As you approach the final tests of your speed building journey, you may be wondering to yourself: I’m just about done with school, but am I really ready to go to work and produce the official record? Let’s explore how to answer this simple question while providing you with the tools and confidence you will need to look back on this question a few years into your career and proudly say, yes, I was ready then and I will strive every day to continue to improve my skills.

How do I evaluate my progress?

It’s not just enough to have met the academic requirements to call yourself a success and be ready to work as a reporter. There is so much more to this profession than simply completing the academics. Some tough questions you need to ask yourself are: Do I understand the basics to go out and take a deposition and then produce an official transcript?  For example:

  • Do I have the professional version of my CAT software?
  • Do I know enough of the fundamentals of my CAT software to be able to complete my transcripts on time?
  • Do I know how to read a Notice of Deposition?
  • Do I have a system in place to keep all the details of each job organized, e.g., do I have a Depobook?
  • Do I have business cards, whether my own or agency provided?
  • Do I have backup audio systems in place?
  • Has my equipment recently been serviced to avoid technical issues?
  • Is my computer uncluttered and updated?
  • Is my dictionary updated?
  • Have I completed my notary requirements if my state requires such?
  • Is my office space organized and ready for me to start producing transcripts?
  • Do I have all of my cables neatly organized and packed?
  • Do I own a sufficient professional wardrobe to get me started?
  • Do I have a proofreader ready to work with me who knows my style of editing, e.g., have I completed a reporter preference worksheet?

That’s quite a list!

As you can see, being ready to go to work is more than simply having 225 wpm in your arsenal. That’s the skill – but are you the whole package? As you begin to check off items in the list above, you begin to complete, and make whole, the package that is your reporting career.

Does preparedness ever end?

Absolutely not! There will always be new technology to investigate, be it an external microphone to add to your setup to enhance your audio sync, or maybe an exhibit label maker. Perhaps you need a way to archive your jobs as you complete them – a simple external hard drive could be your solution.

Do not neglect to update your CAT software tech support agreement – remember that you will need tech support at the most inopportune time! Eventually, you will need to update your equipment, so have a plan in place before it crashes and leaves you high and dry.

How do I afford all this?

Entering the profession of court reporting is not an inexpensive endeavor, but there are a few things you can do to manage costs. Shop low- or zero-interest credit cards for your purchases and commit to paying them off on time. Also, if your family/friends typically send you a gift for your birthday, or some other holiday, request they send you a MasterCard/Visa gift card so you can make the professional investments to get started – or provide them your wish list of needed equipment, so they know what to buy; direct links from websites is the best approach so you get the specific item(s) you need. (This is also a great way to get your professional wardrobe started!) Investing in your equipment is an investment in yourself.

Ready, Set, Go!! 

With this checklist in hand, your equipment all in place, your wardrobe started, it’s time to get out there and begin building your book of business. If you look the part, and you act the part, you will gain the confidence you need to succeed. Clients want to be reassured that they have a competent court reporter – never let them see you sweat! Before you know it, you will be on your way to an incredibly successful future.