Jobs Outlook: Court Reporters
Employment of court reporters is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2012. Demand for court reporter services will be spurred by the continuing need for accurate transcription of proceedings in courts and in pretrial depositions and by the growing need to create captions for live or prerecorded television and to provide other realtime translating services for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Despite the good job prospects, fewer people are going into this profession, creating a shortage of court reporters—particularly stenographic typists—and making job opportunities very good to excellent. Because of this shortage, voice writers have become more widely accepted as speech recognition technology improves and error rates decline. Still, many courts hire only stenotypists to perform court reporting duties, and because of this practice, demand for these highly skilled reporters will remain high.
Federal legislation mandates that, by 2006, all new television programming must be captioned for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. In addition, the Americans with Disabilities Act gives deaf and hard-of-hearing students in colleges and universities the right to request access to realtime translation in their classes. Both of these factors are expected to increase demand for court reporters to provide realtime captioning and CART services. Although these services forgo transcripts and differ from traditional court reporting, which uses computer-aided transcription to turn spoken words into permanent text, they require the same skills that court reporters learn in their training.
Despite increasing numbers of civil and criminal cases, budget constraints are expected to limit the ability of Federal, State, and local courts to expand, thereby also limiting the demand for traditional court reporting services in courtrooms and other legal venues. Further, in efforts to keep costs down, many courtrooms have installed tape recorders to maintain records of proceedings. Some jurisdictions have found the error rates associated with tape recorders to be unacceptable, bringing court reporters back to their courtrooms despite budgetary issues. Still, despite the use of audiotape and videotape technology, court reporters can quickly turn spoken words into readable, searchable, permanent text, so they will continue to be needed to produce written legal transcripts and proceedings for publication.