How to Become a Stenographer
A stenographer is responsible for capturing word-for-word proceeding in the legal, medical, scientific, scholastic, entertainment and business arenas. Their talent for record keeping is prized anywhere details and specifics need documentation.
The first step in becoming a stenographer can begin as early as primary school. A strong command of the English language is mandatory. Excellent spelling and grammar skills are the basis of a stenography skill set. A stenographer is responsible for being fastidious through the duration of their job, so an excellent level of concentration, as well as being able to sit still for long periods of time are also rudimentary skills a potential stenographer can hone. As a preliminary exercise, take all the typing classes available to gain speed, accuracy and dexterity on a traditional keyboard.
Research your state’s requirements for becoming licensed
Licensing varies from state to state, so make sure you understand the logistics of earning to your potential. You don’t want your licensing to become nullified if you decide to move to pursue a career opportunity that you technically might not be qualified for.
Enroll in a school that offers a stenography program, such as a community college or private trade school that features court reporting. These classes often carry a commitment of time, usually between 2 and 4 years, because you must learn to perform on a stenography machine. Stenography machines do not use a conventional keyboard; the stenographer learns a type of shorthand that is depicted through keystrokes on a 22 key machine. The stenography student’s schooling teaches them the ‘language’ of stenography as well as mandates grading on tests that to ensure students gain optimum speed, usually 225 words per minute.
During their schooling, the potential stenographer will learn a variety of vocabulary for the fields they might be reporting for. Legal and medical terminology, as well as commonly encountered business jargon will be reviewed and tested.
After completing the schooling, the new stenographer must determine their field. Fields vary from government to close captioning for television. Each position has their own requirements for speed, accuracy, pay, transcription services, etc. The stenographer in many cases is considered a freelance employee, find your niche and market your skills as such.
Once you have graduated, many states require you to maintain your stenographer’s license (called a CSR, or Certified Shorthand Reporter), through continuing education and speed testing.
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