Imagine making $500,000 a year without having to earn a college degree. If you are a court reporter — and a little bit lucky — it’s possible.
A shortage of court reporters has grown to at least 5,000 unfilled positions nationwide, according to the Association for Court Reporters and Captioners. The lack of court reporters means workers who have these skills can make big money.
CNBC reports that in large markets where court reporters are in high demand, workers can make up to half a million dollars.
In recent years, states that were known to have shortages of court reporters have included California, Florida, Iowa, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.
To be sure, earning $500,000 as a court reporter is not easy. You likely will have to live in the right place, and you’ll probably have to put in long hours.
But Irene Nakamura, the founder of IDepo Reporters — a California-based court reporting firm — tells CNBC that earnings are good for most court reporters wherever they work. Some court reporters who work half-days earn near six figures annually, she says.
While earning $500,000 is certainly the exception rather than the rule, Nakamura says wages rise significantly for those with at least five years of experience. In big cities such as New York City and Chicago, it’s not unusual to bring in $150,000 to $225,000 a year as a court reporter.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics describes the job of court reporter — and the related role of simultaneous captioners — as follows:
“Court reporters create word-for-word transcriptions at trials, depositions, and other legal proceedings. Simultaneous captioners provide similar transcriptions for television or for presentations in other settings, such as press conferences and business meetings, for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.”
The BLS says the median annual wage for court reporters and simultaneous captioners was $60,380 in 2021, with the top 10% earning $103,270.
While you don’t need a four-year degree, some advanced training is required to become a court reporter. Many community colleges and technical institutes offer programs that can result in a certificate or associate’s degree. Most states and employers require court reporters to pass licensing exams and typing-speed tests.
The high earnings that court reporters bring in is a reminder that those who look beyond a college degree — and who are willing to think outside the box and work hard — can find roles that allow them to earn more than their more-educated peers.
For more on such opportunities, check out: