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Del Mar College staff, students highlight the importance of court reporting

Correct translation and getting everything verbatim in a court room is critical to becoming an effective court reporter.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It's a hidden gem of the workforce, if you will -- court reporting. It requires learning a new kind of language, patience, and short nails. 

The week of Feb. 9-12 is known as "Court Reporting and Captioning Week" to help highlight the profession and the growing demand being met with the help of Del Mar College.

Challenges from cost of attendance to keeping up with the speed of real-time translation are reasons why Texas is seeing a decline in available court reporters.

Del Mar College is hoping their dual instruction can interest students.

"We write all the way up to 280 words per minute," said Suzette Weis, an assistant professor of the court reporting program at the college. "This ability and the speed are the biggest challenges students come across."

"That's the most difficult part. Everything else comes pretty easy," student John Whitaker said.

Whitaker moved from Florida to the Lonestar State and transferred from an online course to in-person at Del Mar College. He said the option helped tackle some of those challenging parts of court reporting.

"We do have a lot of students that start. Some of them might struggle and they have to drop out, like during COVID, we had some of that," Weis said.

The dropout rate for court reporting lingers between 80- to 90-percent nationwide because of the difficulty. Texas is number two behind California in terms of having the biggest shortage of court reporters.

You not only have to type well, but you must have the passion too; that's where students like Robert Muir come in.

"I really I want to say love it. You know, I love God, obviously, but if there was anything second that I could love besides God, it would be this court reporting," Muir said. He's been practicing the skill for around two and a half years.  

"It's a lot of practice, but the practice is well worth it. Just like anything, practice makes perfect. You have to get good at anything and and then it'll be rewarding whenever I do become a court reporter," Muir said.

Even though iPhones and technology are getting smarter, students and Weis said correct translation and getting everything verbatim in a courtroom is critical.

"A lot of times you're like, 'oh my gosh,' you know, 'the wrong thing came out.' We're able to watch that and we're able to correct it immediately. And it's coming up on the screen where everyone can see it," Weis said.

Currently, there are at least 40 job openings for court reporters in Texas with average pay ranging around $50,000. The local program and requirements can be found here.

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