AT the age of 24, Cheryl Haab, a single mother of one was struggling to make ends meet as a bartender and waitress. It wasn’t until her son, Benicio, was old enough to go to kindergarten that she decided to pursue a career in court reporting.
Haab chose to attend Bryan University, a training program endorsed by the National Court Reporting Association (NRCA), in Los Angeles
“Once my son turned 5 and he was going into kindergarten I started looking into different career options. This one really stood out to me because not only was the school program flexible, I was able to do it all online” Haab said.
While her first few years were difficult– working a full-time job, going to school full-time and raising her son — she graduated three and half years later.
Currently Haab, a Filipino American, is the vice president of the Deposition Reporter Association (DRA), which is an organization that supports freelance stenographic reporters.
The main task of a court reporter is to transcribe spoken word into a written form using a stenotype machine. Court reporting has a wide range of potential career opportunities, such as working in the courtroom, taking depositions at an attorney’s office, and captioning for news stations or sports arenas.
“This is the greatest job market for the next three years I have ever seen in my 25 years of working in court reporting. There are just so many jobs out there,” said John Kolacinski, president and chief academic officer of Bryan University’s Los Angeles campus.
According to a Ducker Worldwide study on court reporting, 5,500 new court reporter positions will be available in the United States by 2018.
As a way to inform high school seniors and their parents about court reporting the NCRA has created a campaign called crTakeNote. crTakeNote has been an ongoing campaign since September 2014.
Immediately after graduating, students will most likely have a job with an average starting salary of $45,000. Court reporters, according to crTakeNote, are given the opportunity to create their own work schedule. Those who decide to do captioning could assist someone with hearing loss or may work in high-profile courtroom trials.
“Lower student loan debt, high demand for court reporters, starting salaries in the mid-$40,000s and many career paths to choose from make court reporting an excellent alternative to traditional college degrees,” a press release from the NCRA stated.
Olivia Wujick a fourth-year student at Tri-Community Adult Education in Covina, Calif. said, “I have no school loans at this point. It may take a little bit longer, but once I am done I will walk away not owing a penny to anybody.”
Wuijck is currently a stay-at-home mother and goes to school twice a week.
NCRA endorses 45 certified institutions and 12 participating programs nationwide. The cost of these programs can vary depending on the institution. Private institutions such as Bryan University can cost up to $13,000 a year before grants, according to Haab. Public school programs, such as Tri-Community Adult Education, have more comparable prices to that of a local community college.
“I am a parent of a young teenager and I think about three, four, five years from now when he has to go to college will I have the funds to send him to a traditional four-year university. Hopefully, but if I don’t, vocational schools [are] a great alternative to families who may not be available to foot those large university bills” said Haab.
(LA Weekend June 27 – 30, 2015 Sec A pg.9)