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An In-Depth Examination of One School’s Stenography Program

With the need for licensed and certified court reporters growing at a rapid pace, now is the time to research this highly lucrative field.  Stenographers (otherwise known as court reporters) basically take down everything that is said in public hearings, depositions, trials and other proceedings using a shorthand machine.  Besides working in the legal field there are other fields you can work in, such as Web Casting & College Lectures and Live & Recorded Broadcast Closed Captioning.  While these may take additional training they are fields expected to grow rapidly in the next decade.  Students interested in going to school to become a stenographer should always look for programs approved by the NCRA (National Court Reporters Association). 

One school that is approved by the National Court Reporters Association is the Stenotype Institute, a court stenographer school located in Florida.  They have two campuses in Florida, the first is in Jacksonville, Florida and the second campus is in Orlando, Florida.  The Stenotype Institute of Jacksonville, Inc. was established in 1940 and is one of the oldest and most respected programs in the United States. 

Students interested in enrolling are required to have their G.E.D. or high school diploma.  Prior to enrollment, all student applicants will need to meet with an admissions representative to review the program and tour the campus.  Online students may work with an admissions representative by phone if necessary.  If you live within a 50 mile radius of either campus you are not eligible for the online program.  There are two on campus programs; the daytime resident program and the nighttime resident program.

First we will review their daytime resident program.  The approximate length of this program is 36 months. Programs are based on self-paced student averages. Upon completion of this program, the student will have the necessary skills and certification for a career as an official court reporter, a freelance reporter, a steno interpreter, or a captioner. Improving your machine shorthand speed quickly is a large factor in your progress.  Speeds you will be expected to meet start at 80 wpm and finish with 225 wpm or higher. The main credit hours will be spent in Machine Shorthand Speedbuilding courses.  Other courses you will take are:

Theory One – 12 credit hours, Theory Two – 11 credit hours, Theory Three – 8 credit hours

 Basic English – 4 credit hours

Legal Terminology – 4 credit hours

Medical Terminology – 4 credit hours 

CASE (Computer Aided Transcription) – 3 credit hours

English for Court Reporters – 4 credit hours

Court Procedures I – 2 credit hours

Internship – minimum 2 credit hours

Total Credits for Certification: 125 (Daytime resident program)

The second option is their nighttime resident program.  The approximate length of this program is 48 months.  Again, this is based on self-paced student averages.  This program takes longer mainly because of the speed progression of the Machine Shorthand Speedbuilding courses; there are more but with shorter jumps between speed levels.  All the other courses are similar to the daytime program, with minor differences in the credit hours.

Total Credits for Certification: 132 (Nighttime resident program)

The Stenotype Institute’s online stenography program takes about 48 months to complete.  Courses are similar to the nighttime resident program.  The online program requires students to spend eight hours in a virtual classroom each week between 5:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., so students must have access to high-speed internet.  Unless you have an extenuating circumstance students living within 50 miles of either campus are not eligible for the online program. 

Students will be awarded their certification in Basic Machine Shorthand upon completion of the following requirements:

  • Literary – Three five-minute tests at 180 wpm with a minimum of 95% accuracy.  Tests must be transcribed on site within 70 minutes.
  • Jury Charge – Three five-minute tests at 200 wpm with a minimum of 95% accuracy.  Tests must be transcribed on site within 70 minutes.
  • Testimony – Three five-minute tests at 225 wpm with a minimum of 95% accuracy.  Tests must be transcribed on site within 70 minutes.
  • Internship – Students must complete all internship requirements, including 45 verified hours of writing.
  • GPA – The student must maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 and progress at a satisfactory rate.
  • Academic Courses – Students must complete courses successfully with at least a “D” in each class.
  • Exit Interview – Students will complete an exit interview and satisfy all financial obligations to the Stenotype Institute.

In this time of economic struggle many Americans are having a difficult time finding work. Many college graduates with a bachelor’s degree are finding out how difficult it is to find a job in today’s economy as well. According to the NCRA (National Court Reporters Association) the average starting salary is $62,000 per year for a court reporter. Job opportunities are expected to be excellent as job openings continue to outnumber jobseekers in many areas, so now is a good time to consider enrolling in court reporting school.

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