(1) Certification of a school means NOTHING. The schools that are NCRA certified are not better quality than those with no certification. Some things you need to pay for quality (like a steno machine), but school tuition is NOT an indicator of quality.
(2) You do not need a diploma to become a successful reporter. Reporter certification means something, but a diploma from a school means nothing in the real world. Skill is the most important factor, even above reporter certification.
(3) There are short theories and long theories. A theory is the steno language. I write KAT (three letters, all at the same time), and my software translates it cat. Everything is phonetic. Some theories require more strokes than others because they do not encourage briefing (a short form). If I hear “at the,” I will write it in one stroke. Longer theories will write it in two. I recommend learning as short as possible a theory from the onset. It will save you so much frustration in the end, if you try to add all the briefs in speed or as a working reporter. Shorter is superior. It will save you millions of strokes over the course of your career. Hobbyists, a longer theory is better, easier for you to remember. You will not be logging in the hours of a student and the strokes of a reporter, so a longer theory will make more sense for you.
(4) Practicing every day is the most important part. If you skip days, you indirectly lengthen the amount of time in school, costing hundreds a day in potential income and tuition costs. Every party that you skip, every day that you decide not to wear makeup and practice longer, every favor you ask your spouse or family for, you are putting the odds more in your favor. There is no such thing as too much practice or too much passion.
(5) Only 10% graduate court reporting school, and only 10% of those ever make great money (90K+). If you plan to just slide by, the career will be nothing but frustration (very little reward, monetary or otherwise) and you have little chance of even realizing the career. You have to be passionate about it, or it won’t pay off in the long-run.
(6) There are three main facets of court reporting. Captioning, freelance, and court officials. CART (for the hearing impaired in meetings, seminars, classes) falls under captioning. In another post, I discuss the pros and cons of each. IF you want to be a captioner, certification and high speed is not the most important thing. If you want to be a freelancer or an official, speed and certification is crucial, even at the expense of accuracy.
(7) The closer you live to your school, the better your odds. Odds are beaten every day, and knowledge helps that end.
(8) The less responsibility you have (no kids, no job), the better your odds, but passion can overcome setback. Momentum at the beginning can increase your passion and resolve, so make sure you review your theory BEFORE ever setting foot in a school.
(9) A mentor is free, but priceless.
(10) The harder you are on yourself, the easier the world will be on you. If you’re hard on yourself and are honest with yourself, you are truly loving yourself.