Coming soon, fan favorites from NCRA’s Connect Virtual 2020

If you missed NCRA’s Connect Virtual 2020 conference, don’t worry. On Oct. 1 six of the fan favorite sessions that were recorded will be available as e-sessions for purchase. The cost for each session is $55 for members and $79 for nonmembers. Each of the sessions are worth 0.1 CEU.

The e-sessions being offered include the following:

Reporters and Gadgets and Apps — Oh, My!
Presented by Lynette Mueller, RDR, CRR

Learn to be self-sufficient, productive, efficient, and courageous in your everyday professional life! Lynette Mueller will share the gadgets, apps, and other resources that assist her to meet the many challenges that may arise in the deposition or courtroom setting. She will also talk about the workflow she uses after the job — work smarter, not harder! This session will wind up with discussion from the audience and sharing other gadgets that have helped them along their “Yellow Brick Road.”

Ethics Jeopardy
Presented by Andrea Kreutz , CLVS, Mindy Sindiong, CLVS, LaJuana Pruitt, CLVS, Tim Janes, CLVS

Come join an educational game show where contestants will answer everyday videographer scenarios. Categories include Remote Depositions, The Secret World, and It’s Not That Kind of Video.

Just Okay is NOT Okay; Is YOUR Realtime Good Enough?
Presented by Anissa Nierenberger, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI

While realtime does not mean perfection, how do you know if your realtime measures up as a sellable product? Let’s look beyond the gray and examine concrete, real-world examples of what is great, good, and just okay. Just because you can read through it doesn’t mean that your clients can. Anissa Nierenberger will debunk untranslate rate myths and other misperceptions about quality realtime. She’ll also provide solutions to common stacking and easy brief ideas, as well as explain why you should be editing in a way that school never taught you! If you’ve felt “in the dark” regarding realtime standards, you won’t want to miss this presentation!

Social Media Bootcamp
Presented by Cathy O’Neal

What social media should I use? When should I post? How often? What should I say? Do I have to answer every stupid comment? Can’t someone else just do it for me? Social media can be just one more chore, or it can help you gain visibility, reputation, and clients. Learn the who, what, when, where, and why of social media from a seasoned communications pro who finished 2019 with a 3.2 million Facebook reach! Weed out the stuff you don’t need, focus on the stuff you do need, and walk away from the session with action items you can do that day to start building the social media presence you want.

Work Smarter, Not Harder
Presented by Allison Hall, RMR, CRR

Are you running your transcript load, or is it running you? Are you dreaming about weekends to yourself and vacations where the laptop stays at home? “Work Smarter, Not Harder” will teach you ways to up your efficiency, increase your productivity, and reduce the amount of stress in a high-stress field.

Marking Exhibits Electronically for Remote Proceedings
Presented by Rene White Moarefi, RPR, CRR

This session will cover the steps for marking exhibits electronically during remote proceedings, including download and setup of electronic exhibit stamps.

For more information or to purchase any of these sessions beginning Oct. 1, click here.

Court reporter earns national certification

The San Diego Union-Tribune posted a press release on Sept. 10 issued by NCRA announcing that Erica Varquez of Carlsbad has earned her Registered Professional Reporter certification.

Read more.

Taking exams in lockdown

By Leah Willersdorf

As I write this, here in the United Kingdom I am coming toward the end of week 12 of having had no work due to the pandemic. It is what it is. But what’s a girl to do when she knows no different to travelling the world with her passport in one hand and pulling her steno machine (and numerous iPads) along in the other? Why, sit down at home and  practice every day, of course. Well, almost every day.

I began by taking down our governmental daily briefings on TV and adding plenty of new words to my dictionary. Then, as COVID-19 well and truly took hold of London, I realised that I had to settle in for the long haul and had to find better ways to practice because, to be honest, I didn’t want to hear about COVID day in and day out. And so it was on 28 April I decided to register for the RPR.

I am a Australian reporter who has lived in London for 25 years and have been accredited with the British Institute of Verbatim Reporters for as long as I can remember and have also passed their Qualified Realtime Reporter (QRR) exams at levels 1 and 2, but I have never taken an online exam before in any country and I have to say I was a little worried that the online platforms would be my downfall, not my actual skill. The only exams I have ever taken have been in a room with other stenographers, which isn’t exactly a silent affair, but to be able to do it in the comfort of your own home was a novel experience, that’s for sure, and, boy, did I have a few experiences!

I bought the SmartPrep package for the exams on Realtime Coach. I was unfamiliar with this platform but soon got used to it. I will say that in some of the pieces, the errors it gives are incorrect, but if you see one, please, please take a screenshot of it and the practice session you’re in, and send it to the folks at Realtime Coach so they can correct the text. If they’re not told, they will never know. In total, I think I sent five through.

I practiced for varying times each day, except weekends. One day I sat down to do it for an hour, only to look at the clock and realise that three hours had gone by. It really is quite addictive. And fun! But isn’t steno anyway?!

I did my exams on three consecutive Fridays during May, the Celebrate Certifications month. First up was the jury charge. I had done the proctored practice test, which gives you the exact experience of the examination process. Well, not so exact because I didn’t have all those belly butterflies that we get in exam situations. First off, during this situation we are living in, do expect to wait for a technician. On exam day, I waited for just under an hour, which, yes, is prolonging the exam angst, and then I was transferred from technician to technician to technician, which further added to it, but it can’t be helped; so please do be prepared that that may happen to you and that also taking a proctored practice test is highly recommended.

When I finally was assigned a proctor, he didn’t verbalise his instructions like the one on the proctored practice did; instead, he used the chat box. I guess it was plausible that could happen, but it hadn’t entered my mind because I was expecting the exact process as the proctored practice. Then, at one point, somehow when he was taking control of my computer and doing stuff, my task bar at the bottom of my screen disappeared, as did the chat box. Because I had no task bar, I didn’t know how to minimise the screen to see if the chat box was sitting behind it. I began to panic a little. All of a sudden, the task bar came back, and the chat box was there so I was able to follow his instructions. Talk about a little extra stress when you’ve already been waiting for a while. Still, it was time to do the exam, so all of that went by the by.

Moral of this story: Stay calm. Let the proctor do their thing. Keep an eye on that chat box. Breathe.

Outcome: Jury charge passed 99 percent.

Next up was the testimony portion. Now au fait with both the Realtime Coach and ProctorU platforms, it was just a matter of practicing until the big day and taking each step of the process as it came. One and a half hours before I was due to log in to the ProctorU site, I heard a drilling noise in my surroundings. I live in the middle floor of a three-storey block of six flats. There’s been nobody upstairs during the pandemic as it was being renovated, but exam day, of all days, they decided they needed to pop in and do a few bits and pieces. I went upstairs and politely asked when they would be finished and explained that I was doing an exam. Well, the drilling would be finished but the carpet fitter was due midway through my exam apparently. Thankfully, I didn’t hear a peep.

However, I did have a technical issue when uploading my transcript where it seemed to get stuck in a loop; you know the kind when the wheel just goes round and round and round. And round. After last week’s loss-of-task-bar panic stations and being a little unnerved by the technician, this surely could not be happening! I found myself wondering if it doesn’t correct itself, what’s the worst thing that could happen here. I don’t pass? Well, I can’t pass if I can’t upload a transcript, right? I’d just have to resit the exam, so not the end of the world, just a bit of a hassle. Before admitting technical defeat to what turned out to be an issue on my end, unbeknownst to me, I contacted my proctor via the chat box because my instinct was telling me to refresh the page. The proctor said not to, and I absolutely had to be guided by her. Time was ticking by, but I had 54 minutes to go when I first started in the loop de loop, and 20ish had already passed. She went away, made a few enquiries with her manager, and I was able to email my transcript to the NCRA, along with my steno notes, all under the guidance and view of the proctor. Phewy, I won’t have to sit it again after all! Or so I thought.

Moral of this story: Don’t get flustered if you experience a technical issue. Stop and think. Listen to your proctor’s advice. Breathe.

Outcome: Found out on 8 June that my exam was not able to be graded because, in my haste, I uploaded a practice test.

Moral of the outcome: Don’t get flustered. Don’t kick yourself. Just accept you’ll have to sit it again. You know you can do it!

And, finally, the last Friday of May 2020 saw me take the literary leg. I was due to log into ProctorU at 1:20 p.m., and so I spent my morning practicing, using the Internet Explorer browser, and running equipment tests. All was A-OK. Well, it was from about 8.30 a.m. to 10.29 a.m., but at 10.30 I figured I’d open up RTC in Chrome using my NCRA credentials. I couldn’t navigate in Chrome and so I went back to IE. Nothing. Got out my second laptop and tried the same thing. Nope. The internet at large was playing games with me. I knew something had to happen today because of the last two exams, but I got through those and I would get through this. So I then tried my desktop and it was the same. I couldn’t even get onto the NCRA website nor RTC’s. I messaged a friend and asked her if she could get on because maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t a Leah issue but an issue with their websites. Ha! Of course I didn’t really believe that. I turned the wifi off on my phone and was able to use the 4G, so I then knew it had to be my fibre optic broadband. I turned everything off, put the kettle on to make a cuppa and then set up my mobile router I take to depositions (just in case the law firm’s wifi is miserable). I straightaway tested my equipment on ProctorU. Mifi to the rescue!! I kept the home router off, as well as all but one computer, in order to do the exam. Potential disaster #1 diverted. Breathe.

But then – what, there’s more? – at midday the gardeners turned up with their strimmers to trim the hedges. Okay, fine, I have one hour and 20 minutes until I need to log on. Surely they’ll be done in time. Oh, but then they had to get the blower out to blow the strimmings. And so it was with three minutes 30 seconds to spare, the strimmers stopped, the blowers blew out, and potential disaster #2 was also diverted. I took one last sip of water, put my machine in test mode, and as I watched that counter go down to start my session, I imagined hearing the words “Ready. Begin,” with all my internet/gardening issues now well and truly behind me.

Moral of this story: Take each obstacle which comes your way one at a time. Have a backup for your internet because you may just have to reschedule the exam if you don’t. Thank your gardeners.

Outcome: Literary passed 99 percent.

To anybody taking exams soon or in future, I found Realtime Coach and ProctorU easy-to-use platforms. In the exam process, take your time and don’t rush. Easier said than done, I know. I took big, deep breaths before pressing Play. There’s no time limit before pressing that Play button, not that I could see anyway. Relax, breathe, and focus. Close your eyes if you have to. I did.

I do wish they graded these transcription exams with a decimal point; after all, that’s what we are looking at every day if we have our stats up on our software screen. For example, say you got 94.8 percent, and the pass is 95 percent, a decimal point grading gives you an exact idea of where you are on that spectrum between 94 and 95, i.e., sooo close, and that in itself can be a huge boost to your confidence.

UPDATE 08/24/20: As we enter Week 24 of the pandemic here, I am delighted to say that not only did I pass the testimony leg in mid-July at 98 percentAND it was free of any incidents — but two days after that, I traveled into central London for the first time in months (an eerie feeling) where I sat and passed the WKT. I honestly did not think I was successful.  As I walked toward the man on reception, I was shaking my head and giving a thumbs down, but even behind his mask I could tell he was smiling.

My tips for the WKT:  Get a good night’s sleep. Read the questions and the answers. Sounds obvious, I know.

Before all of this, the only kind of long haul I’d experienced was flights, but in a way I have to thank the London lockdown for getting me well on the way to my RPR. The CRR is already booked for September!

Leah Willersdorf is a freelance court reporter and captioner based in London. She can be reached at courtreporterlondon@gmail.com.

Written Knowledge Tests move online

NCRA is excited to announce candidates will soon be able to take our Written Knowledge Tests from the comfort of the location you choose. Starting with our October 2020 Written Knowledge Tests, all WKTs will be given online through Pearson Vue four times a year (January, April, July, October). That’s right! It’s now possible to take your Written Knowledge Test online through Pearson Vue. Registration is open Sept. 1-30 to sign up to take the online WKT from Oct. 8-22.

Member feedback requesting online options and the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions for in-person opportunities for testing solidified NCRA’s Certification and Testing team’s plans to expedite changes to the administration of our Written Knowledge Tests.

Candidates will continue to register with NCRA for their test and receive a con­firmation email within three business days of registering that will include scheduling instructions for the test.

Candidates will schedule their test through www.pearsonvue.com/ncra and log on at their scheduled date and time within our testing window to take their test. Candidates will take their multiple-choice exam online while monitored by Pearson Vue proctors.

“COVID-19 has us expediting several initiatives we had planned for 2021. By switching to online testing, we will be able to offer all WKTs giving candidates more opportunities to test throughout the year,” said Cynthia Bruce Andrews, NCRA Senior Director of Education and Certification. “The online testing instructions are a little different than the Skills Test; therefore, candidates are encouraged to read the instructions thoroughly,” she added.

“I believe NCRA’s decision to move the RDR, RPR, CLVS, and CRC tests fully online will result in more people earning those certifications,” said Brook Nunn, RPR, CRR, CRC, a captioner from Boise, Idaho.

“Simply put, it’s just more convenient. If we can take the Skills Tests online, the Written Tests should be even more straightforward. This is a win for everyone!” she added.

Technology requirements and full directions for the new online testing are available at NCRA.org/wkt. NCRA will continue to send all official results within four weeks of the close of our testing window via the email address on file with NCRA.

Caption Masters program offers new opportunity for experienced CRC candidates

NCRA has announced that the Caption Masters program is now a prequalified training course for the Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC). For certification candidates who are experienced in the field, the addition of the Caption Masters program as an alternative to NCRA’s mandatory CRC workshop offers a new learning opportunity in meeting the requirements to earn the nationally recognized professional certification. Candidates completing the Caption Masters Training program from 2018 forward are eligible to take advantage of this new opportunity.

“NCRA is happy to announce this new opportunity for aspiring captioners pursuing the CRC credential. We recognize that the Caption Masters program provides training that further expands a candidate’s captioning skills,” said Cynthia Bruce Andrews, NCRA Senior Director of Education & Certification.

“At a time when professionally trained captioners are in extremely high demand, I’m excited to help reporters transition into captioning with LearnToCaption.com’s 16-week Caption Masters course. Taking and passing the CRC exam after the course will open doors to endless opportunities,” said Anissa Nierenberger, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI, a captioner from Boise, Idaho, and owner of Caption Masters.

To earn the NCRA CRC certification, candidates must either complete the CRC Workshop or take the Caption Masters training program, as well as pass the NCRA Written Knowledge Test (WKT) and an online skills test for the CRC, which consists of literary matter at 180 words per minute.

The NCRA CRC Workshop is 10-and-a-half hours of online captioning education and is designed to prepare candidates relatively new to the captioning field for the CRC Written Knowledge Test, while the Caption Masters program provides a more intense curriculum of learning geared toward more experienced candidates.

Learn more information about the CRC certification and its requirements at NCRA.org/certification.

Attention Online Skills or Written Knowledge Test candidates

NCRA members and nonmembers registering for Online Skills Tests or Written Knowledge Tests this month are urged to read before they register to make sure they are fully prepared to test in July.

Online Skills Tests

Registration for Online Skills Tests for the RSR, RPR, RMR, CRR, and CRC certifications is open now through June 20 with testing dates available July 1 through 20.

Online Skills Test candidates should note that an external webcam is required for online testing. Be aware that the COVID-19 pandemic has created a huge demand for webcams. Given this information, candidates should not register to test unless they have an external webcam to use and have completely read all of the technical requirements needed to test online.

Once candidates register with NCRA, they will receive a confirmation email from Realtime Coach within three business days. Their confirmation email will contain scheduling information for their test. Candidates are reminded upon receipt of their confirmation to schedule their test. All tests must be scheduled 72 hours in advance. If you do not receive a confirmation email within three business days of registration, please contact testing@ncra.org.

Online Skills Candidates should note:

  • Candidates are encouraged to schedule their tests as soon as possible. There are a finite number of appointments available on each day, and they are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Wait times may be longer than normal and during peak times may be up to 30 minutes.
  • Candidates are encouraged to test their equipment prior to exam day and should take advantage of doing a proctored practice exam to aid in this process.

NCRA’s Testing Department is collaborating with ProctorU to do everything conceivable to keep wait times as low as possible, but the current COVID-19 situation has created extenuating circumstances. Connection times with proctors may be longer than the less-than-15-minutes normal and could average 30 minutes or more due to the increased demand. For more information contact testing@ncra.org.

Written Knowledge Tests

Registration for the Written Knowledge Tests for the RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS certifications is open now through June 30 with testing available July 9-23. Candidates are urged to schedule the WKT with Pearson VUE, NCRA’s testing partner, upon receipt of their confirmation email with scheduling instructions. Please note that although additional testing centers have been added, the capacity at centers has been reduced due to COVID-19 restrictions. Scheduling early gives candidates the best chance at getting a slot at the testing center most convenient to their location. Be sure to visit https://home.pearsonvue.com/ncra for the listing of test center locations.

NCRA’s Certification and Testing Team would like to wish the best of luck to all of our candidates testing in July!

Facebook group celebrates certifications

Margary Rogers, RPR, CRI, recently started the Facebook group Stenographers Leveling up with Certifications. She talked to the JCR Weekly about what she hoped to accomplish with the group.

JCR | What gave you the idea for the group?

MR | The main reason I created this group is to encourage stenographers, including myself, to level up and take and successfully pass certifications tests. I wanted to provide a safe space for test-takers. There are many reporters who fear taking tests; many are embarrassed that they haven’t passed tests after many tries. I also wanted experienced reporters who obtained the highest level of certifications to join the group to encourage, train, mentor, and provide answers to questions that many reporters have. I want reporters to know that we are all in this together and that we have to help each other and celebrate each other when we fail and when we pass. This is a no-judgment-zone group. We learn from each other and support each other.

I am also a Certified Reporting Instructor (CRI). So I, along with other test-taking experts and highly decorated certificate holders, post test-taking tips, online testing tips, and test practice links. I also like to keep members of the group abreast of what tests are being offered and registration dates. Even though NCRA sends out weekly reminders of events, I thought having a page specifically based on certifications will keep people focused on their goal of obtaining certifications.

JCR | What do you hope to accomplish with the group?

MR | I firmly believe in teamwork. My desire is to have all members share test-taking strategies, common test-taking mistakes, post pictures of testing set-ups, how they prepare for tests, provide practice material, tips on how to write smarter, and discuss smart software settings. I want to hear good reports. I want to hear: “I passed the test that I have been trying to pass for the last five years.” I want to hear: “Ok, I am going to take an online test for the first time.” We also like to celebrate and acknowledge members when they pass tests and become certified. We want to celebrate every stenographic testing achievement and lessons learned.

What’s really ironic is at the time I created and launched this page on March 6, 2020, I had no idea that NCRA had a Celebrate Certification Month. When I realized May was Celebrate Certification Month and May 1 was the first day of online testing, I thought I have to do something big to celebrate the month with this group. We have to get some great, well-respected, certified leaders to come and encourage the members of this group during this month.

NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI

The first thought I had was, who is better than the president of NCRA, along with the leadership team, to encourage Stenographers Leveling up with Certifications members about obtaining certifications. I was very excited and honored to have President Max Curry, RPR, CRI; President-Elect Christine Phipps, RPR; Vice-President Debbie Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC; and Immediate-Past President Sue Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, join our Celebrate Certification Month Zoom events during the month of May. They all provided great advice. They were all down-to-earth and realistic.

Kim Xavier, RDR, CRR, CRC, CMRS, CRI, a highly experienced court reporter who has obtained many NCRA certifications, was also one of our speakers for our Zoom event. She gave great test-taking advice, and she has also contributed to our group by giving encouraging words to our members.

Another reason that I created the group is because I have always been concerned about the disparity with stenographers of color not having court reporting certifications and realtime certifications. I also recognized that some freelance reporters had more of a hustler mentality, and some officials had more of a complacent mentality or are more comfortable with the status quo, me included. I have also been concerned about not seeing reporters of color participating/represented in Speed and Realtime contests.

JCR | What is your personal certification story?

MR | The certificate that I am most proud of is my Bachelor of Science degree in court reporting from Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, which I earned in 2000. I have also obtained the RPR and the CRI, which are NCRA certifications, and I also earned NCRA’s Realtime Systems Administrator. I am geared up now and hoping to pass the RMR and CRC between now, 2020, and 2021.

JCR | Are you welcoming new members to the group?

MR | The group is always open to new members, members who would like to learn more about obtaining certifications, receive alerts about when online test registration opens and closes, and helpful tips about taking tests online. We also focus on writing cleaner to pass the CRC and CRR tests, writing “Real Realtime” as Anissa Nierenberger, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI, says. Anissa is one of the top contributors to our page. She’s phenomenal. She’s very quick to answer questions that are posed by members of the group. I truly appreciate her and everyone else that contributes to the page to help others.

We also welcome contributors, coaches, and highly decorated, experienced certificate holders to help, train, and encourage those of us who are working toward earning certs. On our page, we have a mentorship program where experienced reporters with certifications are matched up with reporters who want or need help to level up.

Margary Rogers, RPR, CRI, is an official court reporter in Washington, D.C.

Former court reporter celebrates her CLVS certification

Chandler Alvino, left, and Deborah Alvino, RPR, CRR, CRC, CLVS

Deborah Alvino, RPR, CRR, CRC — and CLVS — has been a member of NCRA for about 20 years. A former official and freelance court reporter who holds several professional certifications marking her stenographic skills, Alvino said she was motivated to earn the CLVS certification after a car accident that left her with torn cartilage in her wrist that required two surgeries to repair the damage.

Today she works as a full-time legal videographer and is owner of Coastal Legal Video Specialists, in Pismo Beach, Calif., a firm that provides an array of video services, including depositions, synchronized video with a reporter’s transcripts, day-in-the-life videos, video mediation documents, last will and testament recording, construction videos, sworn statements, and more. Her firm has clients in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties.

“I had been an official and then freelance reporter for 15 years and just got certified as a broadcast captioner, but I was not able to report after nerve damage caused by one of the wrist surgeries,” Alvino said. 

“I really missed reporting and seeing my wonderful reporter friends, so I reinvented myself, got trained and certified as a CLVS, and started Coastal Legal Video Specialists on the central coast of California in 2012,” which she notes has now become a family affair. 

“My son Dalton and my daughter Chandler have since joined me in the business. After being a videographer for a year, Chandler decided to go to court reporting school also and is now a high-speed student getting ready to take the RPR test and then the California CSR. I’m so proud of her and so happy that we will have another excellent reporter soon,” she added.

Alvino said she uses her videography skills on a daily basis, whether she’s in a deposition (or now working remotely during quarantine), at a site inspection, will signing, press release for a law firm, or a judicial awards ceremony.

She said the greatest benefit of earning her CLVS certification is being recognized as a trained, qualified professional in her field by reporting agencies and attorneys, since not all videographers know about legal video procedures, technology, ethics, or even how to act in a legal setting. 

“I would encourage others to earn the CLVS certification because you never know when you may need the skills, even if you are primarily still reporting.  I absolutely love working alongside my reporter friends and helping make their jobs a little easier by providing great audio, the best chair in the office, looking up spellings, and giving them just any support that they need.”

Certifications show pride in the profession

Jason T. Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC

In honor of Celebrate Certification Month, the JCR Weekly reached out to two esteemed veteran NCRA members to find out what impact earning professional certifications has had on the success of their careers. We heard from Jason T. Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, a freelance court reporter and firm owner from Fort Collins, Colo., and NCRA Director; and Donna Urlaub, RMR, CRR, a freelance court reporter and agency owner from Chicago, Ill., and frequent participant in state, national, and international speed and realtime contests. Here’s what they had to say:

JCR | How long have you been a working court reporter or captioner?

Donna Urlaub, RMR, CRR

DU | I sat for the Illinois CSR in September of 1969. This is my 51st year in reporting.

JM | Forty-five years. Three-and-a-half years as a voice reporter for courts-martial, the rest in steno years as official and freelance with a smattering of captioning jobs.

JCR | At what point in your career did you begin pursuing your NCRA certifications?

DU | In my third year, 1972, I took and passed both the Certificate of Proficiency and Certificate of Merit on the same day. Back then, it was very casual, no need even to sign up in advance. And I received these cool pins with the “flying hand” holding a quill. The CP had a little red gemstone; the CM had a little diamond chip. Sadly, I have no idea what happened to them.

JM | Immediately after reporting school.

JCR | Why was it important for you to earn these certifications?

DU | The firm where I worked at the time had two merit writers out of maybe 30 reporters. That fact stood out to me, and I held them in high esteem. I was so young, a rookie surrounded by accomplished and experienced reporters. Attaining the CM was one way of measuring up to reporters who represented the gold standard in my sphere. 

JM | To qualify for the work I wanted. To demonstrate to the world at large that I had the needed qualifications to do the work.

JCR | How valuable have these certifications been to you and your career?

DU | Having the CM was a source of great pride and confidence in my abilities. It was the pinnacle before realtime and the CRR and meant that I had proven myself capable of any assignment that came my way. It gave me the confidence to start my own firm, which I did in 1985. After typing and dictating transcripts for 11 years, I went to CAT in 1980. Once the CRR was introduced, I had to have it! 

JM | Essential. The RPR allowed me to work as an official in Colorado. The CRR was required for my first international realtime assignments. The then-CCP, now CRC, was required for many weeks, over the course of years, of captioning work that I did in Alaska.

JCR | What would you say to encourage others to pursue certification? 

DU | Do it for yourself. Do everything you can to be a professional: your appearance, your comportment, your level of skill that is on display.  

JM | Good first impressions are critical. If your first impression when seeking work is certifiably proving that you possess the necessary skills, it’s a good one.

JCR | What would you say is the greatest benefit of holding professional certifications?   

DU | The key words here are “professional” and “confident.” You are a confident professional when you strive to prove you are the best that you can be in your chosen field. 

JM | Pride in profession and professional competence. Increased hiring potential.

Registered Skilled Reporter certification seen by candidates as a confidence launcher

In January 2020, NCRA launched the Registered Skilled Reporter (RSR), a new certification designed to serve as a stepping-stone for aspiring court reporters or those returning to the profession who have not yet gotten their speeds up enough to earn the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) certification.

For those who earn it, the RSR certification offers the prestige of an NCRA certification; demonstrates their ability to hold a verified level of skill to current and potential clients, current and potential employers, and fellow reporters; and offers them a foothold on the path to growing their skills by earning additional certifications in the future.

Giana Di Nella

“After being out of school for court reporting since 2013 and leaving my machine shortly after, I randomly had a desire to get back into court reporting,” said Giana Di Nella from Chicago, Ill., who will be testing for the RSR this month.

“It just so happened to be that this new certification was being offered. I was excited to test and pass two out of the three legs shortly after. I think it’s wonderful that the RSR gives you the same testing experience as the RPR and grows your confidence in testing and your writing while earning a few more letters after your name at the same time.”

Di Nella  said she finished school at 200 words per minute in 2013 at Prince Institute in Schaumburg, Ill. She later enrolled in the court reporting program at MacCormac College in Chicago and has been practicing her writing and testing through the EV360 program.

“While the RPR is my main goal, I strongly believe that any employer and client will appreciate the dedication and extra proficiency that the RSR offers. It’s a win-win!” she noted.

Dorene Glover

Dorene Glover, a freelance court reporter from the Bronx, N.Y., has been working as a freelance court reporter since 2007. She is testing for the RSR as well this month. “It can give me confidence to take the RPR.”

Current or aspiring stenographic reporters are eligible to earn the RSR and do not need to be members of NCRA to take the RSR tests; however, candidates do need to become members to actively hold the RSR.

Candidates seeking the RSR need to pass three 5-minute Skills Tests:

  • RSR Literary at 160 words per minute
  • RSR Jury Charge at 180 words per minute
  • RSR Testimony/Q&A at 200 words per minute

To pass, an accuracy level of 95 percent is required for each leg.

“It is hard work and practice, but it will be worth it when it is over,” Glover said, and added that, along with the hard work and practice, there will be “more opportunities for jobs and more income.”