As a court reporter, you’ll attend public speaking events as well as legal proceedings in order to make verbatim transcriptions. You might also have the opportunity to caption a public event or television program. Other duties for court reporters include reporting actions and gestures, getting transcripts together for records, making sure that your transcripts are free of typographical errors and providing courts, involved parties and counsels with recordings and transcripts. If you’re interested in becoming a court reporter, you’ll need to complete certain training and obtain a license and certification as well.
A majority of court reporters have received official training at either a community college or technical institute. Depending on the transcription method you’re interested in, you’ll have to complete a certain kind of program. For a program in digital recording and on using steno masks, you’ll be able to earn a certificate in as little as six months. A stenography program is where you’ll learn how to use stenotype machines. These programs lead to an associate’s degree and can take anywhere from two to four years to complete. A majority of court reporting programs include studies in phonetics, grammar, terminology and legal procedures. You’ll also learn how to prepare legal transcripts and work on both your accuracy and speed.
Certification and Licensing
A majority of places will require you to be licensed if you’re a court reporter working in a legal setting. The type of license you’ll need will depend on your method of court reporting. Currently, the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) offers broadcast captioners and court reporters certification. If you’re looking to earn your certification as a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR), you’ll have to successfully pass a skills test and a written test where you’ll have to type at least 225 words in a minute. As of now, there are only 22 states that either accept or use the RPR certification instead of a licensing exam or state certification.
While not required, voice reporters and digital reporters have the options of obtaining certification.
Once you’ve finished your formal program as a court reporter, you’ll be required to finish a short-term on-the-job training session. In order for their NCRA certification to remain current, court reporters are required to finish online training as well as continuing education courses. If you’re a currently licensed court reporter and are looking for continuing education course requirements, check with your state association’s website.
Before you start looking at court reporting programs to enroll in, you’ll most likely want to make sure that you have the qualities necessary to become a successful court reporter. Court reporters need excellent concentration skills since they have to give their full attention to whatever is being said in addition to all actions and gestures. There might be distractions during legal proceedings, but your attention must remain focused at all times.
Court reporters must also be highly detailed oriented. The legal transcripts that you create are also legal records, so they have to be absolutely perfect and free of any and all mistakes. In order for those transcripts to be perfect, you’ll need to be a good listener so that you can capture and record every single word that is uttered. And of course, court reporters have to be masters of punctuation, grammar and vocabulary.
Once you’ve completed your training for court reporting and obtained all of the necessary licensing and certification, you might be wondering what your chances are of earning a job position, especially during times of a questionable job market. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is expected that the employment rate for court reporters will grow by 14% from the year 2010 to 2020, which is about as fast as the average when compared to all other occupations. The employment demand for court reporters will be driven by recent federal legislation that makes it so that there has to be more captioning for technologies such as the Internet.
Court reporters are needed outside of the courtroom as well, despite their job title. TV shows will continue to need closed captioning and networks will need their online broadcasts to be captioned as well. Members of the elderly community need Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) services and for court reporters to follow them to religious services, their physician appointments and to various other meetings.
Becoming a court reporter could be the perfect occupation that you’re looking for. See what programs are offered in your area and what you’ll need in order to become licensed and earn your certification.
For additional information about court reporters, check out the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.