July 26, 2011


Last week at our school, Downey Adult School in Southern California, we had the pleasure of hearing a guest speaker from Total Recall, a CART providing company  located in Agoura Hills.  President of Total Recall, Sandy Eisenberg, could not make it because of health issues, so one of her CART providers, Susanne Watson, spoke to us instead.  Here are the bullet points of her convo with us steno students... all GREAT STUFF!

  • You do NOT need to be licensed to work as a CART provider.
  • CART providers earn $35+ an hour (to START!!!) depending on their skill level and certifications/licenses.  The more certifications/licenses you hold, the better.
  • Court reporting students in the 180/200 WPM range who are writing realtime are ENCOURAGED to work as CART providers while still going to school.  To do is a great way to build your speed and stamina... and you're getting paid in the meantime!
  • Don't be scared to jump into the working field.  Most of us have been in court reporting school for so long that we are deathly afraid of anything else.  Do NOT be like that!  Bite the bullet and JUST DO IT!
  • When you work as a CART provider, you arrive early to set up, write realtime for your client (who is deaf or hard-of-hearing) on your laptop, then email your notes to your client at the end of the day.  There is NO transcript to worry about.  However, you are CONSTANTLY working and building up your dictionary... as official reporters, freelance reporters, and broadcast captioners should do as well.  Students too!  We are ALWAYS working on our dictionaries.
  • Susanne has worked in various colleges as a CART provider such as UCLA, FIDM, Loyola Marymount, Santa Monica Community College, Pacific Palisades High School, and at several meetings and conventions.
  • You start off slowly in the CART world, but as you network, take more jobs, and/or more clients specifically request that you work for them, you can easily work more hours in each subsequent year.  
  • The summer times are usually slower since not many deaf/hard-of hearing students take summer classes.  However, during all other seasons there are plenty of day as well as night classes for CART jobs.  There are numerous CART jobs in both Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
  • Some jobs will pay you for prep work, which could be $200 in addition to your regular pay.  If not, you do your prep work at home before you go on the job.  Prep work consists of entering words/phrases into your dictionary for that specific job (which usually is a class).
  • You can make $750 in 1 day because you'll be going to 4-5 different jobs all over the area.  But this 1 day could take care of your whole week! :) It all depends on how much YOU want to work/earn.  
  • Some CART providers can work part-time hours and make $6K a month!  Again, how much you earn is dependent on your skills, certifications/licenses, and the amount of jobs you take.
  • Usually there are no health insurance/retirement benefits when you work as a CART provider because you are an independent contractor.  You provide your own steno machine, laptop, and skill set (180+ WPM).  There are some agencies, however, that will hire you as an employee.  If so, you work out your benefits with your agency and would be paid on an hourly or salary basis as opposed to a fee per job if you're an independent contractor.
  • If you want to get into the CART, broadcast captioning, or want to write realtime, practice to the news on TV.  News anchors talk clearly yet quickly!  Great practice for speedbuilding too!  And it's FREE!
  • It's best to do everything wireless.  Susanne is going to buy a wireless steno writer soon.  Being wireless makes it much easier to navigate in your classrooms/meeting areas as you work as a CART provider.
  • Susanne is currently not a certified court reporter or CART provider, but will take the CCP (Certified CART provider) exam given by NCRA (National Court Reporters Association) soon.  The exam is 180 WPM literary for 5 minutes which you must pass realtime with a 96% accuracy rate.
  • A lot of the briefs you use in school do not apply in the real world, especially in CART since you're doing various classes.  Therefore, she doesn't brief too much and just keeps up with the speaker(s).
  • If the job is more than 3 hours long, 2 CART providers are required to be at that job (they will alternate).  However, you do NOT split the cost between you two.  
  • Meetings start charging at $80 per hour with a minimum of 3 hours.
  • You can charge $100 per job if they ask to use your projector.  You can buy a good projector for $300, and if clients use it at least 3x, then you've made back all your money.  Projectors, extra monitors, and other backup equipment are all good investments for independent CART providers.
  • Susanne went to Bryan College for 1 year for Theory, then went online for the rest of her steno education.  She converted her garage to function as her office and built up her speed completely by going online.  Therefore, it IS possible to complete your court reporting journey remotely.  You do NOT need to go to a brick-and-mortar school if it is not possible for you because of distance, cost, and/or time.  If you're dedicated enough and have that quiet space somewhere in your home, then it is VERY DOABLE!
  • Susanne LOVES her job as a CART provider!  She cannot picture herself working in depos
  • If you're a student writing realtime in the 180/200 WPM, you are READY to become a working CART provider.  Don't wait!  Jump in!  Don't be afraid!  The market needs you!  And there's GREAT MONEY to be earned AS WELL AS the awesome opportunity to serve the deaf/hard-of-hearing community with your steno skills!
Lastly, here is the flyer that Total Recall gave us court reporting students.  EXCITING!!!


Anonymous said...

Please keep in mind that consumers who rely on CART are expecting and deserve a verbatim translation without untranslates, conflicts, unreadable text. No student at 180 is ready to do CART in an appropriate, acceptable, ethical way! This cheapens the pay structure for all of us who work so hard to do the job the right way. Stay in school and get certified. No one should practice building their dictionaries on students who rely on you for their well-being in educational setting. This is BS...company wants to make $ off your lack of skills by ndercutting "true" CART providers.

jandriene said...

I completely concur with the above comment! Please don't ruin the pay structure and reputation of all of us hard-working, licensed reporters who have put in YEARS of effort to produce quality realtime. It is unfair to the students and enables companies such as C-Print and Type-Well to move in with a better product than a steno with lousy realtime and lousy dictionary.
This pisses me off! These students are paying top dollar for school and realtime. There is NO WAY a student at 180 can provide quality...impossible.

KayJay said...

I agree with the comments above. Lots of useful info here, but the integrity of the industry is in danger when bargain basement skills and prices are encouraged. We've worked way too hard just to have our profession cheapened by this kind of practice.

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