How Much Does Court Reporting School Cost?
Just yesterday, I got a call from a prospective court reporting student wanting to “pick my brain” about the job prospects in court reporting. This particular lady was looking to retire from her current job and wanted to attend court reporting school. She was attracted to the idea that freelance court reporting provides one a lot of flexibility as well as a good income. She was doing market research, which I think is a good thing. It’s typically a good idea to do as much research as humanly possible before embarking on a journey requiring lots of time and money and heart and soul.
As the Book of Luke wisely points out:
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost?
You’ve got to “count the cost” of going through court reporting school. And I don’t necessarily mean just the financial cost. How much is it going to cost to build that tower? Here is a partial list of other “costs” you should be aware of:
A Partial List Of Court Reporting School Costs
- The Financial Cost
The dollars and cents. Tuition is not the only thing to consider. Think about some of these other add-ons: child care, books, paper, steno machine purchase/rental, supplemental courseware, publication subscriptions, CEU credits, association membership dues, gas for the car, Tylenol.
- The Opportunity Cost
What is the possible loss of other opportunities that may arise due to a commitment to court reporting? Will you have to cut down on things you enjoy in order to focus on school? (Hint: Yes, you will.) What if that great job offer finally comes through which now conflicts with school? What if that great vacation conflicts with your class schedule? What are you going to do?
- The Emotional Cost
There is a hidden emotional surcharge that I felt during school. Perhaps it’s the stress of attempting to master the steno machine. Perhaps it’s the constant “failure” of not passing a speed in a timely fashion. I’m the guy who spent a long, long time in one particular speed. There’s nothing inherently difficult about that particular speed – 170s – but that was a time of my life where I stopped focusing on school, got distracted, and stopped counting the cost. The “cost” of that sort of distraction does indeed come with an emotional price tag. When you’ve lost momentum, it’s frustrating to you as well as to your family and friends. I write from experience!
Is Court Reporting A Good Stepping-Stone Career?
No, it's not. When I was in court reporting school (circa 1993 – 1999), there was a colleague of mine who intended to become a court reporter in order that she could afford to pay her way through medical school. Dumb idea. In her mind the flexibility and high pay of a freelance reporter would be a perfect fit for a doctor-to-be. Wrong! She quit school in frustration but not until accruing some student loan debt. On this side of things – being a licensed CSR since 1999 – I can surely see the folly in that plan. Court reporting school is not something to do on the side while you work on the “real deal” elsewhere. It’s way too hard and demanding of an endeavor for that. By that logic, as an example, should a person become a doctor because it will pave their way for becoming an astronaut? It’s silly and an extremely roundabout path to a goal. If you want to become a doctor, go the direct route. Go to medical school or watch lots of episodes of House or whatever. Don’t even think about becoming a court reporter as a stepping stone. Becoming a court reporter is not for the faint-of-heart, nor the semi-committed.
I hope this post does not seem overly gloom-and-doom about how hard it is. Yes, it is challenging. Yes, it takes time. But I guess what I’m saying is that there is a cost to doing this apart from the financial cost. A wise person needs to consider that before jumping in.
Thoughts anyone? I’d like to hear from current court reporting students and/or prospectives.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009