Court reporting is one of those careers that is likely to endure despite technological advances and changes. The need for skilled individuals to capture and record information during court and legal proceedings is something that simply cannot be replaced by machines or computers. As with any profession, though, court reporting is not for everyone. So, how can you know a court reporting career is a good career for you? You can start by learning more about what the job entails, what education and skills you need and what it is like to work in this career.
The main job duty of a court reporter is to record what is said during legal proceedings. These records must be word-for-word accounts. Accuracy is very important because these transcripts become part of the legal documents in a legal case. You may work in the courtroom to record testimony and arguments during a trial using special equipment, such as stenography machines. You may also be present at depositions and other legal proceedings.
There is a formal education requirement to gain the skills needed to become a court reporter. Most individuals will earn a certificate or associate’s degree in court reporting at a technical school or community college. These programs generally will cover English grammar, legal procedures and legal terminology. A focus is also usually put on typing speed and accuracy. Students may also learn how to use equipment common in the field.
Courts will typically require court reporters to be licensed or certified. Licensing is usually handled by the state and requires passing an examination. Certification can be obtained through professional organizations, like the National Court Reporters Association. Continuing education may be required to maintain licensing or certification.
Once hired, you will usually get on-the-job training. This training will help you to become familiar with the procedures of the court where you are working.
Now that you know what the job duties and education requirements are, you may have a better idea if court reporting is a good career for you. However, it can also help to learn more about the skills needed. To begin with, you should have some interest in the law and legal proceedings. You will be spending your day listening in on legal situations, so it is helpful if you actually enjoy this field.
In addition, you need to be able to easily follow dialogue and be good at understanding accents and different ways of speaking. This will enable you to produce accurate records without having to repeatedly ask for clarification.
You also have to be dedicated to accuracy and details. The transcripts that you create have to be precise. Every word you record needs to be correct. Remember that you are creating a legal document. Errors or omissions can cause issues down the line in the legal process. This also means you must have a good grasp of English grammar and be able to type quickly.
You also need to think about the work environment. As a court reporter, you will be working mainly in courtrooms and legal offices. These can be high-stress environments. If you are working on a case that has captured public attention, that stress may affect you because of the great importance of your job and the scrutiny you may be under.
You can expect to spend most of your time sitting. Work hours are usually fairly stable. Most work is done during normal business hours, but some courts may hold proceedings at night, and you may be called in to help attorneys or judges in emergency situations.
Understanding the different aspects of the job can be a great help if determining if this career suits you. The bottom line is that success as a court reporter largely relies upon your typing skills and your ability to understand legal proceedings. If you think that you would enjoy witnessing the legal process every day and you enjoy typing, then this may be a great career choice for you.