How to Become a Court Reporter

Online degree for court reporting programs can help students establish themselves as candidates for careers in the field. Court reporters serve the criminal justice and legal systems by recording the events and discussions that take place in a court room. They are primarily responsible for producing verbatim transcriptions of each gesture and action, and must edit their documents for any errors. Court reports are considered official records, so court reporters must be accurate and detail-oriented. Typically, court reporters work in offices and court rooms, although some may be required to attend events. Others may be responsible for assisting the hard-of-hearing by providing transcriptions of discussions that take place during meetings.

Court reporters are typically employed by courts and legal offices throughout the nation. The career involves a lot of writing, research, and knowledge of specific tools, like stenotype machines and recording equipment. Prospective court reporters should also be attentive and have the ability to transcribe speech in a quick and efficient manner. In addition, they should be comfortable with traveling to different court houses and events. Though exact qualifications vary by employer, education and licensing is important for prospective court reporters.

Minimum Qualifications

Most employers require court reporters to have some kind of education, typically a certificate or associate degree. Depending on the technology that the court reporter will be using, some training in steno masks and recording devices may be necessary. In addition, court reporters are usually required to be licensed. Gaining some on-the-job training is beneficial for prospective court reporters as well.

Education & Training

Court reporting schools usually have certificate and associate degree programs. Online degrees for court reporting classes are usually designed for individuals who need to learn about digital recording and steno masks. These programs only take a few months to complete and prepare students for basic court transcription duties. On the other hand, individuals who need to learn about stenography for their careers usually attend a two-year program and earn an associate degree. Having a degree allows prospective court reporters to work in high-level court rooms and take on additional responsibilities, like transcribing conferences and speeches.

Regardless of the level pursued by students, certification is an important part of training. The court reporter certification board known as the National Court Reporter’s Association provides certification. The certification test examines the knowledge that graduates have gained from their classes through written and skill assessments. Graduates may also become certificated in digital recording as well.

Career Statistics

Court reporters have the option of pursuing full-time employment or freelancing jobs. Freelancers have more control over their schedules and have the opportunity to sell their transcriptions for side revenue, but the work may not be as steady as full-time employment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), court reporting as a field is projected to grow by 14% by 2020. Though salaries vary based on location and employer, the BLS shows that court reporters earn a median annual salary of $47,700, with the lowest 10% earning $25,710 and the highest 10% earning $91,280. The large gap in salaries is due to differing experience and education levels.

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