Court reporting — the verdict is in

The 2013 court re­port­ing gradu­at­ing class at Or­leans Tech­nic­al In­sti­tute is the biggest class in the pro­gram’s his­tory. 

Pomp and cir­cum­stance: Joe Henry (middle front) is one of 27 mem­bers of the 2013 court re­port­ing gradu­at­ing class at Or­leans Tech­nic­al In­sti­tute. The gradu­ation ce­re­mony took place last month. PHOTO COUR­TESY OF VER­OLUCE PHO­TO­GRAPHY

Joe Henry wanted a pro­fes­sion with flex­ible hours and the po­ten­tial to make good money, and he thinks the court re­port­ing field will of­fer him that.

Henry, a 21-year-old from Mod­ena Park, is one of 27 mem­bers of the 2013 court re­port­ing gradu­at­ing class at Or­leans Tech­nic­al In­sti­tute.

“I’m 21 years old and start­ing my ca­reer,” he said. “There are plenty of jobs out there.”

The gradu­ation ce­re­mony took place on June 11 at Plumb­ers Loc­al 690’s Wa­ter­fall Room.

Henry is fin­ish­ing up a few classes and his in­tern­ship at Strehlow & As­so­ci­ates Inc., a court re­port­ing agency based in New­town, Bucks County.

Earli­er, he in­terned at the Crim­in­al Justice Cen­ter.

Gradu­ation day for Henry will be Aug. 23, and he ex­pects to be freel­an­cing for Strehlow as his first pro­fes­sion­al job.

“This fall, I’ll be work­ing and mak­ing money. I won’t have to ex­plain where I go to school,” he said.

Or­leans has offered a court re­port­ing pro­gram since 1986, and the 2013 gradu­at­ing class is the biggest in its his­tory.

Still, many people view Or­leans as a trade school. In­deed, it of­fers car­pentry, elec­tric­al, plumb­ing and heat­ing and air con­di­tion­ing and re­fri­ger­a­tion.

The court re­port­ing pro­gram re­mains pop­u­lar, and Or­leans wel­comes people to ob­serve a class Tues­days at 8:45 a.m. and Wed­nes­days at 6 p.m. The school is loc­ated at 2770 Red Li­on Road.

In ad­di­tion, there will be an on­line we­bin­ar on Wed­nes­day, Aug. 7, at noon. Re­serve a place by go­ing to www.go­tomeet­­gister/304953272

Court re­port­ers tran­scribe de­pos­itions or court pro­ceed­ings; sit in on busi­ness meet­ings, stock­hold­er ses­sions, pub­lic hear­ings and ar­bit­ra­tions; and provide closed cap­tion­ing of news, en­ter­tain­ment, sports and live broad­casts for people who are deaf or hard of hear­ing.

Their job is to de­liv­er a ver­batim ac­count of the spoken word.

“It really is an in­ter­est­ing pro­fes­sion,” said Or­leans ad­mis­sions dir­ect­or Debbie Bello.

Or­leans boasts 100 per­cent job place­ment for gradu­ates. And, as noted on CNNMoney and by oth­er sources, some court re­port­ers can earn up to $100,000 a year.

“You can do freel­ance work as much as you want,” Bello said.

Henry, who ap­peared in a tele­vi­sion com­mer­cial pro­mot­ing a re­cent open house, fol­lowed his older sis­ter Ju­lie in­to the pro­fes­sion.

Ju­lie Henry, 25, at­ten­ded Com­munity Col­lege of Phil­adelphia after gradu­at­ing from Arch­bish­op Ry­an High School. She later worked for a sign com­pany and did some bar­tend­ing at Paddy Whacks and Chick­ie’s & Pete’s.

Back then, the court re­port­ing course was offered in Cen­ter City, and she did not have any in­terest in trav­el­ing there for classes. In 2007, the pro­gram moved to Or­leans Tech­nic­al In­sti­tute’s new loc­a­tion at 2770 Red Li­on Road, and she jumped at the chance to en­roll.

Today, she freel­ances for Strehlow & As­so­ci­ates, and makes pretty good money. She has some tips for pro­spect­ive stu­dents.

“It’s not for every­one,” she said. “You have to be com­mit­ted. You have to prac­tice a lot. You pretty much know in the first semester if you’ll be able to do it.”

Joe Henry gradu­ated from Ry­an in 2010. He was think­ing of try­ing to play lacrosse in col­lege, but wasn’t sure of a ca­reer path, so he took the same route as his sis­ter. He en­rolled in Septem­ber 2010 and is gradu­at­ing in three years.

“Once my sis­ter men­tioned you can pick your sched­ule, it was a pro­fes­sion­al field and you can make good money, it seemed per­fect,” he said.

The Or­leans court re­port­ing classes teach stu­dents ste­no­graphy skills, court pro­ced­ures and leg­al and med­ic­al ter­min­o­logy. Teach­ers also stress that they must dress and act pro­fes­sion­ally at work sites.

To pass, a stu­dent needs to be able to type 225 words per minute on their ma­chine, which in­cludes a key­board, screen and re­cord­ing device.

“You’re not go­ing to get it right away,” said Joe Henry, adding that stu­dents typ­ic­ally start at 40 words a minute.

Classes took place Mondays through Thursdays, mostly in the day, but some­times at night.

Henry has giv­en up time at his fam­ily’s home in North Wild­wood, N.J., to fo­cus on his school­ing. 

“It was worth it. I’m 21 and I’m done. That was my plan,” he said.

In the classroom, he’s up­beat. The oth­ers stu­dents have nick­named him “PJ,” for “Pos­it­ive Joe.”

The oth­er stu­dents are all wo­men, and fe­males dom­in­ate the pro­fes­sion.

“It’s mostly wo­men. There aren’t many guys in the field,” Henry said. “I don’t get why guys don’t do it. I love it.”

Henry’s past work ex­per­i­ence has mostly been in del­is. He’s glad he’ll no longer have to cut his fin­gers on a slicer.

Look­ing back, the de­cision to be­come a court re­port­er was a good one for him. He is look­ing for­ward to learn­ing more on the job.

“This schooI def­in­itely helped me,” he said. “There’s al­ways an­oth­er goal to reach. I can’t wait to get bet­ter and bet­ter.” ••

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