Court Reporting as a Career

Court reporters play an important role in courtrooms everywhere. Their job is to make word-for-word transcripts of all dialogs that transpire when a court is in session.

These transcripts are used to preserve the conversations that take place for legal record. Court reporting can be a stressful job because of the amount of information that must be recorded accurately. But someone experienced in the field can handle this with ease.

The most important aspect of being a court reporter is the ability to listen. The majority of a reporter’s time will be spent listening to what is being said. It is important to have a clear understanding because the second part of the job is transcription.

This makes it important for court reporters to be able to write with proper grammar. Finally, the reporter must be able to observe and record the emotions of those who are speaking.

Court reporters use various methods to record conversations in the courtroom. The most common method seen is the use of a stenotype. This is a machine that allows a court reporter to quickly record the proceedings as they happen though cutbacks over the past decade have made quicker recording a necessity.

A stenotype machine uses special keys that are shorthand and correspond with many of the commonly heard phrases in the courtroom. Often times they will be connected to a computer and the shorthand will be translated to into text that is readable by everyone.

Another commonly used method of transcribing courtroom activities is through the use of a stenomask. The mask is a microphone that fits over the mouth and contains a microphone. It is designed so that what a court reporter says is not heard by anyone else in the courtroom.

The recording is then transcribed to text at a later time by the court reporter or it can be used in conjunction with new technologies like voice recognition software that allows a computer to transcribe the information. There are also several new court reporting apps available for even more accurate and efficient reporting.

Court reporters generally make an average salary of around 35-65 thousand per year, depending on the area and experience level, though higher salaries are not uncommon. In most places, it is required that all people who hold the position receive certification in the field.

The certification or licensure procedure usually involves a written test that includes various grammar applications such as spelling and punctuation.  Court reporters must also attend occasional continuing education classes to keep up with the latest innovation and technology.

The job outlook for court reporters is currently good. Many people have said that government budget cuts could lower demand, but the number of court cases heard each year is rising. This creates a need for accurate reporting for all the court cases. Court reporters can acquire jobs outside of the courtroom transcribing closed captioning for television shows.

This is because recent changes in laws have made it required to provide this service to the hearing impaired. Lawyers and medical professionals may find their services useful as well so this career choice is generally considered very good.

Employment outside the courtroom can offer more advantages in many cases. This includes being able to have a nice office in which to work, or even work to transcribe recordings from home in many cases. This is especially true of court reporters that have high levels of experience, especially in working with stenographs and court procedures.

Court reporters usually have access to employment benefits such as retirement, paid vacation and holidays and medical insurance. These are often provided by state and local government which are generally thought to offer good benefit packages. The best benefits packages are usually given to those who work for private firms or federal courts.

Many people are concerned that court reporters will eventually phase out due to more high tech alternatives. This includes machines like digital recorders that record the entire proceeding.

Fortunately, these have failed to prove useful. One of the main reasons is that they pick up all of the sound and background noise in the courtroom, often causing certain parts of the recording to become indecipherable.

Another reason that they haven’t worked is that equipment is occasionally prone to fail, and often it isn’t until after the proceeding is over that people notice that nothing was recorded.

Court reporting is an exciting and rewarding career choice. Listening, grammar and attention to detail are all important aspects of the court reporter and there are many schools and organizations that can help you obtain certification.

If you have the skills required, consider this fast-paced career. It could be a worthwhile choice that will bring you many years of job satisfaction through income level and excitement.