Court Reporters: Job & Career Info

Court reporters work in a court of law by recording the speech and actions of all parties involved in the events. Learn about the education needed to enter the field and what skills are required. Also, learn about other similar career paths, career data and salary information.

Career Definition for a Court Reporter

Transcribing verbatim everything that is said in discussions, discourses and verdicts during legal proceedings using specialized recording equipment is the main responsibility of a court reporter. Court reporting focuses on maintaining comprehensive, precise and protected legal records of courtroom events for the use of everyone involved. By reporting, reading out loud and referencing events for the whole courtroom to hear, court reporters provide important reminders crucial to any case.

Education Associate degree or one- to two-year training program
Job Skills Quick thought processing, good hearing, excellent writing skills
Median Salary (2015)* $49,500
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 2%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Court reporters generally undergo a one- to two-year training program or obtain a two-year associate degree at a vocational school, technical school or college. Coursework typically involves honing the skills required of court reporters, such as shorthand, English, transcription, computer technology and legal terminology. A state license (or credentials similar to one) is necessary for court reporters. Though certifications are not mandatory, a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR), a Registered Merit Reporter (RMR) or a Federal Certified Realtime Reporter (FCRR) certification can assist in obtaining employment.

Required Skills

Excellent hearing and fast thought processing are the two most beneficial skills a court reporter can possess, since he or she is responsible for recording everything done and said in a courtroom. Knowledge of current events, as well as excellent grammar and understanding of shorthand, helps the court reporter in creating accurate logs that can be referenced at later dates.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median yearly salary for court reporters was $49,500 in 2015. Court reporting should expect to see an employment growth of 2% between 2014 and 2024, which is slower than the average rate of all career fields. Court reporting skills may also be utilized outside of courtrooms to transcribe business meetings or develop closed captioning for television programming.

Alternative Career Options

Similar careers in related fields include:

Interpreter and Translator

While court reporters usually have a two-year degree, interpreters and translators often have a bachelor's degree, or they've completed training in a specialized program. A faster-than-average employment growth of 29% was reported by the BLS for the 2014 to 2024 period. The median salary for these workers was $44,190 as of May 2015.

Medical Transcriptionist

Some postsecondary training is needed to work as a medical transcriptionist. According to the BLS, workers in this field are expected to see a 3% decline in job opportunities between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also reported that medical transcriptionists had a median annual income of $34,890 in 2015.

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