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court reporter

Job Spotlight - Court Reporter

If you have an interest in law or working in the criminal justice field, you may consider a future as a Court Reporter. If you have no idea what this job is or maybe you are looking for more information about this legal position, you found the right page.  We aim to help you find out nearly everything you wanted to know about Court Reporting.
 

Quick Facts: Court Reporters
2015 Median Pay (Annual) $49,500
2015 Median Pay (Hourly) $23.80
Entry Level Education Post-secondary certificate
Recommended Education Post-secondary education (certificate or degree)
2014-2024 Projected Outlook 2% growth (slower than average)
2014 Number of Jobs 20,800
2014-2024 Estimated Employment Gains 300

Resource: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Court Reporter FAQs

Below you will find the answers to the most-frequently-asked questions when it comes to working as a Court Reporter. We want to provide you with in-depth analysis of this specific job and how you can get the education necessary to start working in this growing field. Rest assured, we are giving you the straight facts about what it takes to become a Court Stenographer. If you have any questions that we have not covered on this FAQ page, please contact us.

What is Court Reporting?

A Court Reporter is responsible for creating the official transcripts of legal proceedings, depositions and other occasions that require a verbatim record of events. They are a critical team member in legal proceedings and their transcribed documents are irreplaceable for helping settle disputes and creating laws or legal decisions. It is important that Court Reporting is both accurate and fast with some rates being as high as 225 words per minute.

Court Reporters record these events and procedures by various means to be able to accurately get the word-for-word transcription correct. The common types of equipment used in Court Reporting include steno type machines, digital or analog recordings, video recordings, short-hand notes or by repeating all the information through a special mask with a microphone called a voice silencer.

Other names or titles for the Court Report position include:

  • Court Stenographer
  • Steno type Operator
  • Shorthand Reporter
  • Legal Transcription
  • Law Reporter
  • Stenocaptioners

How Can I Start Working as a Court Reporter?

Quick Info: A Job as a Court Reporter
Pick your specific job
Pick between the following types of court reporting jobs
• Electronic reporting
• Voice writing
• Stenographic
• Real-time court reporting
Education
• Enroll in an accredited court reporting program
• Courses are held at community colleges and trade schools
• Practice on steno machine to build up speed
Get licensed
• Contact state court reporter association
• Sign up for the next exam
• Exam is 100 questions and demonstration of typing skills of 225 wpm
• Earn your Registered Professional Reporter license
• Take at least the minimum of continuing education hours to keep license valid

If you are serious about working as a Court Reporter then you will want to know the steps you most likely will have to go through to make this your new vocation. While the steps we are about to list do not look that difficult, you should know before going in that programs for Stenograph Operators can be difficult if you do not put your heart and soul in to it. You will need to be on your “A” game in order get through the program but the end results are well worth it.

Personality and Character Traits

One of the first things to consider when thinking about attending a program to work as a Court Stenographer is if you have the right personal and character traits. You will need to answer honestly to the following questions that will help you better gauge if you have the right traits to do the job.

  • Are you able to concentrate for long periods of time?
  • Are you a detail oriented person?
  • Do you have good listening skills?
  • Do you have a good command of grammar, punctuation and vocabulary?
  • Do you easily get stressed out?
  • Are you a confident person in front of others?
  • Are you punctual?
  • Are you comfortable wearing professional clothes?
What Are Your Goals?

Before you enroll in any of the Court Reporter training programs you will need to decide what exactly you want to do in this field. There are three methods in Court Reporting that you can choose from. The amount of time school for any of these positions is dependent on the job itself as well as the requirements mandated by the state you live or work in. The methods are:

  • Electronic Reporting

Electronic reporting uses digital or analog recordings to create an accurate written transcript of the court proceedings. The Court Reporter is in charge of both the recording of the proceedings and the transcription of the tapes. This form of court reporting can be learned on the job and is considered an entry-level position.

  • Voice Writing

The Court Reporter uses a hand-held mask that contains a microphone called a “voice silencer” to repeat the testimony while verbalizing any gestures or emotional reactions. Training for this type to become a voice writer takes anywhere from nine to 13 months.

  • Stenographic

The Stenographer is one of the most common methods of court reporting. If you have ever seen a movie or television show with a courtroom scene, you probably have noticed a Stenographer who is typing furiously in to a stenotype machine. Typically, Stenotype Operators earn their two-year associate degree from a vocational or technical school or a community college.

  • Real-Time Court Reporting

Much like the Steno Type Operator, a Real-Time Court Reporter uses a steno type machine. The difference between these two positions is that the text is instantly displays the text on a screen for a Real-Time Court Reporter. This method is used in courts, meetings, closed-caption television and in meetings. The average amount of training for one of these positions is 33 months, depending on how quick a person can pick up the skills to do the job.

Education

The next step will involve you finding an accredited Court Reporting program held at a community college, technical/vocational school, or college or university. This is where you will learn how to use the equipment such as the voice silencer, steno type machine, recording devices along with the software and computers as needed. Part of the program will focus on the student gaining a strong understanding of legal terminology and court proceedings.

Coursework is split between the classroom and an internship. This split-format will make easier to adjust to the style and technical aspects of the job. You will also need to practice outside of class so that you can build up your speed on the steno type machine. You will find that most instructors suggest at least 2 hours if not 3 hours a day of practice so you can hit the minimum requirement of 225 words a minute.

Licensing

Depending on the state you live in, you may have to become licensed to work as a Court Reporter. Licensing requirements can vary from state to state so it is best if you contact your local state association or check out their website for specific licensing requirements.

If you live in a state that requires licensing, more than likely it will be the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) exam. These exams are given out twice a year. You will need to pass both the 100 question written test and then prove that you are able to type 225 words per minute in three passes.

It should be mentioned that some states do require Court Reporters to become a notary public. This information should be available to you from your state’s Court Reporter Association.

Take notice that as a Court Reporter you will have to complete a state specified number of continuing education hours to keep your license active. These CE programs will keep you up to date with the latest breakthroughs and procedures for Court Reporting and may even provide extra certification.

Where Can I Find Legal Transcription Schools?

You will find that a wide variety of technical or vocational schools as well as community colleges, universities and colleges have Court Reporting programs. There are currently over 120 schools that offer Court Reporter programs in the United States. One of the easiest ways to locate a program is by searching on the internet using the keywords “Court Reporter School”. Another way is by looking at the list of programs certified by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA).

The importance of attending an accredited program cannot be understated. Accreditation means that the school meets the basic requirements for education in this field. Plus, you will find that a growing number of employers including the federal government may require graduation from an accredited school. You will want to make sure that the program has been accredited by either the NCRA or the National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA).

Enrollment

The school of your choosing may have certain prerequisites that must be met before enrollment. Normally, you must be at least 18 years old but other possible requirements may include:

Are There Any Court Reporting Online Programs?

If you happen to live in an area where you can find an accredited Court Reporter program or if your schedule is too hectic to be able to attend a campus style school, you may opt for online courses. There are a number of online Court Reporter programs to choose from including from some of the most recognized names in education.

Online programs have become increasingly more popular over the past few years and in some ways it has become the new normal. One of the best advantages of taking online courses is that you have a very flexible schedule to be able to take your classes. You can study late at night when the family goes to bed or after working at your job or whenever as long as you have access to the internet.

Some words of advice before you enroll. Make sure that the program you are signing up for as been accredited by either the NCRA or the NVRA and it is more than just learning stenography. You will need a well-rounded education including classes in law and court procedure.

How Long Does a Court Stenographer Program Take?

As previously mentioned above, Court Reporter programs can take anywhere from nine months to 33 months or even longer. The length of time really depends on what your ambition and aspiration is with this particular vocation.

Our suggestion is that if possible you at least earn an associate degree which takes about two years. Showing a dedication to learning can be very beneficial to you when it comes to looking for a job. Holding an associate degree may give you an advantage over some of your competitors as well as it may offer you the opportunity for advancement and higher salary.

What is a Court Reporter Job Description?

The basic job description of a Court Reporter is to provide written transcripts of legal proceedings and other important events for record keeping. This can be done through steno type machine or sometimes audio recording devices. Other typical duties associated with the job of the Court Stenographer include:

  • Review transcripts ensuring accuracy against original records
  • Edit transcripts for grammatical and typographical errors
  • Deliver transcripts of court cases to the clerk’s office
  • Be able to read back the verbatim records if necessary
  • Uphold court regulations and legal standards of confidential records
  • Request individuals to clarify inaudible statements
  • Provide copies of transcripts to judges, lawyers, jury or the public
  • Document depositions and other meetings for attorneys
  • Record speaker’s name along with any gestures or actions during proceedings
  • Be available for hearings, legal proceedings, meetings, depositions or any other event that requires a written transcript
  • Have the ability to record proceedings with specialized equipment such as steno type machine and audio or video devices
  • Form and be able to maintain a working and professional relationship with others including supervisors, judicial officers, coworkers, attorneys and the public
  • Have the ability to remain seated and concentrate for long periods of time
  • Consistently operate a stenographic machine at 200 words per minute
  • Become familiar with the names of those present and any technical terminology used in proceedings
  • Keep organized files of shorthand notes
  • Effective communication both orally and written in the English language
  • Working independently in a legal setting by organizing and setting specific priorities
  • Meeting deadlines while still maintaining speed and accuracy

What is the Annual Median Legal Transcriptionist Salary?

You may be surprised to learn that the Court Reporter position ranks among the highest paid salaries for jobs not requiring at least a four-year degree. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the annual median salary at $49,500 as of May 2015, the last reporting date for this data. The lowest 10 percent earned around $25,000 while the highest was over $90,000 a year. One’s actual pay may be slightly different depending on location and what type of company, agency or system they are employed.

court reporter salary

As with other jobs in the legal profession, Court Stenographers normally have above average benefits packages such as insurance, vacation time, 401K, etc. They may also be eligible to work overtime. Some Court Reporters also do freelance work or selling their transcripts by the page to earn extra pay which can dramatically increase their base pay.

What is the Job Outlook for Court Stenography?

The outlook for Court Reporters remains strong for at least the next decade. The projected growth of new jobs is expected to rise 4% to 10% over the current number of jobs through 2024. This percentage may rise according to the continued improvement of the national economy as well as other potential related positions. This includes up and coming jobs as broadcast captioners who provide closed captions for television programs and events as well as communication access real-time translation (CART) providers who can work with deaf or hard of hearing people at meetings and events.

Court Reporter Estimated Job Growth

How Important is Court Reporter Certification?

Quick Info: Types of Certifications for a Court Reporter
Some of the certifications include:
• Certified Verbatim Reporter (CVR)
• Certificate of Merit (CM) for non-NCRA members
• Real-Time Verbatim Reporter (RVR)
• Registered Merit Reporter (RMR)
• Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR)
• Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR)
• Certified Broadcast Captioner (CBC)
• Certified CART Provider (CCP)
• Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS)
• Certified Reporting Instructor (CRI)
• Master Certified Reporting Instructor (MCRI)
• Certified Program Evaluator (CPE)
• Federal Certified Realitime Reporter (FCRR)
• Certified Electronic Court Reporter (CER)
• Certified Electronic Transcriber (CET)
• Certified Electronic Court Reporter and Transcriber (CERT)

You will find that most certifications for a Court Reporter are voluntary but can be extremely beneficial. This is true for those looking for bigger or better opportunities such as a new job, promotions or even monetary gains. Each certification is earned by showing the testing board that you have the expertise in a specific area. Who doesn’t want to be recognized for being good at something? So in other words, if you want to possibly advance, make more cash or get an even better job, then certifications are one of the better ways to help make this happen.

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