The average stenographer salary ranges from $35,000 - $75,000 per year, based on experience as well as location. The vast majority of stenographers work for local municipalities as well as judicial offices, but there are quite a few who freelance or have positions in law firms, or other agencies that require a verbatim record of verbal conversation throughout proceedings. Training takes anywhere from one to four years, and there are a number of options available that students can take advantage of in order to become adequately prepared for a career as a court reporter or stenographer.
If you are thinking about a career as a stenographer, it is important that you choose a school that is recognized and accredited. This will help you to receive the proper training and become familiar with the intricacies of this particular field of study. However, most training programs only provide foundational and basic introduction, and much of the skills you will learn will occur on the job, and over the course of time. If you plan on working in a court room, there are different types of court reporting options. One is the traditional manual, real-time stenography approach while some jurisdictions use electronic equipment that transcribes voice sounds into words.
Both require attentive listening skills, above average grammar and punctuation abilities and
the ability to understand the spoken word when uttered by people that have a wide range of accents and speech patterns. Most stenographers require years of experience before transcribing proceedings becomes second nature, and it is a very challenging and mentally taxing field that has a high burnout rate. Additionally, headaches, problems with posture as well as carpal tunnel syndrome are common ailments associated with those who are full-time court reporters. However, advancements in both technology and ergonomically designed machines are continually reducing the incidents in which these medical conditions occur.
There are many other opportunities to develop a career as a stenographer outside of the courtroom as well. This includes freelance work or working as an employee for legal firms, insurance companies or stenography services which provide qualified and capable services on a case by case basis. The educational requirements are the same, and most positions which are available in the private sector are filled by persons with exceptional experience and stellar listening and transcription skills. Some of the choice career positions are very competitive, and only the brightest and the best will be able to rise to the top in the private sector.
Many projections indicate that the need for stenographers will continue to grow at a faster rate than the rest of the economy, as more people retire in addition to more services being added that will require real-time transcription services. As a result, there are quite a few schools which are preparing students for the challenges and the opportunities that a career in this field provides. While the average salary for stenographers just entering the field tends to be about $40,000 per year, those with experience and advanced training can earn well over $70,000 per year, and even more if they are self-employed.
Additionally, there are many freelancers that have been able to build up their business over the course of time, and their earnings are based on contract work or case by case services. But, the vast majority of stenographers to work at the local, state or federal level as government employees. While these salaries may not be as high as in the private sector, benefits as well as job security tend to be much greater and much more generous.
A stenographer does much more than just transcribe what is being said in the room, they also possess strong research and organizational skills as well. Many times they work with judges, lawyers, court clerks or other legal professionals in locating and identifying specific transcripts that need to be reviewed or analyzed. Because a stenographer is responsible for creating the permanent record of what is said during various proceedings, accuracy is crucial. There is little margin for error, and ample training as well as on the job experience will only go so far in terms of producing accurate and attentive stenographers.
While these positions are not all that physically demanding, they are incredibly mentally taxing, and there are enormous pressures involved with meeting performance standards that should be taken into consideration. Even though it does not require a lot of training to become a stenographer, and wages are average, if not better, many people feel stenographers are underpaid due to the nature of the work they do and the responsibilities they have. Only you will be able to decide whether or not this is a career option for you to consider, but you should keep in mind that you will have to sit and transcribe real-time conversations over long periods of time which will require your undivided attention.