Court stenographer job info

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Sharon Butler is a stenographer working for a business which provides court reporting services to courts, the legal profession and, in fact, any organisation that requires a verbatim (word for word) transcript.

What does your job involve?

I sit in courts or meetings, reporting everything that is being said word for word. I then produce a transcript of the proceedings in an allotted time.

Do you have a typical day?

Not really. Some days I work from home completing transcripts. On other days, I am out on jobs. I work in lots of different places, including the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the Competition Commission, at NHS complaints tribunals and at meetings in various law firms.

What equipment do you use?

I use a Stentura 8000 – it's a specialist shorthand typing machine that has keys on it like a keyboard, but with only 25 keys. Each key represents a letter of the alphabet and different combinations equal different letters, for example, pressing T, P and H together is an N. I also use a digital recording device as a back-up to proofread my transcripts against.

How fast can you type?

I can type up to 200 words per minute, which would be impossible on an ordinary typewriter. Words are broken down into syllables, so I type syllables rather than each individual letter of the word.

What was your route into this job?

A friend worked for a company that provided stenographers to the Crown Courts and mentioned to me that they were recruiting. I took the opportunity to apply and was offered a job.

What training have you received?

I received 18 months of training from one of the top shorthand writers in the country.

What hours do you work?

My day normally starts at 7.30am because I have to arrive at my location and set up before any hearings start. I can finish at any time, depending on the deadline for the transcript. Sometimes I have to stay up all night to finish a transcript on time!

What are the advantages of your job?

I enjoy the flexibility. To a certain extent, I can choose the hours I work. I also enjoy the variety – each day is different, and love the opportunity to meet new people.

Are there any downsides?

I am not in an office environment, so there isn't the social interaction that I would get if I were working with a team of people.

What skills does a court reporter need?

It's important to have good people skills, as you meet new people all the time. You must also be disciplined in order to meet deadlines. Court reporters have to be flexible, as the job can change from one day to the next.

What are your long-term career goals?

I would like to become the best stenographer in the country and to own my own verbatim reporting company.

Sharon's route to her job as a court stenographer

  • GCSEs
  • GNVQ in Art and Design
  • Shorthand training course

Sharon's court stenographer tips

  • Be determined b ecause it takes a long time to train.
  • It's important to motivate yourself and do the best job you can.

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Salary of a court stenographer

  • The starting salary for a court reporter who works as a logger (recording onto tape) is around £12,000 a year.
  • Experienced stenographers can earn up to £60,000.
  • Many work freelance and are paid a daily rate of between £120 and £300.
  • They also get paid for producing a transcript of the proceedings.

How to become a court stenographer

  • Applicants need GSCEs/S grades (A-C/1-3). They must have an excellent standard of grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  • Courses in court reporting are available in colleges throughout the UK, as well as by distance learning.
  • The British Institute of Verbatim Reporters (BIVR) offers an examination in real-time reporting.
  • Scottish law firms usually train their own court reporters.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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