PARMA, Ohio -- As Americans with huge student debt question the worth of their degrees, careers like court reporting offer an alternative to the pricey four-year college experience.
Jobs as stenographers or court reporters are a great fit for both recent high school graduates and for more seasoned, mid-life employees. It's a field with jobs aplenty and great pay to go along with it.
"People don't usually roll out of bed and say they want to be a court reporter," says Kelly Moranz, program manager for the Tri-C court reporting and captioning program.
One reason is because many people don't know there are other opportunities for a stenographer than just sitting in court recording live testimony. Many graduates get jobs taking depositions in law offices or typing out the closed captioning for television, live press conferences and sporting events.
"They capture the spoken word, either through a stenograph machine or voice recognition technology," says Moranz.
Student Sollie Cochran had his career path mapped out, working as a health aid, until he switched careers and enrolled in Tri-C's captioning and court reporting program.
The program provides certification and takes students between 18 months and three years to complete, depending on how much time they can dedicate.
Cochran is just a few months away from starting his internship, which is where many students end up getting their first jobs.
"I'll start out in the court system, and eventually later in life do a little captioning," says Cochran.
His prospects are looking good. According to the National Court Reporters Association, 15 percent of the industry is poised to retire. That adds up to about 5,500 new job openings over the next five years.
These are definitely not minimum-wage jobs either.
Starting salaries for court reporters typically range from $45,000 to $55,000 a year. In Cleveland, the average for an experienced court reporter is between $75,000 and $80,000 a year. Some even make a yearly salary of $100,000 or more.
Another perk is job security.
"In the last 18 years, all of our graduates have successfully walked out of here with employment," says Moranz.
"It's like a sitting job," explains Cochran. "Once you graduate, you can keep a job from like 18 until you retire!"
The career is also popular with parents, who benefit from its flexibility and are able to do some work from home.
With lower tuition and less debt at the end, the program is proving to be a tempting alternative to a traditional bachelor's degree.
There will be an open house for interested students on April 19. For more information, click here.
For more information on Tri-C's captioning and court reporting program, click here.