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Court reporters in high demand

Courts across the nation are facing a shortage of court reporters, with the average age of people in the profession rising and fewer young people taking it on as a career.

Courts across the nation are facing a shortage of court reporters, with the average age of people in the profession rising and fewer young people taking it on as a career.

Within the next five years, nearly 5,000 court reporters are expected to retire nationwide. Officials hope people will take note of the shortage and take advantage of the growing number of employment opportunities.

For nearly 20 years, Christine Phipps has served as a court reporter in Palm Beach County, responsible for making an accurate record of any trial or preceding. It is a profession that is still in high demand despite many believing it's "outdated."

"While we have Siri these days and all of these things coming to light with ways of doing transcription, that still does not work nearly half as fast as the human brain," said Phipps.

According to a 2013 study conducted by the National Court Reporters Association based in Vienna, Virginia, the demand for court reporters will soon exceed the supply nationwide, despite a transition to digital recording in some courtrooms.

"If you look back at our industry five years ago, you did not see captioning of all proceedings," said Phipps. "Now not only do we have the jobs available in court systems and depositions and hearings and things going on all across the country, we have meetings like with Microsoft and close captioning opportunities."

The struggle to recruit court reporters, who must be able to type at least 240 words a minute and sit for long periods without a break is a growing concern. That is why the National Court Reporters Association started the take note campaign and has designated this week as National Court Reporting and Captioning week to make students aware of the job possibilities and how the job has changed.

"Court reporters across the country have united and are all taking a personal interest," said Phipps. "We have court reporters showing up at high schools."

It's a job that makes up to six figures and does not require a four-year college degree. This week court reporters and captioners hope to spread awareness about the opportunities within their profession.

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