Stenography is the other name given to writing in shorthand. Though a traditional career, yet stenographers still plays an important role. The skills and tasks of a stenographer have just evolved over time. With the help of specially designed machines known as stenotypes, stenographers document various undertakings and course of actions usually concerning the legal realm. The stenographers when particularly associated with the court proceedings are known as court reporters. Stenographers instantly record the summary of the proceedings, court cases, minutes of the meeting, and television series for official documentation or captioning. They are mainly employed with administrative and legal support services, information services, local and state government. They generally work full-time in tandem with the business operations.
There are stenographer typists whose work differs from that of one using a steno mask. The typists receive comprehensive training and the ones working in courts should have a license. The speed of typing at a rate of typing 225 words a minute is imperative for the role of a stenographer typist. Thus, a stenographer needs to have specific skills to have a stable career. Here are the important skills and qualifications:
- Field of qualification and level: Formal training programs are available that will prepare you to achieve the right prowess to become a notable stenographer. The court reporters can undergo an education program specifically made for this job role. Certificate programs are available to equip you with the necessary skill.
- License: Many organizations require a license to recognize your ingenuity as a stenographer. Especially if you are aspiring to be a stenographer in the courts then having a license is mandatory. You will be given due recognition only after you acquire the certification and licensing imperative to be a stenographer.
- Attention to detailing: The stenographer needs to pay close attention to the cases and hearings and to the various other spheres in other organizations to document them faster. Making copies faster does not mean that he is allowed to make mistakes. Hence, he needs to lend his ear to every single point discussed to concise the whole meeting in a nutshell accentuating the important pointers.
- Concentration: The steno needs to keep his focus intact no matter how boring the case or the visuals in case of the media industry are.
- Listening skills: The stenographer has to be a patient listener. In order to understand the crux of the matter, he needs to decipher the essential elements. So good listening skill is a must have.
- Writing: The stenographer needs to have good writing skills. He may not be a poet using flamboyant language throughout. But he needs to summarize the whole episode in simple words that are easily comprehensible by the authority.
- Technical knowledge: Since the inception of computers and systems, a stenographer documents his work through a computer keyboard. He needs to be aware of few of the software to work easy and fast. He should be accustomed to OMTI Reporter Base, Chase Software Solutions Court Reporting software, Reporter Works, Court pages, Microsoft Word and Excel. Above all, he should be adept with handling stenotype machines.
Thus if you imbibe the above-mentioned skills then you will be all set to be a stenographer.
Although the primary job of a stenographer is to produce transcripts quickly, however, there are many other responsibilities that come in his purview. They are as follows:
- Maintaining and updating the stenotype dictionary: A stenographer is responsible for the expansion of the internal dictionary of a stenotype machine. The stenotype machine converts the strokes of the keys into words on the document. Hence, it is essential to update the wordlist in the machine so that new words can be recognized by the system. The items that need to be feed into the internal memory include specialized words, buzzwords, names and official terminologies to name a few.
- Edit and amendment of the transcripts: Stenographer’s job does not end with the session of dictation. Post documentation, a stenographer has to review and re-check the transcripts for errors and mistakes. He needs to check for the spellings, punctuations, correct terms and other inaccuracies present in the document to make it error free.
- Arranging and mailing the document: post documentation and editing, a stenographer needs to make sure that they are organized and transcript copies are in an order. He is also responsible for distributing these transcripts to the entitled parties. He needs to print, fax or mail the copies to the necessary party.
After analyzing the necessary skills and the responsibilities of an adept stenographer, next we need to consider the scope of this career. A stenographer can have multiple paths to walk into to grow in their career. There are options of freelancing by offering services as private contractors. These freelancers can also form their own organizations offering independent services to the clients. Years of experience in stenography open the avenue of teaching to the trainee stenographers. Acquiring specialized skills also helps them to advance in the desired career path.
Therefore, the job of a stenographer has evolved with time and found a new dimension. Imbibe the skills and assess the pros and cons of this field toenjoy the fruit of success.