Let’s Talk Money

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Money is important to a lot of people. We don’t need to go into all the reasons why, but money provides people with a comfortable (first class flights, massages, big home) lifestyle and a better life for their kids (first car, college fund, better inheritance).

So let’s talk about this very big topic amount court reporting students. It is no surprise that people get into court reporting primarily for the money. Whether or not that should be the ultimate goal (vs fulfillment) is discussed in another post.

But in this post, we will talk about this important topic to light a fire and to set the record straight.

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Every day that you miss school is a day that you are losing money. Everybody has X amount of hours and X amount of school days they need to graduate. This varies from person to person, but the people that spread out their practices (practice once a week) will indirectly cause the amount of practice hours to graduation go up significantly. Being consistent and intense is very important.

The closer your practice days are together, the more fluent you will become with your board, and the faster you will graduate. You are not just losing out on money that you have to pay for in tuition by getting stuck in school for longer than necessary by not practicing consistently and intensely, but you are losing thousands of dollars in income that could have been.

In February of 2015, which is in two months, I would have just graduated school if I took the average time a student takes, which is 3.5 years. I would have lost out on all the valuable experience in the interim, and over $100,000. I have since paid off my car, my student loans, my equipment, both freelance and captioning softwares, and outfitted my entire apartment. I have experience in court, in the freelance realm, and now in captioning. Think about that. Think of all the stress I have skipped by refusing to go to parties and by refusing to give up a single practice.

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Now, let’s talk about realistic expectations about what you will get when you get out. The first two years will be fraught with major bills – software, professional machine, wardrobe, equipment, student loans, the list goes on. I wrote off 13K in the first year and 7K in the second year. Next year, I’ll only write off 2K. So the first two years will be expensive. The checks will take time to roll in.

The first year will also be slow since you are building your reputation and also inventing all your editing macros, which you will not have done in school. This will save you collectively months over the course of your lifetime, these inventions, if you don’t put them off.

First year estimates are around 30K to 70K full-time, depending on the city that you live in. Obviously LA and Honolulu will pay more than other places because of the cost of living. Texas is generally a good market for court reporters as well.

If you can become realtime within the first two years, you can easily bump up your salary to 100K in a busy city. However, if you drag out the realtime process, you can expect about 70K for the second year.

These are realistic expectations. Hours are long, which is why I enjoy captioning a lot more, but the money is great. Paychecks range from 500 to 1K for a single non-realtime depo. There were many jobs where I made over 1K a day as a realtime writer. People can easily make 5K a week if they are the best of the best (in realtime) and live in the right cities. You can expect at least 100K if you provide good realtime, are professional in dress, manner, and stay current with software and equipment. A good scopist also will put you over the top.
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This is the real picture. Do not become discouraged. Even though money is your primary problem in school and all you can wish for, for realtime freelancers, money is the least of their worries.

2 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Money

  1. What kind of macros would be important for freelance that you have come across, even though I know you’re in captioning?

    • There are too many QWERTY macros to list. I am still compiling the list of all the ones I used. They will come up as you’re editing. For instance, inserting All right. or Okay. with one QWERTY macro. You should make a shortcut for anything you type into the transcript again and again.

      The list of macros that you need from the steno board is a lot shorter. Mainly, cap last, cap last 2-5, define last, format height, and the includes like END/END will put your conclusion parenthetical. Not really macros, but includes are just important in freelance – not so for captioning.

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