Certifications are one of the most visible benefits of NCRA membership. “Our certifications showcase our competence, our dedication, our ethical standards, and our personal responsibility for the record,” says NCRA President Debbie Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC. Members of the NCRA Membership Committee weigh in on what getting certified means to them.
By Margary Rogers
As the chair of the NCRA Membership Committee, I would like to say thank you for being an NCRA member. I would also like to wish you a happy Celebrate Certification Month. This is the month that NCRA celebrates its members who have obtained NCRA certifications and those who are striving to obtain them. Certification sets you apart and is your banner that says: “I worked hard; I take pride in my profession and my skills; I have satisfied the requirements to report a verbatim record of the spoken proceedings and produce an accurate transcript.” As a certified reporter, you are telling your customers: “I got this. You can trust that you will receive an accurate transcript to the best of my certified ability.”
As members of NCRA striving to obtain more certifications, we know that money plays a big part when deciding whether to take one leg of a certification test or take the CRR or CRC. If you are a nonmember, there is a huge difference in cost. Nonmembers pay $25-$30 more per test than members. Earning your certifications leads you to earn more income, which overwhelmingly covers annual NCRA membership fees. CRR is the certification that I am striving for because realtime is the heartbeat of our profession. Today our end users, our clients, request realtime feeds all the time.
One of the reasons why I created the “Stenographers Leveling up with Certifications” Facebook group was to create a place where like-minded court reporters could support and celebrate each other when we pass or fail certification tests. It’s also a place to learn about new certification rules, certification testing dates, and to understand the importance of obtaining certifications. It’s so rewarding to see reporters support and cheer each other on in the comments section of the Facebook page. It’s also great to see the online testing questions that come through and for others to be able to answer them. But the “Stenographers Leveling up with Certifications” group would not exist if NCRA did not create the opportunity for its members to be nationally certified.
Are you an NCRA member? Are you receiving all the money-saving opportunities and discounts on certification tests? One of the best investments as an NCRA member is obtaining your certifications. And who doesn’t love having the “wall of certs” hanging in their office behind them in their photos or displayed during their Zoom meeting?
Margary Rogers, RPR, CRI, an official court reporter and CART captioner based in Washington, D.C., is Chair of the NCRA Membership Committee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Rich Germosen
I’ll start off by wishing everyone a happy Celebrate Certification Month! I was asked to be on the NCRA Membership Committee last summer by President Debbie Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC, and I accepted. I wanted to help with NCRA membership in any way that I could. Keeping and retaining members in all professional organizations is a real challenge these years. I believe we should all be members of our national Association as well as our state associations. It’s also a great idea to become a member of one or more state associations in your surrounding area. Things that are happening in a neighboring state will eventually make their way to your state.
I’ve been a member of NCRA on and off since 1992 or 1993. In the 1990s, I earned the RPR as well as the CRR certifications. I like having my certs listed in my email signature. It reminds agencies of the certifications that I’ve worked hard to attain. At one point I let my membership go, along with my RPR and CRR certs. I didn’t feel that I needed them, so why bother? Well, that lasted two or three years until I started feeling a little strange and wanted them back. So I retested and passed the RPR and the CRR again in the early aughts. Certifications give you confidence. I passed the RMR in 2005, and after several attempts, I passed the RDR in 2019.
I run a 100-day practice page on Facebook. We all have a common goal on that page. That goal is to improve a little bit each day and max out on our certs. A wise woman once told me to surround myself with people who want to improve. If you do this, you will learn from those folks around you who are trying to improve just as you are. We have a long list of certification passers on the practice page. It is a long and beautiful list and brings a smile to my face each time I add another cert passer to it. Imagine a world where each stenographer has the ultimate goal of passing the RMR. If you can write 260 wpm Q&A, then your life on the record will be so much easier.
People do speak faster than 225 wpm in 2022. I’ve been doing this almost 30 years, and I’ve seen the increase in speed more and more as the years go by. If you’re an RMR, you’re able to tackle that testimony and those fast speakers on a daily basis.
Please make the RMR your goal. It will help you, and it will make us shine as a profession. Even though all states do not require certifications, make it your mission to improve your skills to the point where you can pass that RMR and you will fall in love with stenography all over again.
If you’re an official court reporter and you are not an RMR/CRR, you are leaving many dollars on the table. Someone recently posted on Facebook about a federal officialship opening up in Miami where the starting salary is $90,000 with your RPR; almost $95,000 with your RMR; level three is $99,000; and level four is almost $104,000 with an RMR and CRR. That’s a $14,000 difference because you’ve dedicated yourself to improving your skills and have your RMR and your CRR. If you multiply that amount by 20 years, that’s a difference of $280,000.
That’s a lot of money left on the table. I can’t stress enough the importance of certification. Certification will boost your confidence. You will become a better stenographer on the road to your earning your RMR and CRR. Get your RMR, get your CRR, and be proud of those achievements as well as increase your income in the process.
Would you go to a surgeon or dentist who didn’t have his or her license or just had the bare bones minimum certification that they needed? No, you’d probably want to go to someone who had a lot of experience and a lot of certifications; at least I know I would.
Rich Germosen, RDR, CRR, a freelancer and agency owner, is a member of the NCRA Membership Committee and an NCRF Trustee. He can be reached at email@example.com.
By Debbie Dibble
The value of certifications is … priceless. There are as many ways to calculate the return on investment from certifications as there are colors in the rainbow, but let’s start with the low-hanging fruit: The benefit you receive when you are as good as you say you are. We can profess the superiority of stenographers, but without first-person experience it can easily be dismissed as lip service. Certifications are the evidence that you have met a threshold of competence on which your clients can rely.
In addition to benchmarking proficiency, certifications are also a sign of character. Passing tests and attaining certs proves you are investing in yourself and that you are devoted to your personal and professional growth. Your commitment to excellence will be recognized by those in the industry; those with the right letters after their names will certainly be chosen first for the higher-profile, more lucrative work.
One of the greatest benefits of our profession is flexibility, not only in the ways we use our skills, but in the portability of those skills. Right now you may be in a state or a position that doesn’t require certification, but could that change? Unfortunately, a change in our circumstances is always possible and can occur with little to no warning. You may be a freelancer, an official, or both, and something shifts in your life to where you decide captioning is your future. If you have already made the efforts to understand what steps you need to undertake that transition and maybe even already earned your CRC certification, when your dream job comes along you will be ready to apply and not risk losing that opportunity to someone certified and ready to take on the position. What if your spouse has a change of employment and you suddenly find yourself in a state that requires certification? Or what if you need to relocate to care for an aging parent, a sick child, or to help with grandchildren? If you are certified, you are ready to tackle those changes in your life without hesitation and without losing valuable time trying to get certified after the fact.
Let’s wrap up with the most important reason of all: Certifications set us apart from alternative methods. Our certifications showcase our competence, our dedication, our ethical standards, and our personal responsibility for the record. Showing our accreditations have meaning and value is our irrefutable evidence to prove to the industry, to our end users, and most especially to the public that we are the superior method of keeping the record. That value is PRICELESS!
NCRA President Debbie Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC, is a freelance court reporter and captioner from Salt Lake City, Utah. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not a member? Learn more about the benefits of NCRA membership.