What is a Stenographer?
A stenographer is a professional who uses different types of shorthand to write out verbal communications from a recording. A stenographer may also use a stenotype machine to transcribe notes into business documents. Stenographers are most commonly used in legal settings, such as the courtroom, where the testimony, arguments, and rulings are transcribed. Stenographers are not just limited to the courtroom however, and can also be utilized in administrative settings or during high profile business meetings.
During high school, students interested in the stenographer career often take courses in typing, business procedures, and shorthand. A high school diploma is required, and while there are some jobs available right out of school, most students choose to enroll in a 2-year or 4-year education program to obtain better job opportunities and higher salaries. Look for programs that have been approved by the National Court Reporter’s Association.
Those who are looking for an advanced career, such as that of a court reporter or real time captioner, will need to complete at least 2 years in court and conference reporting. Obtaining a 4-year degree that includes courses in English and computer training is preferred, especially for those who want to work for the federal government. In these cases, stenographers will also need to become certified or licensed, and these testing procedures vary across states.
Since a stenographer creates precise legal recordings, those in this field must be detail-orientated, excellent listeners, and highly organized. Stenographers need to work at a fast pace, which is where speed, accuracy, and typing skills come into play. Stenographers must also have a firm grasp on their language and know how to edit for punctuation and grammar. Concentration is also crucial, as stenographers depend on their listening skills and focus for hours at a time.
Job and Career Outlook
Salaries and opportunities for stenographers vary widely, as education, experience, geographic location, and level of responsibility all influence salaries. The average salary for a stenographer is $32,174 a year. Stenographers also receive paid vacation, health insurance, and other benefits. Although stenographers have proven valuable over the years, the demand for this profession is dropping and is expected to continue to decline, as personal computers and audio recording equipment are taking over the place of stenographers.