Court reporter + overtime = six-figure salary?

My ears always perk up when I hear about a study that’s revealed career paths with surefire six-figure salaries. This morning, my ears were rewarded with (sorry, not six figures) the next-best thing: blog post material.

Yahoo! Education says that there are (at least) ten jobs sure to provide you with that coveted salary, without the need for a law or medical degree. And at No. 7, a familiar title: Court Reporter.

Now, you might be skeptical. After all, the Department of Labor found that court reporters had median annual earnings of $45,610 (May 2006).

But Yahoo! points out that they have “the chance to make much, much more money than that.” How?

“Document backlogs in certain cities have pushed overtime pay for court reporters to record levels. The court reporter who adds freelance transcribing for private depositions and business meetings to a base income can crack $100,000 per year.”

If you’re still on the fence, maybe this will push you over: employment of court reporters is projected to grow 25 percent between 2006 and 2016.

Do you know any court reporters who supplement their income this way? Is it realistic for future court reporters to expect to cobble together a six-figure salary?

JACKIE SAUTER, Web Editor

64 thoughts on “Court reporter + overtime = six-figure salary?

  1. Yadi – what school are you attending? I am curious because I am currently in the process of finding a court reporting school.

    Thanks!

  2. The projected growth is accurate, and yes it IS possible to make the money but you have to work VERY hard to get it. Not to mention go to school for years (2 -3 if you work hard full time, 4-6 if you are part time). I am a student at Brown College of Court Reporting, and I have Court Reporter friends who have done it for 20+ years. The money is real, and the career is exciting. You just CANT do it with only an interest for the money. You have to have great interest in law and what goes on the court room. You also must have lots of interest in Language Arts/English, reading, and working with computers and staying up to date with other technologies. Also, if you have experience with learning foreign languages then you will greatly profit from that because learning the steno theory is like learning an entirely different language. If this sounds like something you could do then try it out! I am loving it!

  3. I’ve been a court reporter for almost ten years in Oklahoma. I spent the first seven years in the district court as an offical reporter and the last three years freelancing. As an official reporter, I averaged about $55,000 a year. As a freelancer, average has been between $70,000-$80,000. I LOVE my job!

  4. Yes, everyone, believe it or not, it is a six-figure income depending on where you work and other variants. I am a working reporter for two years now and I have made well over $100,000 already this year (by October 2012). You just have to be willing to work many hours and have lots of physical stamina and concentration and LOVE your job or you will NOT last doing it.

  5. what about CART Providers? What is the starting salary for them? I am a very recent graduate of Court Reporting and I am now finding out that you have to purchase your own writer for every place that you go to work for. Except for the courthouse, they provide you with everything in my area. BUT, you can’t get a job in the courthouse until you have your RPR. So, I am currently looking into CART. But as a CART provider, you have to purchase your own writer and software, which can be about $9,000.00. This is a very expensive career to start out in, the loan money, the writer, and maybe the software, and to become a notary that you have to be. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated.

  6. I have been reporting for 21+ years. I love my job and have never looked back. I attended Cerritos College, Ca, a community college. I am a freelance reporter doing depositions earning WELL into the six figures. It is a lot of work but worth every dollar. To Christina, the “Cr at Home,” I think would be considered the captioning rpr.

    First, get your finger wet by doing depos at lawyers’ offices. It did take me many years part time to attain my CSR license ,passing the test the first time, which is what you need in California. You do need to purchase your all your own equipment, but as an independent contractor, you get to write it off on your taxes. You don’t put out all the money at once; there is financing.

    I don’t know of any court that is supplying equipment for you. In fact, because of the aggressive ER vendors, many courts are switching to ER, which will be more expensive in the long run. They just don’t realize it yet, but they will. Every attorney wants to have a live person in any important proceeding. If the court chooses otherwise, much more money will be spent with appeals because no accurate record can ever be produced by a tape recorder.

    Stick with your chosen profession of becoming the best court reporter you can be, and you will be glad you did.

  7. I did this job for years. Those that make 6 figures are the VERY gifted reporters. This is a difficult job. Some attorneys will test you to see how fast you can go for the fun of it (the immature — those right out of law school). Some will think you are a seasoned reporter — meaning you can take notes over 260 words per minute(and that is tough!) — without thinking twice — there are attorneys that don’t give two hoots about the record when they are making it, but want a perfect transcript in the end, meaning they will talk over others and mutter with their back to you and expect you to understand all they have said and to capture it — they can rattle you and rattle you until you don’t know who you are — but if you are a fighter, don’t mind all the yelling — well, it is a heck of a difficult job.

    You cannot affford to have an ego, b/c it is always impossible to keep up with people at some point. If you are a woman and at all attractive, be prepared to be more of a focal point than you would like to be, b/c you must always be focused on the proceedings, and not be rattled by being finding yourself to be a focal point.

    This is a difficult job. more than people dare appreciate. In fact, I doubt judges know how hard their reporters work. It is, indeed, like knowing a 2nd language, and it must come that fast to you — if not faster.

    I left this job after a number of years, and i would never, ever return to it. Attorneys must work hard, too, but they have large egos, and their mind is usually always on the dollar sign. You must be prepared emotionally for things many young women are not prepared for, I believe.

    In all sincerity, I would never, ever recommend this job to anyone, unless I knew they were a tough cookie — or a very cool customer. That is the emotional makeup that you must have, plus lightening fast fingers.

    Sorry to dampen anyone’s ambitions, but I will always believe a 4-yr. degree and then Master’s is the best route to go.

  8. I am currently doing the Court Reporting At Home and it is a VERY good school, I highly recommend it. They provide complete support to you at home and they are very professional. I have been very happy with them. I hope to be done with school in a year and I started in April (four months ago)!

  9. Can you tell me more regarding the court reporting at home school? Is there a website to view? I would like to more about that program before I pay a lot of money to another college that may be much more expensive.

  10. I’ve been a court reporter for 25 years, some of it in overseas courts, a lot of it taking freelance depos in the States. I usually make about $100,000. There are some expenses that reduce that, but it’s been a good job.

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