Your Money
More surprising 6-figure jobs
This week, we look at (unsuper) models, (court) reporters and captioners.
January 9, 2004: 9:14 AM EST
By Jeanne Sahadi, CNN/Money Senior Writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - If you're asked who earns a six-figure income, you're likely to come up with a list of doctors, lawyers, corporate executives and high-powered sales people.

Hotel managers, makeup artists, senior VP of communications and more ...
Salary wizard

But there are plenty of other, less predictable occupations that can command big paychecks.

Due to overwhelming reader response to our recent story, "Who gets paid six figures?", CNN/Money will regularly profile six-figure jobs that may not make the list of usual suspects.

Keep in mind, not everyone in these occupations makes $100,000 or more, but the most skilled and experienced can.

Remember, too, if they are freelancers some of their six figures must be used to pay for taxes, insurance, retirement savings and business-related expenses, which may include commissions to an agency that sent a job their way.

This week, we take a look at fitting models, court reporters and broadcast captioners.

Fitting model: If you're someone who's a perfect size fill-in-the-blank and has dimensions that match fashion industry standards -- "plus," "petite" and "big and tall" sizes included -- you may find work as a fitting model with a clothing company or clothes designer.

The job involves modeling outfits in a manufacturer's showroom and letting the designers, clothes makers and buyers know what works and what doesn't about an outfit, for example, how it falls and how it feels, said Darryl Roberrts, men's director for modeling agency The Lyons Group.

The most successful fitting models who make six figures know how clothes are made, know how different fabrics behave, and are very knowledgeable about the line they're modeling. In fact, many have degrees in pattern-making, said Susan Levine, owner of Model Service Agency, LLC.


"The model is the one that gives (designers and seamstresses) the direction of how to make the garment," Levine said. "The model can make or break your sales."

While you don't need perfect cheekbones or the face of Catherine Deneuve, you do have to be attractive and clean-looking. "You need to project a certain image," Levine said.

And there is one requirement that can be very tough to meet: "You have to maintain your size at all times," Roberrts noted.

A successful fitting model can earn between $750 and $1,500 a day, Roberrts noted. On an hourly basis, you might earn between $200 and $275, Levine said. And you might work three-to-five days a week, for between five and eight hours a day.

Court reporters: Ever been a juror in deliberations or been present at a deposition and heard testimony read back?

Well, those words came to you courtesy of a court reporter, whose job is to capture live speech and then transcribe it to the written word.

About a third of court reporters work full-time for a court (receiving a salary and benefits), and two-thirds are freelancers who are hired by lawyers to take pre-trial depositions.

In both cases, the court reporters are paid for the time they spend taking down testimony and then for the transcripts they create, which may be purchased by each party in a case.

Rates for freelancers vary widely, but the pay for official court reporters is a matter of public record. On the high end, experienced court reporters can earn up to $88,171 working for the New York State Supreme Court, according to one survey. On top of that, they can earn more for the transcripts they create, which can bring their earnings above $100,000.

The transcript rate in New York ranges between $2.50 and $4.30 a page for ordinary turnaround and $3.75 and $6.50 per page for daily delivery.

Six hours of testimony works out to about 250 pages, said Laurel Eiler, the immediate past president of the National Court Reporters Association.

In terms of training, you'll need between two and four years of education at a court reporter school. And the more certifications you can earn thereafter (there are 10 listed on NCRA's Web site), the more desirable you'll be for hire, said Eiler, who has worked as a freelance court reporter for 18 years and now runs an agency for court reporters in Nashville, Tenn.

Court reporters have to be very proficient with the computer technologies of their trade, have strong English skills, and a strong vocabulary in the areas they're working in. They must be able to concentrate for long periods of time and meet very tight deadlines.

In addition to the hours spent taking down testimony and creating a written transcript, court reporters must spend prep time programming their software and equipment so that they're prepared to handle the terminology specific to an upcoming case, which in many instances can be highly technical.

Broadcast captioners: Those real-time captions you see on the screen of live television programs, such as a news shows, are provided by broadcast captioners.

Most typically, they might earn $50-to-$100 for every programming hour they caption and they work for companies hired by networks to provide the captioning, said Kathy DiLorenzo, director of reporter and captioner relations at VITAC, a captioning company.

Six-figure jobs
Getting a job

Top captioners at VITAC earn between $60,000 and $120,000 a year with benefits, DiLorenzo said.

But to make that $120,000 a year, an employee might caption 30-to-40 hours of programs a week, which does not include the preparation time they need to make sure their software and equipment are ready to handle the content of a broadcast.

As with court reporters, the ability to concentrate and the need for physical stamina is key to provide real-time captions for that many hours of live television.

Unlike court reporters, though, captioners don't need to be on-site if they have the proper equipment at home, which is necessary if you're an independent contractor. If you do work independently, you'll probably need to invest about $18,000 to get the right computers and software, DiLorenzo said.

Typically, people wishing to become broadcast captioners will need at least three years of full-time education, unless they're already court reporters, in which case they might need a year of retraining, DiLorenzo said.  Top of page

Why perks aren't the answer to retention problems
Why are women only saving half as much as men for retirement?
Looking for a home in Berlin or Budapest? Prepare to pay more
Facebook's rhetoric on misinformation doesn't match its actions
The classic car industry could be hurt by tariffs, too
Trump escalates his war with the Fed

graphic graphic