One-time offer in honor of Celebrate Certification Month

Online Skills Tests

In honor of NCRA’s first Celebrate Certification Month being observed in May, the cost for students and members to take the online Skills Tests for the RPR, RMR, CRR, or CRC has been reduced.

The discounts are valid only from May 2 through May 16. Students taking the RPR Skills Tests will pay $60 for each leg, and members taking the RPR or RMR will pay $75 for each leg. In addition, students can take advantage of a discounted price of $145 for the CRC Skills Test, while members will pay only $175 for either the CRR or CRC skills test.

NCRA Store

Additional weekly specials can be found in the NCRA Store during Celebrate Certification Month. During the first week of May, NCRA’s RPR Study Guide is 20 percent off. Other discounts include:

  • May 8-14 – 10% off P-336 Deposition Handbook
  • May 15-21 – 20% off all downloads
  • May 22-28 – 10% off entire store
  • May 29-31 – 10% off P-133 Morson’s Guide
Webinars and E-seminars

NCRA has also lowered the prices on its webinars and e-seminars, which members can take advantage of during Celebrate Certification Month. For a 60-minute webinar or e-seminar, NCRA members now pay $55 compared to a nonmember price of $79. In addition, the price for a 90-minute webinar or e-seminar has been lowered to $75 for NCRA members. Nonmembers pay $99 for the same 90-minute products.

Find out more about NCRA’s webinars and e-seminars and be sure to visit the Celebrate Certification Month page for resources you can use to mark the month-long campaign.

PROFILE: Jeseca C. Eddington, RDR, CRR, CRC

Jeseca Eddington, RDR, CRR, CRC

Jeseca Eddington, RDR, CRR, CRC

Official court reporter
Currently resides in: Detroit, Mich.
Member since: 2002
Graduated from: Academy of Court Reporting
Theory: Realtime compatible

JCR | Why was it important for you to earn the RDR certification?
EDDINGTON | I made it my personal goal to become a part of this exclusive club that only welcomes the best of the best. Being a Registered Diplomate Reporter means that I have attained the highest level of excellence in the field of court reporting and it commands respect from my peers. I have obtained many certifications that have helped advance my career and I have remained humble. But when I passed the RDR, I shouted from the rooftops and let the world know! Most importantly, those letters look great behind my name.

JCR | Why do you think professional certification is important?
EDDINGTON | NCRA certifications separate the wheat from the chaff. When it comes to employment, certifications let potential employers know that I am qualified for the job even before opening my mouth to speak. So the only thing left for me to do during an interview process is to focus on my experience and wow them with my winning personality.

JCR | What has been your best work experience so far in your career?
EDDINGTON | Yes, I have corralled upwards of 75 attorneys and taken charge during those court proceedings to make sure the record remained accurate and uncompromised. Yes, I have earned in two weeks what is equal to a half year’s salary for some. Yes, I have earned a litany of certifications. But the most rewarding part of my career thus far has been teaching! In the 18 years I have been in this wonderful field, the most fulfilling part of my job is when I am able to help others – be it teaching, mentoring, or the occasional pro bono work.

JCR | Is there something else you would like to share about yourself?
EDDINGTON | Outside of my demanding job, I love to spend quality time with my husband and our tween and toddler daughters. I have even calendared events such as Meatless Mondays where we try different vegetarian recipes; Workout Wednesdays where we do a physical activity together as a family; and Family Fridays, which can include anything from board games to movie night. In addition, I enjoy vegetable gardening and creating artwork.

PROFILE: James Pence-Aviles, RMR, CRR

James Pence-Aviles, RMR, CRR

James Pence-Aviles, RMR, CRR

Official court reporter
Currently resides in: Imperial Beach, Calif.
Member since: 2005
Graduated from: Court Reporting Institute
Theory: Phoenix Theory

JCR | Why did you decide to earn an NCRA certification?
PENCE-AVILES | I decided to test for the RPR because it was being offered a month before the California CSR exam. I thought it would be good practice for the CSR. I actually thought the RPR was even harder than the CSR! Looking back, it was probably the best career decision I ever made, because I’m now an official in federal court, which requires that you at least have your RPR.

JCR | You competed a few years ago in the Speed Contest. Did that factor in your decision to earn additional certifications?
PENCE-AVILES | It didn’t because I never thought I would be good enough to compete in the Speed Contest. I listened to a few Speed Contest tapes when I was a brand-new reporter, and they blew me away. I never thought I would be able to write at 280 wpm. It wasn’t until I began working in federal court that I seriously began thinking about giving it a shot. People in federal court tend to speak really fast, so it was good practice for the Speed Contest. In 2014, the NCRA convention was being held in San Francisco, not far from where I was working at the time, and my coworker and mentor Jo Ann Bryce, RMR, CRR, encouraged me to give the contest a shot. So I did, and it turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences of my career. It turned out to be a very pleasant and fun experience. It helped that I knew people who were taking it, too. Compared to the CSR, RMR, or CRR, it was a piece of cake! Placing fourth in the 220 Literary and seventh overall was just icing on the cake.

JCR | Have you gotten a job specifically as a result of your certification?
PENCE-AVILES | Yes. In 2014, I applied for a position in the United States District Court in San Francisco, and the CRR was mandatory for that position. In 2015, I transferred to the Federal Court in San Diego, which also requires those certifications.

JCR | Why do you think professional certification is important?
PENCE-AVILES | It’s important because you never know where your career may take you. In 2012, I was laid off from the San Diego Superior Court due to statewide budget cuts, and from there, I did independent contract work in Florida and then ended up in Federal Court in San Francisco, then transferred back home to San Diego a year later. That wouldn’t have been possible without my national certifications. It also helps you stand out from other reporters, and it can lead to better and more lucrative work, especially if you have the realtime certification.

JCR | What would you say to encourage others considering professional certification?
PENCE-AVILES | Get as many certifications as possible. If your state has a CSR, get that CSR and never let it lapse. Also, get as many NCRA certifications as you can, no matter what career path you take, whether it’s an official, freelancer, captioner, teacher, etc. Most importantly, never give up. If it takes you a few tries to get your certs, keep at it. The end result is absolutely worth it.

JCR | What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?
PENCE-AVILES | Besides the Speed Contest, I would consider my current assignment in federal court to be my greatest professional accomplishment. I’m currently assigned to the chief judge, who suffers from a rare neurological disorder that affects his speech. I’ve worked for him since 2015, and I’m one of two reporters in our district who is able to understand him. Since 2017, a fellow court reporter and I have been providing realtime of the judge’s statements for the court staff, the attorneys, and the public pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, so everyone can follow along and understand the proceedings. It helps the judge, the attorneys, and the public. It’s a difficult and challenging assignment, but it’s also a very important job and one that I’m proud to do.

PROFILE: Laura Ohman, RPR

Laura Ohman, RPR

Laura Ohman, RPR

Freelance court reporter
Currently resides in: Tacoma, Wash.
Member since: 2008
Graduated from: Bates Technical College
Theory: Phoenix Theory

JCR | Why did you decide to earn an NCRA certification?
OHMAN | After a few years working as a court reporter, I really hit my stride and had a lot of confidence in my ability. I wanted my credentials to reflect that! I passed the RPR in 2014 and, to this day, when I look at my business card and see my credential, I have such a sense of accomplishment! It was also important to me to get my NCRA certification so my peers and firms knew that I was competent and that they could trust me to do a great job for them.

JCR | How has certification helped you professionally?
OHMAN | Obtaining my RPR gave me personal confidence to take on more complex cases. I remember being asked to take on a pharmaceutical case with around 15 attorneys. My immediate response was to run for the hills. Then I paused, remembered I am not only state-certified but nationally certified. I said yes, I did great, and I was happy I did it. I’ve gained so much more experience by remembering that I’m an RPR, I’m capable, and I am just saying yes to the complex cases.

JCR | Have you gotten a job specifically as a result of your certification?
OHMAN | Absolutely! Before my RPR credential, I got assigned and asked to do a lot of personal injury and family law work, which I actually really enjoy. But it’s easier work. After my RPR, that’s when I started getting into medical malpractice, maritime, asbestos, and so on! Yes, it’s more challenging, but it’s usually much more lucrative. I think having an NCRA certification definitely puts you at the top of the list when firms are looking for reporters to represent their company.

JCR | What would you say to encourage others considering  professional certification?
OHMAN | Go for it! You will never regret getting a new certification. We are professionals, and we have a serious job to do. Getting those credentials and doing your CEUs will only help you learn, achieve, and ultimately make more money!

JCR | What has been your best work experience so far in your career?
OHMAN | I’ve had the chance to meet a few famous folks, which was of course so fun! I’ve had the chance to travel out of the country, which was of course so fun! But I think my best moment was when I did a five-hour doctor asbestos deposition only to learn at the end they wanted a rough draft and I didn’t panic. I said, “No problem,” and I was able to hand it over right then and there. That was my “wow” moment, that I’d become the court reporter I had always looked up to.

JCR | What surprised you about your career?
OHMAN | Oh, the things you learn! It’s really neat to get to hear about a veteran’s experience in Vietnam one day and then hear about how high-rises are constructed the next and then the next day you learn about how to start a franchise. You get to peek into so many worlds and learn about so many different topics. It fascinates me!

JCR | Is there something else you would like to share about yourself?
OHMAN | I would just say that I love this job because it has enabled me to create a life that works for me. I am a mom to two young children, and having the ability to be flexible on the hours I work has made my life so easy and usually so balanced. There’s not a lot of jobs in the world where you can be a professional and a parent and feel like you’re giving your best to both. I love my job. After 10 years, I’m still so thankful I do what I do.

PROFILE: Teri C. Gibson, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI

Teri C. Gibson, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI

Teri C. Gibson, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI

Freelance court reporter and CART captioner
Currently resides in: Boston, Mass.
Member since: 1986
Graduated from: Chicago College of Commerce
Theory: Stenographic Theory and Computer Compatible Stenography Theory

JCR | Why did you decide to earn an NCRA certification?
GIBSON | When I was a student in college in Chicago, Ill., to work in Illinois, you had to become certified. So I took the NCRA test back in 1981.

JCR | Why did you decide to freelance?
GIBSON | In the beginning of my career, I wanted to become an official court reporter.
That doesn’t happen right away. You have to get experience.  After six months as a freelance court reporter, I was married and moved to Massachusetts. I worked as a freelance court reporter for many years. I was a hearings stenographer with the Department of Industrial Accidents. I found that job didn’t give me the challenge that I enjoyed as a freelance reporter, so I went back to working as a freelance reporter. Through time, I developed my realtime skills. I worked as a federal official for almost 10 years. I went back to freelance, but this time I went into CART captioning because I loved writing realtime and there was a great need for CART captioners.

JCR | Why was it important for you to earn so many different certifications?
GIBSON | Certifications verify your skill level. As a CART captioner, I wanted that certification because it gives prospective clients the assurance that I am certified and can provide the service.

JCR | Have you gotten a job specifically as a result of your certification?
GIBSON | As a freelancer in Illinois, it was required to become certified. Without it, I would not have been able to work at all. In Massachusetts, I don’t believe it’s required, but having my certification when I did move to Boston, I had no trouble getting work.

JCR | Why do you think professional certification is important?
GIBSON | This allows whoever hires you to know that you have the knowledge and skills to perform the work as a court reporter or as a CART captioner.

JCR | What would you say to others considering professional certification?
GIBSON | Certification is only a baseline for the professional starting their career. Through time as you work as a court reporter or CART captioner, you will improve your knowledge and skill level. I would like to encourage all court reporters to get the CSR or RPR and all CART captioners get the CRR. This allows you to have the basic skills needed to start working as a court reporter or CART captioner.

When writing on the steno machine, there are times we are confronted with really hard-working environments that can cause us to doubt that we have what it takes. When you have difficult working environments and situations, you can handle the stress better and continue to write on the steno machine.

I would also encourage new working court reporters to transcribe their own work and use a proofreader in the beginning so that they can continue to build their stenographic skills and knowledge base. Also, if you are able, take classes or seminars and learn about things that interest you or set a goal for something you may want to do in the future and get ready. Have something that you are passionate about or that you can enjoy outside of court reporting. I say this because court reporting exposes us to the experiences of people who have experienced trauma, broken the law, and very stressful situations; it’s important to have positive and joyful experiences to counterbalance.

JCR | What has been your best work experience so far in your career?
GIBSON | I love working as a court reporter and CART captioner. When working as a CART captioner, the consumers are more appreciative of your skills.

JCR | Is there something else you would like to share?
GIBSON | I am a woman with many talents besides being a stenographer. I am a teacher at heart. I was a Sunday School teacher for more than 25 years. Now I am developing my skills for teaching as a Christian Life Coach, and I am an authorized trainer of the Total Eclipse Software. Through the years, I worked as a fitness instructor. I taught aerobics, step, and spinning. I love to swim, knit, read, listen to audiobooks, and writing. I have four books to complete to publish.

PROFILE: Catherine J. Phillips, FAPR, RMR, CMRS

Catherine Phillips, FAPR, RMR, CMRS

Catherine Phillips, FAPR, RMR, CMRS

Freelance court reporter
Currently resides in: Ocala, Fla.
Member since: 1988
Graduated from: Jones Business College, Orlando, Fla.
Theory: I truly do not remember, but after reporting for over 36 years, I call it “Cathy’s Theory”

JCR | Why did you decide to earn an NCRA certification?
PHILLIPS | Personal satisfaction, plus I had just opened a freelance firm and my
business partner and I felt it would help market our firm being certified.

JCR | You have been involved with some of NCRA’s committees. Can you tell us a
little about what you’ve done and how it affects your perspective about the profession?
PHILLIPS | I have chaired NCRA’s National Committee of State Associations; chaired Constitution & Bylaws Committee; chaired the Committee on Professional Ethics; been a member of the Council of the Academy of Professional Reporters (or CAPR); and served on the Nominating Committee. I have learned from every committee I have ever served on within NCRA. I have never been just a dues-paying type member. I am one to always be involved. Being involved helps you to become a better advocate for this profession. It keeps you current on the changes in the industry and how to keep yourself viable within the industry. It has also allowed me to network with a lot of reporters, and I have made many lifelong friends.

JCR | Do you have any advice for students in school and people who are just getting out of school?
PHILLIPS | My one piece of advice I cannot stress more to students and new reporters is to learn time management. If you are not an organized person, get organized. This business will provide enough chaos, and if you are organized (if only in your professional life), you will be ahead of the game.

JCR | Why was it important for you to earn the RMR certification?
PHILLIPS | After receiving my RPR, the next natural progression was to attempt the RMR. It is important to me to challenge myself to improve my craft and aim for the next level.

JCR | Why do you think professional certification is important?
PHILLIPS | I believe it’s important to keep achieving the next level. Even if your clients don’t know what your certifications mean, other reporters definitely will, and they respect your level of achievement.

JCR | What would you say to encourage others considering professional certification?
PHILLIPS | I received my RPR 10 years after I started reporting and received my RMR 9 years after that, so 19 years after I first started reporting. I encourage reporters that you don’t have to have just finished school to attain these advanced certifications. Just practice, and you will reach your goals.

JCR | What has been your best work experience so far in your career?
PHILLIPS | What I love about court reporting is my work experiences change every single day. We are exposed to so many different things that I never even knew existed; or if I did know about them, I’ve learned more about them. Some days are more interesting than others, but it’s always interesting.

JCR | What surprised you about your career?
PHILLIPS | In 1996 I took a leave of absence to do a home therapy program with our son. Before then, I went to work every day and pretty much was just going through the motions. During my leave, I realized how much I loved reporting and how much I missed it when I couldn’t do it. After my leave is when I got involved in my state association in Florida and then NCRA. It was then that I realized I didn’t just have a job, I had a career. I had a renewed love for court reporting.

JCR | What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?
PHILLIPS | In 2015, I was awarded the Emily Mann Distinguished Service Award from the Florida Court Reporters Association, and I also became an NCRA Fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporters (or FAPR). Receiving these two distinctions from one’s peers was very humbling. For them to acknowledge all I had contributed to the profession — that was very rewarding. Of course, I haven’t done all I have done for both associations for the recognition; I do it because I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy doing it.

PROFILE: Esrom Jayasinghe, CLVS

Videographer

Esrom Jayasinghe, CLVS

Esrom Jayasinghe, CLVS

Currently resides in: Los Angeles, Calif.
Member since: 1991

JCR | Why was it important to earn a CLVS certification?
JAYASINGHE | I wanted to say “yes” to anyone who asked the question “Are you certified?” I entered the field of legal video production after a stint as a child actor in a TV series and earning a degree in broadcasting. I also had a hobby of photography and videography. Before I was certified, I was already shooting depositions, having being trained by the office manager of a court reporting agency. I became friends with a videographer, Robert MacTavish, CLVS, who I met on a double-booking, and he encouraged me to get certified. After I was certified, I joined the CLVS committee and served for approximately 19 years. I include my CLVS certification in my read-on to remind the participants of that distinction.

JCR | Have you received a job specifically because of your certification?
JAYASINGHE | There have been many instances where I have been hired because of my certification. I cannot quantify the instances as all my marketing includes the CLVS certification.

JCR | Why do you think professional certification is important?
JAYASINGHE | Consistency. As the owner of Verbatim Video, when I hire other videographers in various parts of the state and country, I find comfort in working with other CLVS members as we speak “one language.” No need to qualify them in regards to the number of microphones, back-up recordings, audio for the reporter, backgrounds, or turnaround time.

JCR | What would you say to encourage others considering earning professional certification?
JAYASINGHE | When I interview videographers, I test their knowledge and experience by asking them about their gear. I want to hear specific model numbers of cameras and microphones etc., which helps me determine their knowledge of their gear. A CLVS certification will be a “premium” model number in the basket of gear that they bring to the field of legal video production.

JCR | What has been your best work experience so far in your career?
JAYASINGHE | When I started working as an independent videographer, I quickly realized that I was my own manager. Running my own business is the best work experience I have had. Having the CLVS training reduced my risk on the video production side of the business. Learning the emerging editing software and trial presentation software is rewarding. These programs used to be frustrating endeavors many years ago as they would crash.

JCR | What surprised you about your career and why?
JAYASINGHE | The role of the legal videographer has become complex. The video production technology has been changing rapidly, making production complex. We work with computer file sizes where a day’s deposition can get as large as 100 gigabytes but fit on a memory device the size of a fingernail. To be successful, one not only needs to know how to record a deposition but also have additional equipment for site inspections, knowledge of moving large files on the web, powerful computers for processing/editing video, and training for trial presentation.

JCR | What do you consider your greatest professional achievement?
JAYASINGHE | My company, Verbatim Video, has been serving the Los Angeles legal community for the past 25 years. I have been a legal videographer for the past 30 years. I consider myself quite a lucky guy to “survive” in this highly competitive city. I am very proud of the working relationships that I have maintained with clients and fellow videographers, many relationships ranging as long as I have been in business.

JCR | Is there something you would like to share?
JAYASINGHE | I believe, whether you are a videographer or court reporter, continuing education is what makes one’s job more satisfying. Attending seminars with fellow professionals or watching videos online keeps us energized with new ideas. Learning and sharing new video equipment or ways to configure your gear for emerging client demands, such as picture-in-picture depositions, are ways to make your job more interesting and create additional profit centers.

PROFILE: Kimberly Xavier, RDR, CRR, CRC, CMRS, CRI

Kimberly Xavier, RDR, CRR, CRC, CMRS, CRI

Kimberly Xavier, RDR, CRR, CRC, CMRS, CRI

Official court reporter
Currently resides in: Arlington, Texas
Member since: 1994
Graduated from: Brown Institute of Court Reporting, Longview, Texas
Theory: StenEd

JCR | Why was it important for you to earn so many certifications?
XAVIER | I’ve always been a “learner.” I love to learn as much as I can take in. But if I had to pin it down, I would say the desire to earn certifications was largely due to cultural and environmental influences early in life. I do know that it was never an option for me to not challenge myself to be the best that I could be at whatever I was trying to accomplish. I think if you could eavesdrop inside the home of just about any African-American family in this country, regardless of their socioeconomic background, you would hear children being told that they must be extraordinary in order to be noticed. You would hear them being told that they could not slack off. You would hear them being told they have to outperform their non-black counterparts just to be considered equal. When you hear that all your life, it can easily become a part of your DNA and who you are. So I’d say I’ve always taken those admonishments to heart.

JCR | Have you gotten a job specifically as a result of your certifications?
XAVIER | I was appointed to report a high-profile change-of-venue case years ago due to my realtime capabilities, and having advanced certifications definitely made saying yes a lot easier and stress-free for me.

JCR | What would you say to encourage others considering earning professional certifications?
XAVIER | The best advice I could give would be to do it now! If you’re a newbie, don’t stop after graduating from school. Continue on the test-taking journey. If you’ve been reporting for a while, do yourself a favor and take that first step and actually register for your chosen exam with an eye toward passing it and not just trying it out to see what it’s like. If you really want it, that financial investment will be what pushes you to commit to the time and effort it will take to pass. So many of us are waiting for something else to happen before we jump in and do it, but there will never be a right time. You will always be busy. There will always be something to distract you. In fact, we often create other things to distract ourselves. Taking an exam is so different from our day-to-day jobs that the longer we wait after completing court reporting school, the harder it is to get back into the flow of standardized testing.

JCR | What surprised you about your career?
XAVIER | I am surprised that I am still working as a reporter and enjoying it! I came to reporting after a stint in the military; and at that time, it was customary for most people to retire after about 20 years in the military. So that number has always stuck in my head as “long enough to be on a job.” But there have been very few days in almost 24 years that I felt like I was going to work. I still enjoy what I’m doing.

JCR | What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?
XAVIER | I enjoy encouraging others to challenge themselves. I enjoy helping others reach their potential in the field. So I would say my greatest accomplishments would probably have something to do with students who eventually become reporters and new reporters who have come to me for training and stuck it out with me. So when I see someone I’ve had a hand in mentoring or training, and they’re excelling and doing their thing in the field and actually enjoying it as much as I do, I consider that an awesome accomplishment.

PROFILE: Lindsay Stoker, RPR, CRC

Lindsay Stoker, RPR, CRR

Lindsay Stoker, RPR, CRR

Captioner
Currently resides in: Los Angeles, Calif.
Member since: 2010
Graduated from: Self-taught after school closed when in 200s
Theory: Phoenix Theory

JCR | Why did you decide to earn an certification?
STOKER | The RPR demonstrates that you have the speed and key industry knowledge necessary for the job. The CRC exhibits your accuracy. Together, they show you are committed to the profession and prove you are capable of performing under intense pressure for a specified duration.

JCR | Have you gotten a job specifically as a result of your certification?
STOKER | I have made many new business connections because I had my certifications. Despite the fact that they are not required for captioning, I have found the RPR and CRC certifications to be useful. Those credentials are very important when working with industry outsiders or with new contacts in the profession. It provides instant credibility — a straightforward way to get through the first screening when making an unestablished connection. A demo often follows. Many firms and contacts also require certification as a minimum qualification.

JCR | What would you say to encourage others considering earning professional certification?
STOKER | Embrace failure. These tests are designed to be tough. It took me several attempts before passing, but the reward was so much greater. Don’t be discouraged when you fail an exam. Learn as many lessons as you can from each attempt. Reach out to others and capitalize from their experiences. Change your game plan and try again. If you fail, rinse and repeat. I have achieved the greatest growth in my life from failure.

JCR | What surprised you about your career?
STOKER | When I originally started court reporting school, I was working for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and was certain that I would go into depositions and perhaps an officialship. I had a degree in Criminal Justice Administration. The path ahead seemed clear. What I found instead was that my true passion is in captioning and working with the D/deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. I’m so grateful to have chosen a profession whose skills can be used in so many different settings. To me, realtime is an art and goes beyond just getting all the words. It’s anticipating where that comma should be placed for best readability; speaker identification; proper capitalization and hyphenation; making sure that specialized terms translate correctly; and correct grammar. I’m continuously competing against myself to produce a better and easier-to-read product.

JCR | What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?
STOKER | My greatest accomplishment stems from my drive to take on work that makes me think: “I can’t do this.” Eventually the fear subsides, and I grow from each challenge. I remember my first remote CART job in 2009. Fight-or-flight kicked in, and my hands were shaking. I had been doing on-site CART for two years prior to that. I got through the job and transitioned to learning about multiple streaming and audio platforms. Soon I was doing multiple remote classes a day, then business and government meetings, TV and broadcast captioning, and branching into the type of all-day, multi-day highly technical conference work I do today. Each well-executed job becomes my new greatest accomplishment. I value and seek out opportunities to challenge myself and grow my skill set.

The many rewards of professional certification

From the desire to get ahead in the profession to just having a passion for learning, professionals offer an array of reasons to earn valuable certifications.

In any field, professional certifications are clear indicators that the people who hold them are committed to their chosen paths and believe that taking the extra time to earn them is worth it. Many professional organizations, from accountants to doctors, offer certifications. Certification gives people seeking specific services a way to recognize that someone meets the standard level of skills for a particular job.

Because of how important certification is to the profession, NCRA has designated May as “Celebrate Certification” Month. We celebrate all NCRA members as they show pride in the certifications they have earned, are working to earn, or are intending to earn. The month-long campaign is also designed to help encourage those who haven’t considered earning one of the Association’s many nationally recognized certifications to rethink their decision.

The campaign also offers members the opportunity to share with their clients and potential customers the reasons why choosing a professional who holds one or more professional certifications helps guarantee the delivery of high quality products and services.

CERTIFICATION SHOWS COMMITMENT

“I think professional certification is important because it shows a commitment to the profession and sets one apart from the ‘average’ reporter,” says Angela M. Mathis, RPR, from Jacksonville, Fla., a 23-year veteran of the business who also provides CART services. She notes that she earned her certification as a way to solidify her commitment to the profession and for personal achievement.

“My certification has helped me earn the respect from fellow reporters and to have preferred job opportunities at the company I work for,” adds Mathis, who is currently working toward earning her Certified Realtime Reporter certification.

Jennifer L. Peirson, RPR, of Eastville, Va., says she earned her RPR straight out of school, taking the WKT while actually still in school. She passed the skills portion about a year after she graduated and says that earning the certification soon after graduation was drilled into her while in school so that she could take advantage of still being used to taking speed tests.

Professional certification not only helps those who hold them to enhance their professional skills and stay ahead of the competition, they also keep professionals current on trends, up-to-date on the latest in technology, and enable movement into other areas of the profession.

CERTIFICATION GETS YOU NOTICED

“As a freelance reporter, I’m not sure that having a certification has actually gotten me a job that I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten, but it has been commented on favorably to me personally by attorneys (that they prefer to use NCRA-certified reporters),” Peirson says, who worked as a freelance court reporter for nearly 15 years before recently making the switch to providing CART. “As a CART captioner, it has gotten me to the higher pay scale for one company I work with, and I know there are companies out there that only use certified captioners,” she adds.

“I had always planned to move to Florida after completing court reporting school in Texas. But once I learned there was no minimum standards set for court reporters in that state, I felt it would be best if I did something to distinguish myself in some way. So the RPR was one of my goals early on as a student,” says Kimberly Xavier, an official court reporter from Arlington, Texas.

After returning to live in Texas, Xavier said she tested for the RPR as a way to practice for the state’s required certified exam. “Once my boss knew I had set that goal, he offered me a cash bonus out of the goodness of his heart if I passed the RPR; and that was the beginning of what would be a continuous journey of test taking and improvement for me,” Xavier says.

Not every employer offers bonuses for earning certifications, but many states require certification to work in the state; and some courthouses offer bonuses for certifications, especially realtime-related ones. In fact, numerous NCRA membership surveys have found that court reporters, captioners, and legal videographers who hold NCRA certifications make more money and are often in higher demand than their competitors. A 2015 survey performed by NCRA showed that 51 percent of the people who earn an RPR are more likely to earn $75,000 annually than those who haven’t earned the RPR, and 81 percent of those who hold the CRR credential are likely to earn at least that much. Earning higher certifications and specialty certifications is highly correlated to increased earning potential.

CERTIFICATION GIVES YOU CONFIDENCE

Professional certification gives you confidence in yourself and encourages a greater peace of mind for the person who holds it and for the organization. Earning a professional certification also offers a personal challenge.

“More than anything, it has increased my confidence in my own abilities, just to know I can provide a stellar service. I was appointed to report a high-profile, change-of-venue case years ago due to my realtime capabilities and having advanced certifications definitely made saying yes a lot easier and stress-free for me,” says Xavier.

“I’m one that does feel that certification is important. I know that’s a hot-button issue with reporters, but I feel it’s important to strive for certifications for myself as well as helping me get my foot in the door with new companies that I want to work with,” says Peirson.

JUST DO IT

Whether you are a student or a working professional, earning a professional certification can be tough. But the advice from those who have earned certifications all agrees: Just do it.

“There is so much self-gratification when you achieve a professional certification. You are not confined to a specific region. You can travel the world and everywhere you go your credentials signify a high level of competence and expectation that you know what you’re doing,” Mathis says.

“If you get knocked down, get up again!” says Peirson. “I recently bombed the CRR which was supposed to be my slam dunk so I’d be more relaxed for the CRC skills test. The second it was over, in my head I screamed, ‘Wait, let me do it again!’ It’s a lot riding on five minutes. I’m still trying to conquer my nerves, but I’ll be back,” she adds.

“I believe professional growth is important,” Xavier says. “In order to stay excited about any career choice, I think you have to have room to grow. Advanced certifications offer court reporters a way to quantify that growth and a way to identify weakness and measure improvement.”

NCRA has made available resources for state associations and individual members to use to help Celebrate Certification Month at NCRA.org/Celebrate. For more information about the campaign, contact pr@ncra.org.