reporting or real-time captioning need to complete at least a 2-year degree program in court and/or conference reporting.
For most positions, though, a 4-year degree with computer and English courses is usually preferred.
Certification or Licensing
To be able to work for government institutions, stenographers are required to pass a civil test and be capable of taking dictation at least at a rate of 80 words each minute.
Good stenographers write at a rate of 200 words per minute and they do so on a very tiny machine! At the same time, they must produce exact transcripts as well.
They must also pass verbal and mathematical skills tests and employers in the semi-private and private sectors usually require similar tests as well.
For more advanced positions, certification may be required, for example in the fields of court reporting, real-time captioning, or medical transcription. More information about becoming a Court Reporter can be found here.
Stenographer Career Paths
Above, we’ve talked about Court Stenographers and Medical Stenographers, but the professional options are plentiful. Let’s take a closer look.
Freelance Reporters – Becoming a freelance reporter is a very common career path for individuals holding a license or college degree in court reporting.
Freelance reporters usually work independently from their homes. They may be employed by specialized court reporting firms performing assignments. This may result in high earnings and they have the opportunity to perform tasks for multiple agencies.
Freelance reporters may work at any place where verbatim transcripts are needed. Usually, they are hired by attorneys for making reports at depositions, arbitrations, trials, or municipal hearings.
Official Reporters – Official Reporters, unlike freelancers, are employees of the state. They may be paid by the federal, state, or local government for writing verbatim the things that are said in court.
Official Reporters can be assigned to one courtroom or one judge and receive extra compensation when attorneys require transcript copies. When attorneys are appealing a court decision, they require transcripts made by the official reporters.
Broadcast Captioners – These court reporters provide so-called “closed captions” for television programs. These professionals transcribe spoken words onto television monitors for hard-of-hearing and deaf viewers.
Sometimes, broadcast captioners translate dialogues in real-time and at other times, they will do the job post-production.
CART Providers – CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) providers offer services for individuals who are hearing impaired.
CART providers may be working in a number of settings while assisting clients during doctor’s appointments, board meetings, or anywhere else where real-time translations are needed.
CART providers who are using stenograph machines may, for example, caption college or high school classes and produce immediate transcripts to hard-of-hearing students.
Today, more and more court reporters, broadcast captioners, or CART providers are working remotely. A good Internet connection offers them the opportunity to hear and make transcripts without needing to physically in a room.
Scopists – Scopists translate and edit court reporters’ transcripts by using highly sophisticated software. Applying this technology ensures that formatting, grammar, punctuation, and typos are used correctly.
Additionally, scopists often are used to ensure that all terms and names are used and spelled properly and to make sure that questionable sections will be flagged. The transcripts are then returned to the court reporters who can proofread the transcripts for final approval.
Legislative Reporters – These professionals are making immediate recordings of all legal proceedings for the public. This job offers great opportunities for people who are interested in learning and monitoring how our laws are made and how they are enacted.
Military Reporters – These professionals are usually trained by the U.S. armed forces and they record various military proceedings like court-martials and military tribunals.