2017 has seen the onset of the “war for talent.” Recruiters are struggling to find qualified candidates across all industries. Specifically, jobs that require specialized skill sets are suffering these shortfalls. Registered nurses, pharmacy technicians, software engineers, vocational teachers and many other professionals are in short supply.
Add qualified court reporters to the list. The legal and court reporting industries are facing a looming court reporter shortage. Unless this trend reverses, it could have some serious, negative repercussions for the industry long-term. On the other hand, this market could present many opportunities for both current and prospective court reporters.
In 2013, Ducker Worldwide released a report predicting an impending court reporter shortage. According to the report, the industry will begin feeling the effects of this shortfall in 2018. Projections indicate that the shortage will represent nearly 5,500 qualified reporters. But why would such a lucrative industry experience this kind of shortage?
There are several factors at play:
With high demand, high retirement and low enrollment, there just are not enough reporters to go around. All of these factors contribute to the imminent court reporter shortage, despite the rewarding opportunities the industry offers.
There is an ongoing debate right now between legislators, legal professionals and court reporters as to whether this shortage will have significant impact on the legal industry and the court reporting industry. Many legislators tend to dismiss the concern over the shortage. They argue that the advent of digital recording technology will make court reporting an unnecessary, outdated profession. It is true that many courts are incorporating digital recording and voice recognition technology. But is court reporting really dying out? Will technology save us from the shortage?
The answer is no. As every experienced lawyer (and most experienced judges) recognize: qualified human court reporters continue to be indispensable to the legal process. All too frequently, digital recordings lead to garbled testimony and equipment failures. Without human judgment, digital recordings are unable to detect the nuances of human language with 100% accuracy. Technological advances provide useful tools for court reporters. However, current digital technology is just too limited and fallacious to be solely relied upon.
What This Means for Reporters
All this begs the question: What impact will this shortage have on current and prospective court reporters? Current court reporters will experience an increased demand for their services. Court reporting firms and freelance reporters will likely encounter more and more opportunities for business. Some experienced professionals may even find themselves caught up in bidding wars for their expertise. However, as demand rises and professionals retire, court reporting firms and legal firms will find it increasingly difficult to hire qualified, quality reporters.
Prospective court reporters will find themselves entering a lucrative career with boundless opportunity. There are countless benefits to pursuing court reporting:
Low awareness among young prospects contributes greatly to the current court reporter shortage. To help overcome this, the industry would benefit greatly by making itself more visible. If court reporting firms, seasoned reporters, and schools more effectively advocate for the benefits of this career path, perhaps awareness and interest will begin to spread. Court reporting can be a fulfilling, lucrative career, and with the current shortage, opportunities for young professionals are boundless.