Considering a Career as a Court Reporter?
The market is ripe for a new generation of court reporters and the prospects for one’s income, career advancement, and reliable employment in an engaging field provide a strong incentive to be part of it. In the following, we’ll review some of the reasons why joining Canada’s community of court reporters – and On The Record Court Reporting (“OTR”) – might be great career choice for you.
Court reporters are in high demand.
The population of court reporters is aging, and with the average age within the industry being above 50, retirement is on the horizon for many. Service Canada has projected a growth rate in the industry of approximately 14% between 2010 and 2020 in Quebec, which is likely representative of nationwide trends. This is almost double the rate expected across all occupations (see here).
As reported by both the Globe and Mail and the Financial Post, employers also report a shortage of new court reporters. Despite court reporters consistently appearing in the top ten in Forbes “Best Jobs That Don’t Require A Four-Year Degree” list, many employers are struggling to fill available positions. One such employer, Gloria Scheerer, president of Clearly Spoken Inc, also noted that Canada’s increasingly litigious society is likely to preserve a need for court reporters in the future.
As any economist will tell you, this increasing shortage of court reporters alongside similarly increasing demand means that their incomes and ‘bargaining power’ are also likely to rise.
Reliable and substantial income.
Court reporters can earn a substantial income, have opportunities for real career advancement, and are largely insulated from the ebbs and flows of the economy. According to the Globe and Mail, one industry executive noted that one can earn $40,000 right out of high school, and, eventually, “well over” $100,000 per year (see here). The job also doesn’t demand a four-year degree, so young court reporters can avoid the high student debt many of their generation contend with today.
The court reporting industry is also widely regarded as “recession proof”. The prospects for employment are not particularly sensitive to economic turbulence, so court reporters enjoy a high degree of job security. Indeed, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, court reporters faired notably well.
The suggestion is sometimes made that new technology will render court reporters obsolete. This has been talked about since the 1980’s when some expected tape recorders to replace the trusty stenographer. Needless to say, that didn’t pan out. Even as the tools have changed, and much of court reporters’ work has moved out of the courtroom and into new digital technologies, the industry is by no means under threat. We’ve already noted the high demand for court reporters. As the Financial Post’s Mathew O’Mara writes, “while courts still hire staff to write transcripts, more and more jobs are being found outside of the courtroom” (see here).
Engaging, dynamic and important work.
The job of a court reporter is much more than sitting in the corner of a courtroom typing at lightning speed – though accreditation does require very competent typists. More and more, the job consists of applying and maintaining digital equipment, proofing, and providing annotations and supplementary information.
Moreover, court reporters generally have to familiarize themselves with whatever legal matter they’re working with, and that can span most every area of the law. The job also provides travel opportunities. Some court reporters travel globally, as foreign cases involving Canadian parties commonly require Canadian court reporters. OTR often provides on-site services all over Southern Ontario.
Most importantly, court reporters makes a real difference to real people. For example, having a court reporter’s services means that undertakings given at examinations for discovery will be on the record, and that any examinations will be available to undermine the opposing party’s credibility. Judges, and thus those for whom they make very important decisions, depend on these transcripts (as discussed in this blog).
Finally, court reporters are held to a high standard of integrity. As we noted in a previous blog, according to the Court Reporters Association of Ontario, court reporter’s are “duty bound to not only protect the integrity of the record, but to always remain impartial and maintain an arms-length, independent relationship from influence that may be put upon them.”
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Court reporters are in high demand, enjoy a secure career with great opportunities for advancement and income growth, and take part in a dynamic, rewarding industry. If any of the above speaks to you and your ambition, we would encourage you to consider a career in court reporting, and perhaps a position with OTR.