For 13 years, Shermaine Williams was a bank manager/vice president. She did an about-face, decided to change careers and studied at Brown College of Court Reporting.
“Work-life balance is very important to me,” says Williams, a 2015 graduate. That spurred her decision to change careers. Her children are now 10 and 16. “My children were even smaller back then, and I just felt like I was always at work,” she says. “[My job] became monotonous, and I didn’t want to go to the executive level, so I decided to make a change.”
Williams said choosing Brown College over others was a simple one. “I live in Atlanta, and they ran commercials all the time,” she says. “It’s the only accredited court reporting school here in Georgia.” That impressed her about Brown – as did the opportunity to get real-life experience from an externship. “The externship was 80 hours. I did 40 hours of court work and 40 hours of freelance.”
Brown College of Court Reporting offers flexible day, night and online full-time and part-time learning options. Williams chose to go to campus every day. With small class sizes, students are able to build stronger relationships with faculty members – who are all practitioners in the legal field – as well as fellow students.
Brown College offers two types of court reporting programs: stenography and voice writing. In the traditional stenography program, court reporters use 22-key stenotype keyboards to record court proceedings. This shorthand language is known as machine shorthand, and the court reporters later transcribe the abbreviated words into complete understandable sentences.
Shermaine Williams graduated from Brown’s voice writing program, in which she uses her voice rather than her fingers to document courtroom proceedings. Voice writers speak into a steno mask that uses voice recognition computer software to translate the spoken word to text. Brown College graduates in both the stenography and voice writing programs master these skills and are able to produce 225 words per minute with 95 percent accuracy.
“I am currently freelance reporting,” Williams says. “I wanted the flexibility in my schedule; I didn’t want to be confined to a set schedule.” As a freelancer, Williams does both courtroom and deposition work in different areas of law – criminal, civil, juvenile. “When I get burned out on one, I go to something else,” she says. For example, one week she may work in state court, recording proceedings on traffic offenses and misdemeanors. The following week she might be doing depositions. She really enjoys the variety of assignments.
On the other hand, some court reporters work for a particular judge and appear in the courtroom whenever the judge hears a case. That is usually more of a set, 9 to 5 type schedule and is often a more difficult opportunity to secure. For 46 years, Brown College has prepared students for both types of court reporting opportunities. As the only National Court Reporters Association (NCRA)-certified court reporting program in Georgia, Brown has earned a reputation for excellence, with 98 percent of graduates working in the field. All of the students in Williams’ graduating class are currently employed.
For anyone considering a career as a court reporter, Williams offers some sage advice. “It’s hard work but it’s well worth it. Nothing great happens instantly. Be patient. Take your time and soak in all that you can soak in, and when it’s your time, you’ll be thoroughly prepared and ready. You’ll be so glad you did it.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2017 median pay for court reporters was $55,120 annually. Brown College offers flexible schedules, professional instructors and job placement assistance and may be able to help with financial aid. If you’re ready to type – or talk – your way into an exciting career, contact Brown College of Court Reporting.