Postsecondary training programs for court transcription, including certificate programs and associate's degrees, prepare individuals to type information from legal proceedings. To become a court transcriptionist, one must have a high school diploma and attend a postsecondary training program. Court reporters are usually taught to use stenotype machines or voice recorders; possible concentrations include stenography, electronic reporting or real-time voice writing.
Those who complete a training program accredited by the National Court Reporters Association will have learned to capture at least 225 words per minute, which is a requirement for federal employment. Court transcriptionists must have above-average listening and grammar skills, and they should also be able to work efficiently under time constraints.
Some training programs are hour-based as opposed to credit-based, and students advance only after they've acquired a particular skill set. Consequently, students may take up to three years to complete training. Some institutions do offer online transcription programs.
Certificate in Court Reporting
At the certificate level, aspiring court transcriptionists study grammar and composition. They gain a foundation in business law, as well as medical and legal terms. These programs have course topics that include:
- Computer-aided transcription
- Machine shorthand
- Vocabulary development
- Intro to real-time reporting
- Legal terminology
- Intro to computers
Associate of Applied Science Degree in Court Reporting
Students enrolled in a court reporting associate degree program learn to document court proceedings, medical dictation and legal depositions using real-time and machine transcription technologies. They learn about courtroom procedures and relevant terminology. They also take word processing and keyboarding classes to build typing speed and accuracy. Some course topics might include:
- Reporting technology
- Principles of speech
- Medical terminology
- Court reporting English
- Reporting procedures
- General psychology
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Court reporters as of May 2015 make a median annual wage of $49,500, according to the BLS. The employment for this career from 2014-2024 is expected to grow 2%, which is slower than the average.
Licenses and Certifications
In some states, licensure is required to work as a court transcriptionist. To qualify, court reporters must pass an exam. Additionally, some states require court transcriptionists to be notaries.
Depending on a court transcriptionist's area of specialty, voluntary certifications are available through a number of organizations, including the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers, National Verbatim Reporters Association, National Court Reporters Association and U.S. Court Reporters Association. Generally, to qualify for credentialing, court transcriptionists must meet typing requirements and pass an exam. Some organizations also require transcriptionists to meet minimum work experience requirements.
Workshops and Seminars
Court transcriptionists can attend industry conferences, which often last 3-4 days and include mini-workshops and seminars. Through these events, transcriptionists can learn about trends in court reporting, new technologies and marketing techniques for independent contractors. Also, some court reporting websites offer 1-2 hour online seminars on topics ranging from ethics to proofreading.
A number of continuing education resources, which can keep court transcriptionists up to date on current events and legal changes, are available via the Internet. Some court reporting websites also allow visitors to sign up for virtual newsletters. There are also Web-based magazines centered on the court reporting industry.
Prospective court transcriptionist students can pursue either a certificate or associate degree program, to potentially move on to a career as a court reporter, a field with a 2015 median annual wage of $49,500.