Is Stenography a Good Career? Prospects & Earnings

In a world where AI threatens to make many jobs obsolete, you might wonder if your passion for rapid typing and shorthand could actually pay the bills. Stenography might seem like a relic of the past, but don’t keyboard yourself into a corner just yet.

Through this post, you’re going to get the lowdown on turning those steno skills into a sustainable career.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Stenography remains in demand in the legal and broadcasting sectors, promising growth despite advancing AI technologies.
  • Key success factors include completing an NCRA-approved program, obtaining RPR certification, and honing skills like typing speed and accuracy.
  • A career in stenography can offer competitive salaries, requires continual skill development, and technology adaptability.

What is Stenography, and Why Does it Matter Today?

Let’s kick things off by zeroing in on what stenography is all about. At its core, stenography is the art and practice of transcribing spoken words into written form at lightning speeds, using a stenotype machine or shorthand. This craft has been an integral cog in the wheel of judicial systems for ages, capturing every word in courtrooms with unwavering precision.

But it’s not all suits and gavels – stenographers also play a key role in the broadcasting world, providing real-time closed captions that ensure television is accessible to everyone, including the deaf and hard of hearing community. They’re also the unsung heroes at live events, capturing speeches and providing CART (Communication Access Real-time Translation) services, bridging the gap for those relying on written communication. Because let’s be honest, having equal access to information is a huge deal, and these folks ensure no one misses out on the conversation.

Is Stenography Still In Demand?

You might be wondering if stenography is still a thing, given today’s tech-savvy world. The answer is a resounding “Yes!”

The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) suggests there’s an ongoing demand for stenographers, especially with a looming shortage as the demand outstrips supply. Courtrooms persist as stenography strongholds, with official court reporting positions often featuring competitive salaries and benefits. Plus, the need for closed captioning for live tv and online video content is on the rise, thanks to regulations mandating accessibility.

Complementing traditional niches, stenography expertise is also being tapped for new technologies, including voice recognition software editing. Those nifty transcription tools may seem magical, but they often need a human touch to reach perfection.

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Stenographer?

If you’re flirting with the idea of a stenography career, you’ve got to have a particular set of skills. It’s not about being the next Liam Neeson, but you do need to be a quick-fingered wordsmith.

First off, education-wise, you’ll likely need a degree or certificate in court reporting from an NCRA-approved program. Formal education will arm you with the nuts and bolts of legal and medical terminology, as well as transcription practices.

Certification is your next stop; for example, becoming a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) gives you an edge in the job market. Here’s where you’ll showcase your transcription muscle – punching out a whopping 225 words per minute isn’t for the faint of heart, but it is for a career-minded stenographer.

But speed isn’t everything. You’ve got to have laser-like accuracy – we’re talking near-perfect transcription – and the discretion to handle sensitive information with care. Plus, an exceptional stenographer has stellar concentration abilities and a knack for managing stress – because when the courtroom drama unfolds or live news hits the fan, you’ll be the calm in the steno storm.

Adding a dash of advice most overlook, but let’s not forget adaptability. In a field that’s merging more and more with technology, being open to learning and mastering new software could set you apart from the crowd.

So there you have it – the skinny on stenography. It’s not just about quick keys; it’s about unlocking a world of information for all to see, and maybe, just maybe, it could be the career you’ve been searching for. Keep on reading to see how you could turn stenography into your own success story.

How Much Can You Earn as a Stenographer?

When you’re considering a career in stenography, you’ll find that the potential earnings can vary quite a bit. Let’s dive into what you might expect. For entry-level stenographers, starting salaries are typically modest. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, court reporters and simultaneous captioners had a median annual wage of around $61,660 as of May 2020. Newcomers can expect to earn less than this median as they build experience.

As for seasoned professionals, those with years under their belt and a knack for the job often command higher rates. In the field of stenography, experience can translate into a significant bump in pay. Depending on the individual’s speed, accuracy, and the complexity of the work, a veteran stenographer might enjoy a salary well above the median.

But here’s the thing—several factors can nudge your income higher or lower:

  • Location, location, location: Just like in real estate, where you work plays a huge role in determining your salary. Urban centers with a higher cost of living tend to offer better pay.
  • Specialization makes a difference: Specializing in a lucrative niche, like broadcast captioning or CART services for the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities, might mean having the upper hand financially.
  • Type of employment matters: Whether you’re working for the government, in the legal system, for a broadcasting company, or flying solo as a freelance stenographer could significantly influence your bottom line.

How Do You Kickstart Your Career as a Stenographer?

If you’re itching to get your stenography career off the ground, here’s a blueprint to get you moving:

  1. Education is Key

    • Enroll in a vocational school or community college program that offers court reporting or captioning training.
    • Look for programs that are certified by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA).
  2. Get Certified

    • Aim to obtain certification like the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) from NCRA or other recognized credentials. They can be a magnet for employers.
  3. Practice Makes Perfect

    • Hone your skills by practicing your typing speed and accuracy. The golden standard is usually 225 words per minute for voice writing stenographers.
  4. Gain Experience

    • Consider internships or entry-level positions to get your foot in the door and build real-world experience.
  5. Network

    • Join professional organizations, attend conferences, and connect with seasoned pros. It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know.
  6. Stay Tech-Savvy

    • Embrace the latest software and technologies in the field. They’ll make you more efficient and marketable.
  7. Resume and Demo

    • Craft a polished resume and record a stenography demonstration to show potential employers your skills.

Here’s a juicy tidbit most folks won’t tell you: for those of you ready to hit the ground running, offer your stenography services for local community events or small court cases pro bono initially. This unique approach can give you real-world experience, gets your foot in the door, and is a goldmine for networking.

What’s the Long-term Outlook for a Stenography Career?

You’re probably wondering—does stenography have a future in the age of technology and AI? The short answer is yes, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. While artificial intelligence and voice recognition software are making strides, they’re not quite perfect, especially in complex, fast-paced, and specialized settings like courtrooms or live broadcasts—this is where the human touch still reigns supreme.

Expect technology to be a double-edged sword; while some jobs may be put at risk, others may evolve, requiring stenographers to adapt and integrate new tech into their work. Embracing change and staying on top of tech trends will be crucial.

The traditional sectors employing stenographers, like the legal system and broadcasting, are expected to remain strongholds for the profession. However, growth can be slow; for instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a modest 3% growth from 2020 to 2030.

In a nutshell, the career of a stenographer requires resilience and adaptability. The profession is here to stay, but it may look different tomorrow than it does today. By future-proofing your skills and staying versatile, you can maintain an edge in the evolving landscape of stenography. Your shorthand might be speedy, but remember, a career is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep learning, keep adapting, and you’ll find that stenography can still be a rewarding and secure career path.

  • Alex Mitch

    Hi, I'm the founder of! Having been in finance and tech for 10+ years, I was surprised at how hard it can be to find answers to common questions in finance, tech and business in general. Because of this, I decided to create this website to help others!