Court stenographers are typically required to have a postsecondary certificate or associate's degree. They need to be proficient typists and may also need to pass a typing test. In some states court stenographers must also pass a state exam to become a notary public.
Stenography is a specific type of court reporting that involves a stenotype machine, which helps create written accounts of events. Courtroom stenographers, generally known as court reporters, are responsible for documenting such occasions as legal proceedings, speeches, meetings and conversations. They usually earn an associate's degree or a postsecondary certificate. States also often require Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) certification or other licensure and a typing test.
|Required Education||Postsecondary certificate or associate's degree typically required|
|Other Requirements||Typing test|
|Licensure and Certification||One or the other often required; varies by state|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||2% for all court reporters|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$49,500 annually for all court reporters|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Courtroom Stenographer Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), compensation varies for courtroom stenographers based on their location, experience and certification. Wages for an official court reporter include an annual salary, but freelance reporters may also get a transcript fee for each page. Freelance work allows salaried individuals to earn extra income, because stenographers charge per job in addition to the per-page transcript fee. The BLS reported that in May, 2015 the bottom 10% of court reporters earned $27,180 or less, while the top 10% earned $90,510 or more. The BLS listed the median annual wage as $49,500 in May 2015.
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Court Stenographer Career Information
Court reporters most commonly use stenography to transcribe, word-by-word, what goes on in a courtroom. Stenotype machines, which are shaped like typewriters, allow court reporters to press multiple keys at the same time to record letter combinations representing sounds, phrases and words. A computer-aided transcription records, translates and displays the results.
In addition to transcribing events, stenographers are responsible for creating and maintaining the computer dictionary they use for translating keystrokes with their stenography machine. They frequently work in courtrooms, conventions and offices.
The BLS predicted slow job growth for court reporters between 2014 and 2024 with a 2% growth rate. The BLS expects the best prospects for experienced professionals who have been trained in real-time captioning and Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART).
Courtroom Stenographer Education Information
Preparation for this career often involves about 33 months of training. Vocational and technical schools offer education in court reporting at the certificate and associate's degree levels. The National Court Reporters Association mandates that students reach a working speed of 225 words per minute, and it certifies programs and individuals. Class topics include writing theory, dictionary production and maintenance, speed building, tech reporting and computer-aided transcription. At the end of the program, students should achieve the word-per-minute rate as required. Court reporters must pass a state-administered exam to become notary publics if this designation is required by the state.
Court stenographers maintain a written record of everything said in a courtroom proceeding. They need to demonstrate the ability to maintain a 225-word-per-minute typing speed and may be required to pass state exams to become licensed or certified.