Court Recorder: Job Duties & Career Information

Court recorders, also known as court reporters, use stenographic machines, voice writing, or electronic and audio equipment to transcribe speech into written word, working in courtrooms, business environments, or the communications industry. Read on to learn about the education, salary and employment outlook pertaining to this career.

Career Definition for Court Recorders

A court recorder, also known as a court reporter, transcribes speech into written form. Court recorders can work in courtrooms, but many court recorders also work for businesses, government agencies, and broadcasting conglomerates. Their services can be seen in sales meetings or on television captions for the hearing impaired. Court recorders transcribe using stenographic machines, voice writing mechanisms, or electronic and audio hardware. Stenotype machines are similar to typewriters and are utilized for real time transcription.

When using voice writing machines, the court recorder speaks into a microphone and transcribes the recording later. Electronic recording devices utilize speech recognition technology for immediate transcription. In addition to documenting words, court recorders are responsible for editing their transcriptions and storing their data. To ensure accurate transcriptions, they must also create and maintain computerized dictionaries that correspond to their reporting devices.

Education High school diploma or GED; certificates, associate's degrees, and bachelor's degrees are available and can improve job opportunities
Job Skills Computer literacy, minimum typing speed of 225 wpm, listening skills, understanding of legal vocabulary and procedures, grammar and spelling proficiency
Median Salary (2015)* $49,500 (for all court reporters)
Career Outlook (2014-2024)* 2% (for all court reporters)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

A court recorder must have a high school diploma or GED. Many postsecondary schools offer court reporting certificates, associate's degrees, or bachelor's degrees in court reporting. Additionally, some states require that a court recorder take a professional exam to be certified. A court recorder can also take additional exams to obtain higher certifications to prove above-average competencies or to qualify for teaching, managing or consulting positions.

Skills Required

Court recorders must have exceptional listening skills and sharp hearing. They must work quickly with minimal errors and have exceptional spelling and grammar skills. Additionally, court recorders should keep abreast of current events and, if they work in a courtroom, be aware of legal vocabulary and procedures. Computer literacy is also a necessity. The federal government requires that stenographers type 225 words per minute.

Career and Economic Outlook

In May 2015, the median annual salary for a court reporter was $49,500, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The majority of court recording jobs are found in local government, state government, and business support services, which offer a combined total of more than 20,800 jobs. Employment in the court recording realm is expected to increase at an average rate of 2% from 2014 through 2024. Individuals with certifications and the ability to branch outside the courtroom will have the best opportunities for employment.

Alternate Career Options

Similar jobs related to court recorders may include:

Interpreter and Translator

Often having a bachelor's degree, an essential requirement for these professionals who convert written, spoken or signed information from one language to another, is fluency in at least two languages. The BLS projected a much faster than average increase in interpreter and translator positions from 2014-2024 of 29%. In 2015, the BLS reported an annual median wage of $44,190 for these workers.

Medical Transcriptionist

Many of these transcriptionists, who convert voice recordings of doctors and other healthcare providers to a written format, complete 1- to 2-year postsecondary training programs in medical transcription. Expected decline in these jobs was at 3%, from 2014-2024. The median annual wage for medical transcriptionists in 2015 was $34,890, according to the BLS.

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