Students used National Court Reporting and Captioning Week to let others know about the challenging yet rewarding career.
Dolores Gonzalez, associate professor of court reporting, said the week, Feb. 9-16, is important because most students don’t think of court reporting as a major.
“You’re basically creating a case log in litigation in court,” Gonzalez said. “The money is great and high. I’ve worked as a court reporter for 22 years and I never made less than $80,000 a year. The salary has increased over years. In the Valley and Laredo, you can get started off at $80,000 to $90,000 right away.”
Gonzalez called the program challenging.
“We have a small group of students in our program, about 65-80,” Gonzalez said. “We usually have a big dropout, but it’s because this major requires a lot of practice outside of class. It’s basic motor skills, but more challenging.”
To become a court reporter, at the end of their degree plan, students must take a two-fold test to get their license through the state.
“The first exam is over skills, with three categories: literary, jury charge, and questions and answers with two voices,” Gonzalez said. “The tests are five minutes long and students must get at least 95 percent correct.”
Students must transcribe 180 words per minute with literary, 200 words per minute with jury charge, and 225 words per minute for the question-and-answer portion.
“The second exam is about written knowledge and deals with Texas Court Procedure, spelling and vocabulary, grammar and punctuation, and general legal terms with 55 multiple choice questions,” Gonzalez said. “It is a strenuous and extensive test.”
The classwork is tedious, but Gonzalez said students know if this career is for them or not before school is over.
“It’s a rewarding type of work by helping people,” Gonzalez said. “You get to create a report of people dealing with their life, from going to prison or sending them to prison, or from people losing businesses or more. It’s hard work, but it’s a good kind of hard work.”
Student Samantha DeLeon said she became interested in court reporting when she worked at a probation office.
“I had saw the court reporter and was very intrigued,” DeLeon said. “She let me shadow her and I fell in love. I will complete the program at the end of this semester and would like to be an official court reporter for a courthouse.”
Matt Peterson, another court reporting major, said the work is hard but will be worth it in the end when he has a job.
“They’re always looking for people to be hired as court reporters,” Peterson said. “The hardest part has been whenever you get to a certain point and you feel like you’re stuck. It feels like a constant failure, but one you get past that roadblock, you feel better.”
Gonzalez warns that if students don’t enjoy the classes, they won’t last long in the field.
“The job has long hours and you must be a perfectionist in transcribing,” Gonzalez said. “It’s all part of the job though. It’s like being a doctor; you’re doing something rewarding by helping people in their time of need.”