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This 42 Years Old Mom Earn Over $200,000 Without a Bachelor’s Degree

42 years old mom earn over $200,000 without a bachelor’s degree and she has shared her tips. Success for Cynthia Rodriguez is measured by her word-per-minute typing speed rather than by a promotion or the number of zeroes on her paycheck.

She is currently at 250.

Cynthia Rodriguez
Cynthia Rodriguez

Rodriguez, a court reporter from Bakersfield, California, is 42 years old. She spends her mornings and afternoons attending a variety of court cases, from high-profile murder trials to neighbor disputes over street art, and stenotype machines, portable word processors with specially designed keyboards that enable shorthand typing, are used to record everything that is said.

The U.S. legal system depends heavily on court reporters, often known as “guardians of the record,” to ensure that every court proceeding is fairly and accurately recorded. The Association for Court Reporters and Captioners estimates that there is currently a countrywide shortage of at least 5,000 reporters as a result of the decline in interest in the field in recent years.

Irene Nakamura, Rodriguez’s mentor and a court reporter in California for more than 30 years, claims that court reporting nevertheless checks many boxes on job applicants’ wish lists.

Court reporter
Court reporter

Court reporting doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree, the hours are flexible, it can be done from a distance, and, according to Nakamura, good reporters can earn up to $100,000 per year and up to $200 for a half-day of work.

According to the tax records examined, Rodriguez earned around $235,315 in 2022 working as a self-employed court reporter. According to Rodriguez, what began as a job to help her make ends meet has grown into a two-decade career that has given her meaning and financial independence.

Also Read: College Dropout Sold his First Company for Six Figures at 21. Read his Recipe for Success

Becoming a Court Reporter

Rodriguez had always wanted to work in the legal field, but the cost of attending college and law school was too much for her.

She worked briefly as a waitress at the café of a nearby golf course in Delano, California, after graduating from high school in 1998, but she later described the position as “unfulfilling” and with a low pay.

At age 21, she was a freshly divorced, single mother of three. Rodriguez recounts that while going to college seemed like a “impossible mission,” she was determined to find a career she enjoyed that would provide her family with a decent living.

She re-upped residence with her parents in Bakersfield and scheduled a meeting with a career advisor there, who recommended she sign up for their court reporting course. Rodriguez wondered, “Why not?” as she became excited about the prospect of working in the courtrooms she watched on “Law & Order.”

“I knew I wanted to be a part of something that made a positive difference in people’s lives and helped solve some of society’s more complicated problems,” she said. “So, I just went for it … and I’m so glad I did, because the minute my fingers touched the steno machine, I was hooked.”

In order to become a qualified reporter, Rodriguez had to finish a number of courses, including ones on business law basics, courtroom ethics, and the language of shorthand, an abridged form of symbolic writing. These courses took Rodriguez around three years to complete.

State-specific education requirements vary, but in general you need to have a high school diploma or equivalent and complete a court reporting program that has been approved by the National Court Reporters Association. These programs can lead to an associate’s degree or a professional certificate. In order to be certified, court reporters must also pass a test that has been approved by the state.

There were times when Rodriguez considered giving up because of her sluggish typing or difficult homework assignments, but her parents urged her to finish the course.

“My dad reminded me over and over that I could do it, I was capable of being a great court reporter and that made me believe in myself,” she says. “I had an incredible support system at home, my sister and my parents took turns watching my kids while I was at class, they were my biggest cheerleaders and gave me the foundation I needed to be successful at this.”

Building a Six-figure Career in the Courtroom

Rodriguez was suggested for a job at the Kern County Superior Court after passing her exam by a buddy from her court reporting school, where she would work for the following 17 years.

Her annual pay was $60,000 when she began the job in 2005. However, she claims that within two years, she increased that amount to around $100,000, largely as a result of putting in more hours and taking on more tasks, such as providing simultaneous captions for hard-of-hearing individuals at depositions and business meetings.

42 Years Old Mom Earn Over
Court reporter

According to Rodriguez, reporting for the court is a full-time work that requires a minimum of 40 hours per week, although there are also occasional and part-time jobs that reporters can accept.

“Court reporting can be a very demanding career, but the great thing about it is that you can work as much or as little as you want,” Rodriguez explained. “I like to challenge myself with difficult cases and assignments, so I typically work 10 or 11 hours on weekdays, sometimes on weekends, too.”

In addition to their base salary, court reporters are compensated on a per-page basis for transcripts they produce during court proceedings, according to Nakamura. She estimates that this additional income can range from $50,000 to $100,000.

‘Every day I wake up and I love what I do’

Rodriguez made the decision to leave her employment and work as a freelance court reporter last year so she could set her own hours and fees. She connected with Nakamura on Instagram in the spring of 2022 and started working as a contract employee for her court reporting company, IDepo Reporters.

Rodriguez still works 10-hour shifts, but her weekend work has been reduced, and she may now choose projects that only require her three or four days a week or ones with later morning start times.

No matter how dramatic or tragic a trial is, Rodriguez has found that the most challenging aspect of her job—which she has done for nearly 20 years—is to maintain composure.

“You’re sitting inches away from people accused of murder, abuse, these very awful, disgusting crimes,” she says. “It can be incredibly heavy, and in moments like that, I’ll just try to find a focal point I can concentrate on instead, like a beautiful palm tree outside the window.”

It also aids Rodriguez in keeping in mind the significance of her work for those seeking and delivering justice.. “Jurors, lawyers, judges, all of the key players in that courtroom rely on your writing to make a fair decision,” she says.

“Every day I wake up and I love what I do,” says Rodriguez. “What more could you want from a job?” She is currently pursuing certification as a court reporter in Hawaii so she can divide her time between that state and California. She has aspirations of one day starting her own court reporting business.



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