By Sarah E. Vestrat
Like running a marathon, speedbuilding requires a fiercely determined attitude that can only be accessed beneath our sometimes whimsical desires for pleasure and accomplishment. Pushing to the next speed level demands strength, drive, tenacity, and courage – those character traits that can make us uncomfortable, yet focused and forceful. Those traits emerge when we have a goal that we feel is really worthwhile, and when we find that goal, we can find motivation.
As students, you must find this motivation to succeed within yourself. And you cannot do that unless you have first considered other options and goals, weighed the pros and cons, and have decided that for many reasons court reporting and/or captioning is the career you want to pursue. These reasons are your reasons. No one else can make you want to reach your goal badly enough to make sacrifices and to discipline yourself to achieve it. So when you feel your ambition draining, review the reasons why you are in court reporting school. Consider writing down your reasons and putting this list in a prominent place where you will see it and can read it every day to give yourself a motivational boost. It is nice to have others encourage you, but do not rely on others to give you your motivation. Only you can do that.
Visit working reporters
Visit the professionals in the field. Freelancers, officials, and captioners will each have their own unique perspective and advice to offer you. Observe them as they work, if possible. Ask them about their job, what they like and what they do not like about it. Learn all you can about the day-to-day duties of the profession. This will help you to affirm your reasons and decision for pursuing this career and can help you to develop a strong commitment to your goal. And the more professional contacts you make, the easier it will be to see yourself as a working reporter and feel that you, too, are a member of the court reporting community.
Remember the great things about being a court reporter or captioner
- Many job opportunities. You can enjoy the flexible hours of being a freelance court reporter. You could even own your own court reporting firm. Or you can become a broadcast captioner and work for a captioning company. Or you can have the stability of being an official court reporter and working in court. You could also provide CART for the deaf or the hearing-impaired. Court reporters are also needed to report meetings for state and national conventions. Congressional reporting is yet another field a student may pursue. You could even consider teaching court reporting.
- The money. Most court reporters are well paid and can increase their salaries by gaining further certification and by taking more jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual earnings for a court reporter were $49,860 in May of 2014. The highest paid 10 percent earned more than $94,140 in 2014. Some court reporters make over $100,000 per year. Check www.bls.gov for their latest update on earnings.
- Interesting work. Reporting for depositions, court, education, meetings, or broadcasting involves a wide variety of subject matter. You will meet many people in different occupations and situations. You will learn a great deal from this exposure.
- Comfortable working conditions. You can make your workspace as enjoyable as you desire if you freelance or become a broadcast captioner and work at home. If you report depositions, they are usually conducted in pleasant surroundings at the attorney’s office or the office of the witness. Official court reporters have their own private offices at the courthouse. CART providers work in various locations, such as classrooms, meeting halls, courtrooms, and businesses. You will work with other professionals, many of whom are at the top of their fields.
- Respect from others. The court reporting and captioning field is well-respected. People are fascinated by the job and will inquire about the details of what you do. “Certified Shorthand Reporter,” “Registered Professional Reporter,” and all of the other specialty certifications reporters can acquire take tremendous effort and skill to attain, which makes the reporting field a unique and respected niche.
- Self-respect. Your desire to improve your life and achieve your goal can
help to bolster your self-esteem and self-respect. A worthy achievement is a source of pride.
Making up your mind
Review often the reasons that have made you decide to pursue this career and add to those reasons whenever you can. When you fully understand this profession and what it takes to succeed in school, and when you have truly made up your mind that this is what you want — to become a court reporter or captioner — you have already taken some very crucial steps towards reaching your goal. Hard work, perseverance, self-discipline – and motivation — can then follow.
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.” — Abraham Lincoln
Sarah E. Vestrat is the author of Student Guide to Success in Court Reporting School published by Avitus Press. She lives in Broken Arrow, Okla, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Portions of this article were excerpted from the book, Student Guide to Success in Court Reporting School, by Sarah E. Vestrat.