Court reporters must be fast and accurate in their reporting, in addition to having good hearing and strong listening skills. They must exhibit a good grasp of grammar, punctuation and spelling. Court reporters also must be able to work on a deadline and would benefit from knowledge of current events and legal proceedings.
The length of training for court reporters is largely based on the reporting method one hopes to learn. While certificate and degree programs in court reporting address all methods, on-the-job training might be best for those employing electronic equipment. In some cases, court reporters learn to use electronic equipment through vendor-based training programs. Several technical and community colleges offer certificate and 2-year degree programs in court reporting. More than 60 programs across the U.S. have certification from the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA).
Prerequisites for a certificate program or associate's degree in court reporting includes having a formal education. Excellent typical skills including good grammar and punctuation skills is also necessary.
Court Reporting Certificate
Certificate programs in court reporting take one year or less to complete. They focus on improving typing and communication skills, as well as focus on helping individuals expand on their knowledge of legal documents and legal terminology. Students explore topics that include:
- Legal terminology
- Legal documents
- Court reporting technology
- Real-time reporting
- Computerized transcription
- Medical terminology
Associate's Degree in Court Reporting
A 2-year program in court reporting typically leads to an Associate of Applied Science degree. Coursework typically includes machine shorthand, oral communication, business math and English, vocabulary usage and sociology. Many programs also include specific courses to prepare students for certification exams. Some other common coursework in these programs include:
- Reporting technology
- Reporting communications
- Realtime reporting
- Technical dictation
- Interpersonal communications
Popular Career Options
Students who get a degree in court reporting can go on to work in many different avenues. Some job titles might include freelance reporting, official reporter, broadcast captioner, real time reporter and CART provider.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the BLS, court reporters as of May 2015 make a mean annual wage of $54,720. The job outlook for these reporters from 2014-2024 is expected to grow 2%, which is slower than average for all other occupations.
Some states require that court reporters be licensed. However, completing voluntary national certification often is sufficient for licensing. The NCRA offers four certifications for court reporters, including Registered Merit Reporter (RMR), Registered Professional Reporter (RPR), Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR) and Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR). More than 20 states currently accept the RPR certification in lieu of a licensing exam.
The National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA) features three certifications for court reporters who use the voice recording method. These credentials include Certificate of Merit (CM), Certified Verbatim Reporter and Real-time Verbatim Reporter (RVR). One must be a CVR before pursing the CM credential. Dictation and transcription testing must be completed before obtaining these certifications, which can take the place of state licensure.
The American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT) offers three certifications for electronic court reporters with at least two years' experience in the field. Candidates must also be eligible to become notary publics and have a high school diploma. AAERT offers the Certified Electronic Court Transcriber (CET), Certified Electronic Court Reporter (CER) and Certified Electronic Court Reporter and Transcriber (CERT) credentials. Additionally, the United States Court Reporters Association (USCRA) provides a Federal Certified Realtime Reporter (FCRR) credential for federal court reporters.
Seminars and educational conferences are often offered by state court reporters' associations. National organizations, such as the NCRA, also conduct seminars and conferences, as well as continuing education workshops and seminars needed to fulfill certification renewal requirements.
A certificate program or two-year associates degree provides the educational requirements for a career as a court reporter. Both the certificate program and associates degree offer the technical training needed to operate equipment specific to the field.