The “war for talent” rages on as more people enter the workforce, and as a result it has become increasingly important to pick an education wisely. And while record numbers of young people are choosing to invest in four-year Bachelor’s degrees, some of the country’s most in-demand jobs don’t actually require a college education.
Case in point: technical careers such as court reporters.
The career doesn’t require a college degree, at least not a four-year one. Although students can expect to spend as many as 15 hours a week refining their typing and listening skills, most court reporters attend two-year trade schools or certificate programs. Today, this trade is growing in demand with each passing year (and court case).
But why are there so many open court reporter positions right now? It’s simple supply and demand.
Currently, litigation is increasing rapidly across the nation, but the number of professionals that can document court proceedings is shrinking rapidly. Several states are already grappling with a court reporter shortage.
States like Texas, where Erminia Uviedo, a court reporter of several years, notes that the shortage is much more widespread than most people realize.
“They projected about 5,500 job openings within the next five years, and we’re already feeling that shortage,” Uviedo said.
This can lead to issues on a national scale when it comes to court cases and legal documentation, as court reporters use stenography machines to generate a written record of court proceedings. This can be anything from high-profile cases to simple divorce hearings.
“Without a record, we have nothing to establish what went on in that courtroom,” Bexar County District Judge Kevin O’Connell said. “It’s actually as if it never happened at all.”
The position takes two years of training and a unique method of typing in order to be filled, and the average court reporter writes between 200 and 280 words per minute.
“You’re literally learning a language with your hands. It’s phonetic,” veteran court reporter Tonya Thompson said. “I can write a phrase with one stroke, like a chord on a piano.”
For the stenographers who already work in the industry, this shortage could not have occurred at a worse time, especially with the increase in the number of cases. It does, however, make the job a very stable option for anyone interested in entering a stable field.