How to Begin a Professional Career as a Court Reporter

Court reporters: A Quick Look
Median Salary$48,160 per annum
Entry-level educationPost-secondary certificate
On-the-job trainingSome on-the-job training
Primary employersGovernment
Number of positions (U.S.)21,200
Job Growth (2012-2022)10 (On par with the national average)
New positions (2012-2022)+2,000

How to Begin a Professional Career as a Court ReporterWhat Is A Court Reporter?

Court reporters are trained in various transcription methodologies and transcribe court proceedings verbatim. Some court reporters may also provide live closed captioning for television. Read more.

Salary

The median salary of a court reporter was $48,160 per year, or $23.15 per hour, according to a 2012 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Read more.

Becoming A Court Reporter

Court reporters must receive training in a transcription specialty. Those trained for steno masks and digital recording usually complete a 6 month certificate program, while those studying stenography usually receive an associate’s degree. Court reporters working in legal proceedings usually need to be licensed, though this requirement can vary from state to state. Check out how to begin a professional career as a Court Reporter Read more.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for court reporters is consistent with the national average for all occupations. Read more.

Court Reporter Salary

How much do court reporters make? The median court reporter salary was $48,160 in a study conducted by the national bureau of labor statistics in 2012. According to the study, the lowest paid 10% of court reporters earned $24,790 or less, and the highest paid 10% earned $90,530 or more. While it varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, court reporters usually earn a base salary but also earn a portion of their salary from selling their transcripts by the page.

How To Become A Court Reporter

The length of time it takes to become a court reporter depends on the technology. Court reporters receiving training for steno masks and digital recording usually complete their certificate programs in only 6 months, while training programs in stenography can take between 2-4 years.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Court Reporter

The length of time it takes to become a court reporter depends on the technology being studied. Court reporters receiving training for steno masks and digital recording usually complete their certificate programs in only 6 months, while training programs in stenography can take between 2-4 years.

Educational Requirements

The court reporter’s educational requirements vary depending on the method of court reporting. Those seeking training in digital recording and steno masks usually enter a 6 month program that results in graduation with a certificate, but not a degree. Those seeking training in stenography usually enroll in a 2-4 year program and receive an associate’s degree. Students take general courses in legal procedure, legal terminology, as well as English grammar and linguistics. They also receive practical training in their chosen methodologies e.g. using a stenotype to produce practice transcripts. Upon graduation from their formal training program, court reporters also receive a brief period of on-the-job training. See our listing of the top court reporter schools & training programs

Certification

Court reporting certification is offered by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). Upon passing a written exam and a practical skills test which require the court reporter to demonstrate that they’re capable of typing at least 225 words per minute, the court reporter is recognized as a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR).

Licensing

Court reporters working in legal proceedings require licensing in many states. The specific licensing requirements vary from state-to-state and by the type of court reporting. 22 states also use/accept the RPR certification in lieu of a licensing exam. Because licensing requirements vary from state to state, those seeking further details are advised to consult with their local state association’s website.

Additional Information

If you'd like to know more about becoming a court reporter, be sure you check out our list of the top court reporter schools.

Court Reporter Job Description

What does a court reporter do? Court reporters create written transcripts of legal proceedings and meetings that can be used as an official record. Their role is critical in any situation where being able to quickly access past dialogue is important, such as in court or important meetings. Court reporters might also provide their services for closed captioning for television and live events. Because court reporters must transcribe in real-time, they don’t use traditional keyboard layouts. Court reporters use a number of techniques that allow them to transcribe quickly and accurately. Their primary method of transcribing for court reporters is the stenotype machine. The stenotype is similar to a traditional QWERTY keyboard in that the individual uses keystrokes to record words, but instead of working letter by letter, the stenotype generates words through key combinations. This allows anyone trained in using stenography to type much faster than individuals using traditional QWERTY typing. Some court reporters also use a steno mask, which is essentially a covered microphone connected to a computer. This allows them to replicate dialogue and also describe actions and gestures, without disturbing the proceedings around them. A computer program converts the court reporters words into a written transcript, which the court reporter later goes over to ensure accuracy. Court reporters also use digital recording in order to create a record of events. They may operate and monitor the digital recording machine, and also take additional notes that clarify context and who is speaking, which may accompany the digital record. The court reporter might later use the digital recording to create a written word-for-word transcript.

Duties

A court reporter’s typical duties include:
  • Going to proceedings that require written transcription.
  • Create an accurate transcription and record of spoken dialogue, using a stenotype, steno mask, or digital recording.
  • Add any necessary context to the transcript (e.g. names, gestures, actions).
  • Familiarize themselves with names of the present parties as well as any technical vocabulary.
  • Review and edit transcripts for accuracy and typographical errors.
  • Provide their transcripts to courts, counsel, and other parties.

Alternative Job Titles

  • Stenographer
  • Law reporter

Job Outlook

The job outlook for court reporters is consistent with the national average. Projected job growth from 2012-2022 is 10%, which is the just 1 percentage point below the national projected job growth for all occupations (11%). New court reporter positions are expected to be created outside of legal proceedings, as new federal legislation imposes additional closed captioning requirements for companies producing online content. With an increasing elderly population, there will also be increased demand for Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART). On the other hand, the continued advancement of digital recording technology is also starting to affect the role of the court reporter. Some states for example have replaced court reporters with digital recording technology, though court reporters are still required to supervise the recording process, as well as review and edit the final transcripts. According to surveys from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, court reporting training programs report that nearly all of their graduates are able to obtain employment. The surveys also show that court reporters with real time caption and CART training currently have the best job prospects.

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Posted in Glossary of Careers, Legal, Law Enforcement & Criminal Justice

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