Court reporter certificate programs may be presented as stenotype stenographer, stenotype hearing reporting, rapid text entry and court reporting majors. Though the titles and lengths of the programs may be different, the training is very similar for each. Speed, accuracy and computer software are key areas of instruction, and some of the curricula highlight specialty transcriptions, such as medical and legal. Certain states require court reporters to be licensed, which typically involves a speed test, proof of high school education and proficiency in English. For advanced training, court reporting associate's degree programs are an option.
Rapid Text Entry Certificate
A rapid text entry certificate program teaches students the phonetic principles, writing dexterity and machine shorthand skills needed to use a stenotype keyboard for computer-aided transcription (CAT). This program encompasses standard grammatical rules, medical and legal terminology, testimony dictation methods and technical skill development. Students may become certified through the National Court Reporting Association (NCRA) after receiving education from an accredited court reporting program. A rapid text entry certificate trains students to reach a transcription speed of 80-120 words per minute. Further coursework may include the following:
- Precision and speed-building methods
- Proofreading and editing practices
- Principles of listening and dictation
- Court reporting computer software
- Confidential record-keeping
- Real-time reporting techniques
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Court Reporting Certificate
Court reporting certificate programs train students in advanced machine shorthand methods, technical transcription, reporting procedures and advanced court reporting technology. Often, a court reporting certificate program prepares students to sit for state court reporting exams to become licensed in the state where they reside. The speed students are required to reach before exiting a court reporting certificate program is usually between 200-300 words per minute using CAT technology. The program may prepare students to sit for the Certified CART Provider (CCP) exam given by the NCRA. A CCP certification means a reporter assists in the translation of the spoken word to text for the hearing-impaired using Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART). Common course subjects include those listed below:
- Advanced real-time reporting methods
- Advanced testimony transcription
- Simulated courtroom proceedings
- Critical thinking principles
- Composition practices
- Technical and medical language dictation
A rapid text court reporter is qualified to do freelance work, legal reporting and hearing-impaired captioning. Positions may include:
- Judicial court reporter
- Closed captioner
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for court reporters were projected to grow by 2% from 2014 to 2024, which was slower than average compared to all other occupations. Those who have training and experience in CART were expected to have the best employment prospects. The mean annual salary listed for court reporters in May 2015 was $54,720, though a slightly higher mean salary of $57,320 was listed for those who worked as court reporters for local government agencies (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
An enhanced skills certificate program in captioning expands on the knowledge given in a rapid text entry or court reporting program. It focuses on captioning techniques specifically to prepare students to use the computer programs most common in captioning reporting. It further builds real-time reporting speed and accuracy skills through particular methods utilized in captioning or broadcast reporting.
Students may also pursue an associate's degree in court reporting. Coursework incorporates training for a variety of reporting positions; medical, judicial and hearing-impaired captioning are all skills developed in one of these two-year programs. The speed and accuracy of real-time transcription for captioning and broadcast reporting may take up to 33 months to cultivate, and graduates must typically reach a minimum of 225 words per minute.
The ability to accurately transcribe words at a fast pace is a must for court reporters. Rapid text entry and court reporting certificate programs not only prepare students to sit for applicable licensure or certification exams, but they also help students increase their words per minute and teach them how to use stenographic technology.