Court reporters are an important part of trials, court hearings, and legal proceedings. These professionals create word-for-word transcriptions and capture spoken dialogue using stenography machines.

With technological advancements, court reporting has become more challenging and dynamic. With the legal industry expanding and becoming more complex, the demand for court reporters has increased. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for court reporters is expected to grow by 10% from 2012-2022.

How to Be a Court Reporter?

  • Get an associate degree or a certification in court reporting
  • Complete training
  • Pass licensing exam and typing speed tests

There are many vocational schools and technical colleges offering court reporting programs. You can opt for a program that best fits your budget and career goals. Make sure you select a school that is accredited.

Associate Degree in Court Reporting
BECOMING A COURT REPORTER

Associate Degree in Court Reporting

This is an undergraduate two year program that is designed to provide students with the skill and academic foundation needed to join the industry. The focus of the program is on theoretical understanding and training. Students will spend the initial semesters gaining in-depth knowledge of legal terminology, courtroom proceedings, law administration, and court reporting fundamentals.

Further in the program, students will learn how to use stenography equipment and other reporting programs. Through practical training, students will learn how to capture, store, and translate spoken words in real time. The curriculum of the program will typically cover:

  • CART (Communication Access Real-time Translation)
  • Computer-Aided Transcription (CAT)

Coursework

The coursework of the program may vary a little from college to college. But generally, the following important courses are studied:

  • Computerized Machine Shorthand Theory

This course will cover the basic theory of shorthand machine. Students will learn how to hear speech and translate it into written text. The course aims to enhance a student’s listening, concentration, and typing skills.

  • Court Reporting Procedures

In this course, students will learn how to transcribe multi-voice dictation. The course will also highlight the importance of court reporting, the difference between depositions, trials and hearings.

  • Court Reporting and Technology

This course will help students explore computer-aided transcription software. Students will learn how to utilize different features of such software programs and develop transcripts.

  • Courtroom Practicum

This is a practice-oriented course. Students must participate in training and complete a minimum number of hours on the short hand machine. The course will help students understand all aspects of court reporting procedures.

  • Foundations of Language and Writing

This is a fundamental course that focuses on different aspects of English language. Students will cover important topics such as composition and essay writing, proofreading, communication and speech, and English grammar.

Licensing

To become a court reporter, you may have to get licensed in your state. The requirements for licensing will vary from state to state. Each state has its own board or association for court reporters. You can get in touch with the court reporting or licensing board in your state to find out what the minimum requirements are.

General License Requirements:

  • Must be over the age of 18
  • Must have a high school diploma
  • No criminal record
  • Must have a certificate in court reporting

Certification

There are many certifications offered by court reporting associations. The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) is an internationally recognized organization that promotes this occupation and offers certifications in the field of court reporting. Here are some of the certifications offered by NCRA:

  • Registered Professional Reporter (RPR)
  • Registered Merit Reporter (RMR)
  • Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR)
  • Certified Real-time Reporter (CRR)
  • Certified Broadcast Captioner (CBC)
  • Certified CART Provider (CCP)

The eligibility requirements will vary from certification to certification. Individuals must pass the certification test that may include typing speed tests and written tests.

Other organizations offering certifications in court reporting include the National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA) and the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT).

How Long Does it Take to Become a Court Reporter?

It can take you 2-3 years to become a court reporter. The duration will depend upon which academic path you take. For example, if you opt for an associate degree, you will spend two years in college, and another 6-8 months for training and certification. There is no defined time period for preparing for a court reporting career.

Employment Prospects

After becoming a court reporter, you can apply for jobs at local or state level courts. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, 31% of court reporters were employed in the local government sector. The median annual income of court reports was $48,160 in 2012. The exact income level will depend upon your qualification, work experience and employer organization.