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Why Become a Court Reporter?
Court reporting programs provide individuals with the methods and techniques used to transcribe spoken word in real time, typically in a courtroom setting. Court reporters must have quick typing skills, excellent hearing, and strong grammar proficiency.
A court reporter is also known as a stenographer and creates a written record of judicial proceedings. Court reporters will utilize a CAT (Computer Aided Transcription) or stenotype to transcribe the oral record of a legal hearing in a courtroom into a written record. Court reporters must be efficient and accurate to create legal transcriptions of hearings, meetings, events, and conversations pertinent to a case. With technological advances, court reporters may be involved in providing on-demand video, web-casting, and closed caption services for individuals with hearing or visual disabilities.
In addition to their work in the courtroom, a court reporter may also be asked to help judges and lawyers record legal proceedings and client-attorney meetings. Additionally, a stenographer may help perform case-related research and be asked to assist with courtroom administration.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Court Reporter?
The length of time to become a court reporter depends on the program you enroll in and the school. For example, a certificate program in court reporting may be compressed into a year program for full-time students while an associate’s degree in court reporting is upwards of two years with a number of degree-specific and general education courses intertwined. When performing research on which online court reporting or on-site court program is best for you, take the time to research the job requirements for employers in your city or municipality.
Difference Between Court Reporter and Stenographer?
The terms court reporter and stenographer are often used interchangeably. In fact, in many legal settings and legal offices they are identical titles with the same set of job responsibilities. However, in other legal settings the two are different and need to be understood to help you successfully navigate this vocational field. A stenographer will often work in a legal office performing dictation for managers and associates and their clients. On the other hand, a court reporter will work in a court room transcribing the oral arguments and conversations into a written document. Some online and classroom-based college programs provide a different set of curriculum and training for court reporters and stenographers so make sure to determine which path is best prior to admissions.
Court Reporting Schools & Education Requirements
An education in court reporting may result in certification, an associate's degree or bachelor's degree. Students enrolled in a court reporting program will learn to utilize one or more of the machines used to transcribe conversations, testimonies, or arguments in order to maintain records that maybe referred to during a trial or for future review. Students will develop a basic level of legal knowledge, primarily in the for of legal vocabulary, in order to better understand and record events within a courtroom. Students will also obtain practical experience through the use of machines and mock settings under the supervision of teachers or professionals.
Courses may include:
- Court Reporting
- Court Transcription
- Foundations of Law
- Language and Writing
- Machine Shorthand Theory
Online Opportunities to Become a Court Reporter
There are a number of accredited colleges around the country that provide diploma, certificate, and degree programs in court reporting on-site and online. The key is to find the program that is best for you by aligning your schedule, resources, and career objectives with the online offerings from a school. Begin your research in court reporting today by getting matched to the right online college below and begin acquiring career-specific skills in court reporting.
Career Opportunities in Court Reporting
Individuals working as court reporters will seek employment through the various courts circuits available at the local, county, state and federal levels. Individuals will have to demonstrate competency prior to employment, as the need for accuracy is the cornerstone of the job. Work typically take place during the normal working hours, though may vary based on the court. Court reporters must maintain a professional appearance, be on time, and have their equipment in place prior to the start of the days sessions. The demand for court reporters is higher than the actual number of available.
Some states may require court reporters to obtain licensure, the requirements of which will vary by state, and often requiring an exam and graduation from a certified program. An individual may obtain national certification from the National Verbatim Reporters Association, through the completion of an exam in on of the following three categories:
- Certified Verbatim Reporter (CVR)
- Certificate of Merit (CM)
- Real-Time Verbatim Reporter (RVR)
Much of one's training in regards to the type equipment used will be learned on the job. The average salary for a court reporter is $51,320 which equates to $24.68 per hour and will vary by experience and geography. Experience with the various machines and systems used by court reporters typically results in higher pay. Career opportunities can vary for court reporters, as many of the skills earned can be used for live broadcasts such as news and sports programs. Many broadcasts look for experienced court reporters to fill positions because their abilities have been honed and proven in high demand environments. Live broadcasts require individuals to adapt to the machines and methods utilized, which may require some additional training or education.
Top 5 Highest Paying States for Court Reporters
- Massachusetts $88,500
- New York $88,320
- Colorado $86,060
- Texas $78,410
- Colorado $69,790
Additional Resources for Court Reporters
Those looking into a career in court reporting may also be interested in a career as a paralegal, criminology, forensic science, or criminal justice. In addition to top degree tracks in court reporting, non-profit organizations provide exclusive member benefits that may be worthy in researching. Associations include the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), US Court Reporters Association (USCRA), and the National Verbatim Court Reporters Association (NVCRA).