Court reporters are stenographers who are transcribe proceedings word-for-word using a stenograph machine.
They mainly find employment with private law firms, court systems, non-profit organizations, and trade associations. The duties depend on the employer and may include:
- Attending depositions, hearings, and other events that require written transcripts
- Recording dialogue with equipment in addition to their stenograph machine such as audio recording devices and covered microphones
- Reading or playing back part of the proceedings upon request from the judge
- Asking speakers to repeat inaudible statements
- Editing transcripts for grammar and spelling errors
- Researching and fact-checking names
- Maintaining accurate records and reports as determined by law and court policy
- Providing final transcripts to all involved parties
- Transcribing movie dialogue and television programs onto screens
- Providing real-time translation during classes so deaf or hard-of-hearing students can understand the teacher
What Traits Make for a Good Court Reporter?
Attention to Detail – Court reporters must ensure accuracy while recording and formatting transcripts, which requires those who work in the profession to be detail oriented.
Self-motivation – Mastering court reporting isn’t easy, so it’s important to stay motivated throughout the difficult training process. Especially when trying to achieve typing at least 225 words per minute.
Time Management – Court reporters must meet strict transcript delivery deadlines, therefore, they need to have excellent time management skills in order to meet the deadlines as well as complete the other daily duties their job requires.
Court reporters can earn a certificate, Associate of Applied Science degree, or a Bachelor of Applied Science degree. Programs are found at community colleges, universities, and vocational schools, and the curriculum will vary by program and whether you want to earn a certificate or degree. Courses may include Court Procedures, Foundation of Law, Introduction to Real-time Technology, Legal Terminology, Medical Terminology, Machine Shorthand, and Transcription.
Questions to Ask Before Enrolling in School
Not all court reporting programs are the same, so it’s important to ask questions before enrolling in school.
- What is the length of the program?
- What are the class sizes?
- What credentials and court reporting experience do the teachers have?
- What are the school’s graduation requirements?
- What are the entrance requirements?
- What percentage of students who enroll graduate?
- What is the success rate of the graduates?
- What type of court reporting jobs do graduates from your program find?
- Do I need to purchase or rent or a stenotype machine?
Only court reporters who work in states that require licensure need certification, however, it’s in your best interest to sit for the exam even if it is not necessary. You will have better marketability when it comes to finding a job as well as a higher salary. The most standard credential is the Registered Professional Reporter offered by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). They also offer the following certifications:
- Certified Broadcast Captioner
- Certified CART Provider
- Certified Legal Video Specialist
- Certified Manager of Reporting Services
- Certified Realtime Reporter
- Certified Reporting Instructor
- Master Certified Reporting Instructor
- Master Certified Reporting Instructor
- Registered Diplomate Reporter
- Registered Merit Reporter
- Registered Professional Reporter
Job Outlook and Salary
The job outlook is favorable and the two main reasons court reporters continue to be in demand are:
- The court system still requires accurate transcripts of depositions, pretrial hearings, and proceedings
- The rapidly growing need to create captions for live television broadcasts that allow those that are deaf or hard-of-hearing to enjoy a wide array of shows
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, court reporters earned a median average salary of $55,000 in 2014. Your salary will be determined by location, employer, level of education, and certification.
To learn more about the field of court reporting, please contact us.