Court reporter jobs, a.k.a stenography jobs, imply keeping written transcripts of court proceedings. In court hearings and trials, keeping verbatim records demands a skillful professional educated for court reporting that commonly includes stenography.
Court reporters deliver official word-for-word transcripts at administrative hearings, trials, criminal and civil proceedings, depositions, and other court proceedings. Court reporter jobs have a vital role in court processes, as they demand an accurate record of everything that was said.
They also help attorneys and judges pick up, organize, and deliver official transcripts of trials. These transcripts or records enable efficient search for essential data or information included in the transcript. Additionally, the court reporting career involves indexing catalog exhibits included in trials.
However, not all court reporters work in legal environments. Some professionals also give captions for the TV and real-time translation for deaf and hard of hearing individuals at meetings, public events, or classrooms.
What Do Court Reporters Do?
A court reporter, also referred to as a court stenographer, creates official written records of legal proceedings — trials, criminal proceedings, civil hearings, or legislative meetings. They are also responsible for delivering entire and accurate records of any legal events to allow easy access to all legal professionals interested in those matters.
Their position at court is of great significance, as court reporter duties include producing complete, exact, and confidential legal transcripts of legal proceedings, testimonials, and depositions. These records allow all interested parties to look for any information given in the record. Court reporters are also responsible for registering catalog exhibits used in trials.
The primary court reporter’s responsibilities involve using specific gadgets to record dialogues. Those are called stenotype machines and resemble traditional keyboards. However, the main difference is that, unlike keyboards, stenotype machines produce words via key combinations instead of single characters. Such a way of typing allows court reporters to follow a fast dialogue.
These key combinations are further saved in computer software to employ a computer-assisted transcription that translates the combination into a real-time and readable text. Finally, a court reporter checks the text and corrects any spelling or grammar mistakes.
Besides the stenotype machine, the court reporter job may require using steno masks for speech transcription. Professionals who use steno masks use a covered microphone to record dialogues and report gestures or actions. As the mic is covered, other people are unable to hear anything a court reporter is saying. Then, the voice-recognition program converts the speech into text that the reporter checks for accuracy.
To perform their duties accordingly, court reporting professionals have to produce, maintain, and continually update the dictionary the computer program exploits to translate keypresses into text or speech.
Duties and Responsibilities
Court reporter job description encompasses the following duties and responsibilities:
Attending hearings, court proceedings, depositions, and all other events that demand written transcripts
Recording spoken dialogues using special equipment such as stenography machines, video and audio recording gadgets, and covered mics
Reporting a speaker’s actions, gestures, or identification
Reading or playing back the entire proceeding or a part of it upon the judge’s request
Reviewing the notes and checking for grammar and spelling mistakes, and speakers’ names or technical terminology
Providing transcript and making copies for courts or involved parties
Transcribing TV or film dialogues for the hearing-impaired audience
Providing real-time translation during lectures or other public events for the hearing-impaired population.
Skills and Qualifications typical for official court reporter jobs include:
Exquisite soft skills — verbal communication, interpersonal and organizational skills, time management, flexibility, and similar
Excellent listening and writing skills
Reading comprehension skills
Concentration and good attention to detail.
Some people who received court reporting training have chosen a different career path. Instead of the courtroom, they work on the television or with deaf or hard of hearing people. Hence, the chances for court reporting employment aren’t related only to the courtroom.
Broadcast captioners or just captioners are in charge of providing close captions for live or recorded TV shows. These are intended for a hearing-impaired audience to help them watch TV programs. Their primary duty is to translate dialogues that will appear on the screen in the form of subtitles. Some captioners have to translate the conversation in real time during the show. Others do their job in the post-production.
Communication access real-time providers (CART) are among the court reporting careers with the primary responsibility of helping hard of hearing people in a range of occurrences. They help their clients at board meetings, appointments, or other situations that require a real-time translation. For instance, they may caption high-school or college lectures and offer transcripts to students with hearing issues.
CART providers may attend meetings together with their clients. However, many captioners and CART professionals prefer working remotely using a stable internet connection or a phone line.
Court reporters have a wide range of employment options. They may choose among local, state, or federal court reporter jobs, freelance work, or television. Additionally, law firms or corporations may hire part-time or freelance court reporters for pre-trial depositions or similar events.
The court reporters’ job is typically related to courtrooms. Therefore, many professionals commute to the court or their offices located in various parts of the city. However, freelance court reporter jobs, captioning, or CART services might be done remotely, from employees’ homes or central offices.
As of 2018, court reporters have held 15,700 positions, 34% of whom offered business support services. Moreover, 31% worked for the local government (with the exclusion of hospitals and schools), while 28% worked for the state government (hospitals and schools excluded). Only 5% were self-employed.
As accuracy and speed are among the key requirements for this role, it is considered a bit stressful.
Court reporting jobs from home allow flexibility in the work schedule to determine their working hours. However, court or legislature-related positions require court reporting professionals to work full-time, which is 40 hours a week.
How to Become a Court Reporter
To start pursuing a court reporter career, you must gain at least a two-year college degree. Afterward, you must enroll in post-secondary courses specifically designed for court reporters.
The next educational step is obtaining a license or certification. In fact, they are compulsory for court reporter employment. A licensed or certified professional is expected to acquire skills and knowledge typical of the profession, ranging from courtroom procedures to real-time reporting and closed captioning.
Lastly, court reporters may undergo on-the-job training that lasts for several weeks.
Besides formal education and licenses, court reporter jobs require a set of specific soft skills. Those are either inborn skills or acquired throughout life. They typically include excellent verbal communication and interpersonal skills, essential for meaningful and constructive communication. Problem-solving and critical thinking skills enable reaching the best possible solution in a short time. Time management and organizational skills allow taking a systematic approach to each task and proper scheduling to finish everything on time.
Moreover, a court reporter role requires exquisite listening skills, as they need to record and transcribe everything during the trial. These skills help them understand everything they hear. Writing skills are also essential to produce good-quality transcriptions. Similarly, reading comprehension skills are necessary to grasp written documents.
As court proceedings may last for a few hours, exquisite concentration is crucial to court reporter job requirements. Another vital skill is being able to pay great attention to detail because accuracy is imperative. Missing a single detail may have detrimental consequences.
A lot of court reporters gain their formal education at technical institutes or community colleges. They offer various programs that award an associate degree or a certificate. Both allow applying for court reporter job openings. But certification programs prepare future professionals for licensing examinations and typing speed tests that most states require.
Furthermore, plenty of courses involve English grammar and phonetics and legal terminology and procedures. Students exercise preparing transcripts to enhance their speed and accuracy. Some schools even provide training in handling various transcription gadgets like steno masks or stenotype machines.
It may take 2–5 years to finish a court reporting program. However, when they finish the entire program, court reporters have to attend on-the-job training that lasts for a few weeks. It involves lecturing about technology and training on how to use specific equipment.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Almost all states hiring court reporters require them to be licensed or certified by the authority association. Licensing requirements may vary depending on the state and the court reporting method.
The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) provides certifications to court reporters, CART providers, and broadcast captioners. About half of the US states currently accept the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) certification instead of a licensing exam or mandatory state certification.
Those applying for digital court reporter jobs must have a certification issued by the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT). This body provides the Certified Electronic Reporter (CER) and Certified Electronic Transcriber (CET) designations. Voice reporters also have the opportunity to get certification by the National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA).
To obtain certifications from all these associations, applicants must pass a written and a skills test. The former requires them to type, transcribe, or record a minimal number of words per only one minute with an outstanding level of accuracy. Additionally, court reporters must acquire a specific number of education credits to renew certifications.
Court reporter career advancement typically means moving up the ladder. Namely, freelance court reporting professionals may be hired by the court. Those who have already been employed at Superior Court may be transferred to the district court. The top of the court reporting career ladder is a Senate Reporter and reporting hearings in Washington D.C.
Alternatively, experienced court reporters may lecture students training to become court reporters.
The median annual court reporter jobs salary amounted to $60,130 as of May 2019. The median annual wage is the income amount that divides a population into two equal groups — 50% having an income above that amount and 50% having an income below that amount. The highest 10% exceeded $106,210, whereas the lowest 10% made less than $31,570.
In May 2019, the average salary of a court reporter employed at top industries was the following:
State governments (without schools and hospitals): $68,020
Local governments (without schools and hospitals): $63,700
Business support services: $48,690
Freelancers are paid for their time spent at work, but they also can sell their transcripts for an additional profit.
Court reporter jobs are expected to increase by 7% in the 2018–2028 period. This growth is somewhat faster compared to all other occupations. Federal regulations requiring extended use of captioning for TV, web, and other technologies will increase court reporters’ demand. However, budget restraints and the technology used may affect employment growth.
Careers in court reporting are expected to skyrocket outside the courtroom as well. Reporters will be in demand for TV programs captioning. Not only have federal regulations extended captioning prerequisites, but they also established accuracy standards for live and pre-recorded shows. Therefore, TV networks are bound to employ many broadcast captioners to adhere to these regulations.
The increase in the elderly population will raise CART providers’ need to accompany them at appointments, meetings, and services. Plus, cinemas and stadiums are going to offer closed captioning for hard of hearing people. To discover how many open positions there are at the moment, simply google “court reporter jobs near me.” You may be surprised by the results.
However, budgetary limits in both state and local governments may restrain the employment increase. The growing use of digital audio recording gadgets may affect employment growth as well. What’s more, some state courts have supplanted court reporters with the new tech. Other states evaluate expenses, accuracy, and reliability of implementing and maintaining the audio-video technology and accompanying software.
Even with the growing use of technology, a court reporter will supervise the equipment and transcripts’ delivery.
Job opportunities will be the best for students who have graduated from court reporting programs and applicants trained and experienced in both CART and real-time captioning.
The Bottom Line
As the name suggests, court reporters or stenographers are closely related to trials and court proceedings. Their primary duty is to record and transcribe trials and all other crucial information.
However, careers in court reporting are promising as they allow you to work outside the court and legal proceedings. Namely, you have the opportunity to work for a range of TV networks as a broadcast captioner. Your main responsibility will be to provide captions for record or live programs. Similarly, you can work as a communication access real-time translation (CART) provider and accompany deaf or hard of hearing individuals at their meetings, classes, appointments, and similar.
Whatever vocation you opt for, you’re bound for a lucrative career.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you become a court reporter?
To carve out a career in court reporting, you have to earn at least a two-year college degree. Furthermore, you have to attend post-secondary courses specially designed for court reporters. You’re also expected to obtain the necessary licenses and certifications once your education is over.
Lastly, as a court reporting professional, you may be required to attend on-the-job training that lasts for several weeks.
How long do you go to school to be a court reporter?
Having obtained a college degree, you’ll have to attend special programs dedicated to court reporting. Those programs may take 2–5 years to complete. However, finishing these court reporting programs isn’t the end of the educational process. Namely, when prospective court reporters finish the program, they have to attend on-the-job training. Compared to the previous courses, this training is quite short — it lasts only two weeks.
What hours do court reporters work?
Court reporters who work at local, state, or federal courts have typical working hours. This means that their working time is 40 hours a week. On the other hand, freelance reporters have flexible working hours. The same applies to broadcast captioners and CART providers who work from home. They are not strictly tied to office hours, so they have somewhat flexible working hours.
What is the role of the court reporter?
Court reporters produce official word-for-word transcripts at hearings, trials, criminal, civil, and other court proceedings. Some work outside the courtroom as real-time translation (CART) providers and broadcast captioners. The former assist and accompany deaf and hard of hearing individuals, while the latter produce captions for live or pre-recorded TV programs.
Is court reporting hard?
Court reporting positions are challenging and intense, as they require the professional to remain focused during the whole court proceeding. They have to pay great attention to detail and revise the transcript to check for errors. The work pace is fast, and there is no room for mistakes and errors. The reason is quite simple — any mistakes can have serious consequences. Such pressure can be excruciating at times.
Is court reporting stressful?
Court reporting is stressful for the very same reasons it’s intense. Court reporters have to stay focused during the entire trial that can sometimes last for hours. They also have to be impeccable and pay attention to every detail, as no error is allowed. This may impose a high level of stress and pressure, which might eventually lead to burnout.
How much does a court reporter make per hour?
On an annual basis, court reporters make an average of $60,130. On an hourly basis, this sum amounts to $26 per hour. Court reporters’ salaries at top industries amounted to $68,020 for state governments and $63,700 for local governments. Court reporting professionals involved in business support services earn $48,690.
Freelancers are paid per hour spent at work. However, they have the opportunity to sell their transcripts and thus earn extra cash.
Will court reporters be replaced by computers?
The jobs of court reporters are gradually taken over by audio and video technology. In fact, adopting this technology may save $30,000–$40,000 per year. Besides, many lawmakers believe that voice recognition software could adequately clone a court reporter’s services at much lower costs.
However, computers won’t be able to replace court reporters completely. Artificial Intelligence may replace a human to some extent, but it takes a (human) professional to monitor artificial intelligence.
Are court reporters in high demand?
Yes, court reporters are increasingly sought after due to the federal regulations that require extended use of captioning for TV, the internet, and other technologies. Thus, TV networks will engage many broadcast captioners to comply with these regulations.
Besides, the elderly population growth will increase the necessity for CART providers to follow them at appointments and meetings. Additionally, cinemas and stadiums will provide closed captioning for hard of hearing people. All these facts prove that court reporter jobs will be in great demand for quite a while.
Your experience on this site will be improved by allowing cookies.