Where there is a court in session, there is a court reporter. Court reporters are essentially great listeners, tasked with providing an extremely accurate report of the events of a trial or meeting. In addition to working in court rooms and law offices, court reporters also often hold positions at television studios where they are in charge of closed captioning.
If you want to learn more about how to become a court reporter, contact the schools that offer criminal justice and court reporter training below.
Court Reporter Job Description
Court reporters may be employed by a court or legal office or may work freelance for a variety of legal clients. Any formal legal proceeding, from a private meeting in a judge’s chambers to a large-scale trial in a courtroom, requires the services of a court reporter. Breaking it down to the bare basics, a court reporter’s job consists of documenting official legal proceedings by creating verbatim transcripts of all statements – that includes every word said, as well as notes on physical and emotional gestures. Getting every word right is essential.
Most court reporters work using a stenotype machine connected to a computer. This machine allows them to note more than one key at a time and later turn notes into legible print. In other cases, a court reporter may use voice writing, repeating proceedings word-for-word into a special microphone, in order to record the trial or meeting.
How to Become a Court Reporter
Court reporters are generally required to have formal education, including an associate or bachelor’s degree. This training teaches future court reporters how to use the complicated technology necessary for the job and also covers important details like courtroom procedure and legal terminology.
The practice afforded by these court reporting schools also ensures that future court reporters will be able to keep up in the courtroom: the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) certifies court reporter training programs which require graduates to be capable of typing at least 225 words per minute. Training to become a court reporter can take about 33 months as students master the skills needed for the stenotype.
Court Reporter Salary Career Outlook
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an excellent job outlook for court reporters due in part to the retiring of older reporters and a diminished interest in the profession by job seekers. BLS data for 2017 reports the median annual salary for court reporters is $55,120, with government jobs offering the best opportunities. These days there are fewer trained stenotypists; instead the use of voice writing has become more widespread. Some courts, though, prefer traditional stenotypists, which means that someone with that particular skill would be in high-demand.
While many careers have been downsized, court reporting is expected to have more job openings than applicants. This projection translates to excellent job prospects and low competition. While courts and television stations, for example, still require the skills of a trained court reporter, qualified candidates can be hard to find. Someone with the appropriate training should be able to easily secure a position.