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Online Stenography Schools: How to Choose

Instruction in stenography can be obtained through online programs in court reporting. A few community colleges offer programs in stenography, as do online for- and non-profit schools. Both associate's degrees and shorter certificate programs are available in an online format.

Since stenography jobs encompass several fields, a clear idea of your professional interests will be important in selecting online programs. Here we'll take a look at additional important factors, such as certification requirements, program lengths, and job placement options, along with a few online programs offered by specific schools.

How to Select an Online Stenography School

Besides working as court reporters, stenography students also find jobs as medical transcriptionists, freelance reporters, closed caption reporters for the hearing-impaired and publishing transcriptionists. Along with internship availability, students will need to weigh several factors including the program delivery, job placement, and certification.

Career Objectives

Stenography training can lead to different professions. Students who wish to pursue a degree or training for a state-specific licensing exam in court reporting will need to attend an accredited court-reporting program that meets state requirements.

On the other hand, students interested in becoming publishing transcriptionists or medical transcriptionists should look for programs that offer a wider range of courses. Coursework in topics such as legal and medical terminology, anatomy, psychology and speech may actually be more applicable than courtroom-focused programs.

Program Delivery

Fully online court reporting programs and hybrid programs are both available for those wishing to acquire stenography skills. Hybrid programs allow students to take some classes online and some classes on campus. Both types of programs build typing speed and focus on building students' skills in grammar and medical terminology or legal terminology.

Online schools utilize learning systems that are high-tech but user-friendly. School websites typically offer virtual classrooms where students can interact with each other, receive instruction, turn in homework and access study materials. Classes may offer synchronous and asynchronous learning activities, where students either need to attend certain activities at specific times or have the option to complete some coursework on their schedules. Study materials can include textbooks, audio-visual aids and computer software programs.

Job Placement

Students should explore the job placement departments of the schools in which they intend to enroll. Many online schools employ job placement professionals, while others merely feature help-wanted advertisements on their websites. Students should talk over their options with a placement counselor before entering a stenography program.

Certification

Following graduation from a stenography program, some states require students to take a state certification exam before they can be employed. Many states either require National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) certification or use the NCRA certification exam instead of their own exam (www.ncraonline.org).

Some states require students to attend NCRA-approved education programs before they can be certified, so always check with your state's regulations when considering a stenography program. The NCRA currently administers the registered professional reporter testing in almost half of the states in this country.

List of Online Programs Related to Stenography

Online Court Reporting Certificate

Certificate programs typically require a specified number of hours focused on coursework and a specific amount of time spent transcribing. Some online certificate programs offer credits that are transferable to associate's programs in court reporting for those wishing to further their educations and careers. Coursework includes:

  • Courtroom procedures
  • Theory practice and legal terminology
  • Shorthand techniques
  • Transcription speed skills
  • Real-time skill development and vocabulary building

Online Associate of Applied Science in Court Reporting

Associate's degree programs offer more in-depth study of court reporting theories and typically take two years to complete. Besides speed-building training and terminology, coursework can include:

  • Foundations of law
  • Modern history
  • Court reporting procedures
  • Computerized machine shorthand theory
  • Captioning environment

Schools with Online Stenography Programs

If courtroom stenography is your primary area of interest, The College of Court Reporting offers a court reporting associate's degree via either an on-campus program or an online program (tuition in 2017 is higher for online students). Also of note for online classes: in this program: courses do take place at a designated weekly time. Students have the option of completing this 85-credit, NCRA-certified curriculum within a minimum of 28 months and a maximum of 44 months. Course topics include language foundations, realtime technology and law.

Atlanta Technical College's Court Reporting Transcriptionist, CR 2 & CR 3 program is a full-time curriculum totaling 28 months and 2,850 cumulative hours of coursework, with online study options available. Typing speed, terminology and in-depth study on topics like transcription for the hearing-impaired are covered with the three-level curriculum. In order to work as a court reporter, students will need to complete every level of the program. Courses in this NCRA-approved program are designed to prepare students for certification exams.

For the associate's-level judicial court reporting program of Stark State College, students may utilize real-time tools and techniques to learn transcription skills relevant in a host of disciplines. The online program is conducted in partnership with Clark State Community College, so students will likely benefit from instruction provided by both institutions. The NCRA-approved program totals 65 credit hours.

Fully online and blended programs are available at the certificate and associate's level for prospective stenographers. While court reporting is a common career track, students should consider programs offering diversified curricula if interested in other fields. Schools with good job placement resources and flexible scheduling may also be ideal options.


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