How Do I Become a Court Reporter?
Technology is changing the way court reporters do their job...and offering more opportunities.
Court reporters use sophisticated technology to document the words spoken by everyone during official proceedings and prepare verbatim transcripts of their statements.
Court reporters are a crucial part of any legal proceeding, and with ever-changing technology, court reporter training is necessary for landing the best jobs and obtaining the knowledge needed to stay relevant in this dynamic career.
- Court reporters capture speeches, conversations, legal proceedings, meetings and other events when written accounts of spoken words are necessary for correspondence, records or legal proof.
- In addition to reporting court proceedings, reporters transcribe depositions and other parts of pretrial proceedings.
- Court reporters also provide closed-captioning and real-time translation services to those in the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
- Court reporters use computer-aided transcription (computers tied to a stenotype machine) to turn their notes into readable print. The accurate work of court reporters is vital to an effective judicial system.
Where Court Reporters Work
According to the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), only about 27 percent of the court reporters in the U.S. actually work in court. The rest are freelance reporters hired by attorneys to report depositions of potential trial witnesses, so might work in law offices or in offices rented by lawyers in a neutral, third-party setting.
Training and Education
Court reporter training is serious business. Court reporters must complete a 2-to-4-year associate's or bachelor's degree program. Most court reporting programs cover legal terminology, criminal and appellate procedure, in addition to computer-aided transcription and real-time reporting. NCRA-approved programs require students to capture a minimum of 225 words per minute.
Licensing and Certification
State requirements vary widely, but court reporter certification is highly recommended because most employers require it. Some states require court reporters to be Notaries Public in addition to being a Certified Court Reporter (CCR).
The National Court Reporters Association offers the title Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) to those who pass a four-part examination and participate in continuing education programs. A reporter may obtain additional certifications that demonstrate higher levels of competency, such as Certified Real-time Reporter (CRR).
Court Reporter Salaries
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2012-13 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for court reporters is $47,700. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. Many salaried court reporters supplement their income by doing additional freelance work. Freelance court reporters are paid per job and receive a per-page fee for transcripts.
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