“When I heard an ad on the radio that SMC was starting a court reporting program I immediately knew that, if I were going to do it, this would be the place.”
When he hit his mid-thirties, Jon Roe decided he had to get serious about getting a well-paying career going. He had just married, and since his acting career had not led to movie star fame, training as a court reporter looked to be a promising alternative.
“The ad talked about making good money and not necessarily working 40 hours a week,” Jon explains. Court reporters are in high demand with starting salaries of around $45,000 for the L.A. court system, or up to $30,000 at agencies that send out court reporters on assignments. “The best thing about this career is that you can practice it in any city,” says Jon who hopes to move back East, where both he and his wife are from.
Training as a court reporter is very demanding. The letters don’t correspond to the 26-letter alphabet and the theories behind shorthand and phonetics have to be learned first. And then it is practice, practice and practice. “It’s a matter of remembering the theory of the letters and combining them into words and then building speed,” Jon says in describing the process. “You start out at 40 words per minute. To pass the court reporter exam you need about 225 words per minute.”
His new career has not kept John away from acting. On the contrary, a recent stint as a court reporter on the soap opera “Days of Our Lives” allowed him to combine his two talents. And he hopes for more such roles in the future.
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