Speed and accuracy are essential when it comes to recording court proceedings. You can prepare for a career in this field by completing a certificate or associate's degree, depending on where you wish to work. Many states also require you to become licensed and undertake continuing education.
Court reporters play a vital role in creating verbatim transcripts of legal proceedings, meeting and other activities. Individuals who have strong listening and concentration skills and who enjoy working in a fast-paced legal or business setting may want to consider the field of court reporting. Formal training is required to become a court reporter, usually through a certificate or associate's degree program.
|Required Education||Certificate or associate's degree|
|Licensure or Certification||Required in many states|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||2%|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$49,500|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Definition of a Court Reporter
A court reporter is a trained professional who creates verbatim, or word-for-word, transcriptions of legal proceedings, meetings and events. These individuals use various methods to record information, mainly stenography, electronic reporting and voice writing. Court reporters are responsible for the accuracy of these records. They may also provide real-time translation services to the deaf that may include closed-captioning.
Court reporters must have strong concentration and listening skills, and be comfortable using computer recording technology. They usually work in courtrooms, law offices and other business settings, and sit for long periods of time.
Formal training is necessary to learn about the technology, terminology and requirements needed to become a court reporter. Training programs vary depending on the method of recording chosen. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it typically takes a year to become an entry-level voice writer, while it takes more than two years to become a stenographer (www.bls.gov). Students interested in receiving training may want to seek programs that have been approved by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA).
There are associate's degree programs and certificate programs available for individuals interested in becoming a court reporter. These programs can be found on campus, online and as day or evening classes. Coursework may include shorthand editing and transcription, court-reporting procedures, legal and medical terminology. Students also become proficient in using computer-assisted transcription equipment. An internship may be required.
Licensure and Certification
Licensure and certification requirements vary by state. Some states may require court reporter program graduates to obtain licensure or a certification. States using the voice-writing method of court reporting offer three methods of national certification through the National Verbatim Reporters Association: the Certificate of Merit, the Certified Verbatim Reporter or the Real-Time Verbatim Reporter.
Continuing education is required to maintain certification. Some states may require court reporters to serve as a notary public. Additionally, they may be required to take a state test for certification.
Career and Salary Information
The BLS predicted that court reporters will see growth in employment opportunities of 2 percent between 2014 and 2024. The annual median wage for court reporters in May 2015 was $49,500, according to the BLS. Wages varied by level of certification, job location and whether the court reporter work was employed full-time or worked freelance.
To succeed as a court reporter, you'll need technological savvy and a high degree of focus and concentration. Training can last two years or more, and involves mastery of very specific skills such as stenography and transcription. Work in this field is mainly in the courtroom, although you might also be employed by a law firm or other business.