Starting a Career in Court Reporting

A career in court reporting is one of the most versatile and unique positions available today. Even with the highly-focused skills required for the job, few careers can match the diverse opportunities a court reporting career can present.

The Varied Jobs of Court Reporters

Whether you prefer the method of machine shorthand or voice writing, the objective of a court reporter is the same: To capture the spoken word and reproduce it verbatim in an accurate, legible format.

As the job title would suggest, some people with stenography skills spend their days with a judge in court taking down hearings and trials. However, there are many court reporters who work their entire careers and never set foot inside a courtroom.

Official court reporters are those who are employed by a state or federal court. These reporters generally have an office and other employee benefits, and they work with the same judge in the same courtroom on a daily basis. If their judge covers a circuit, these reporters will travel with the judge to the various courthouses to perform their duties.

Freelance court reporters are those who are hired by attorneys or other agencies on an as-needed basis. These types of reporters actually make up about 70 percent of the court reporter population. Hired to cover such jobs as depositions, sworn statements, and public hearings, freelancers usually work from home and travel to various job locations to provide reporting services.

Broadcast captioners are relatively new in the field of court reporting, and their numbers are growing annually. Using the same stenography skills required for official and freelance court reporters, broadcast captioners provide services to assist the deaf and hard of hearing by captioning television and another video programming.

Though they are certainly outstanding for entertainment purposes, captioning services are essential for the deaf and hard of hearing to receive news and information about possible severe weather situations and other national and local alerts. Technology has changed the world of court reporting, just like anywhere else in the professional world.

These services also benefit people who are learning to read or learning English as a second language, as well as those who are viewing programming in noisy areas, such as an airport. Captioners may work on location providing captioning services at a network office, but many of them work from home and transmit the captions through a dedicated phone line. Check out also this post about useful apps for paralegals and court reporters.

Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) services are another form of court reporting that is becoming increasingly important to members of the deaf and hard of hearing community. To satisfy the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, CART services are provided to accommodate the deaf and hard of hearing population utilizing programs and services available through state and local governments.

For students who are deaf or hard of hearing, CART services make regular classroom participation possible. The demand for CART providers continues to increase. Like freelance court reporters, CART providers are generally hired on an as-needed basis and travel to the job location where their services are required.

Getting Into a Career in Court Reporting

As different as the various specializations in the field of court reporting may be, the primary skill is the same. With a little modification in software, a freelance court reporter can easily transition into the role of a broadcast captioner or CART provider. Job opportunities are constantly available for skilled court reporters. There are court reporters without a college degree that still can make a 6-figure income in some parts of the country. Amazing, isn’t it?

The most essential element for success in any court reporting career is proper education and understanding how a stenograph works. A top-notch resource for finding the right court reporter training program for you can be easily found online. Whether you are looking for a program on a college campus or one that can be completed online, there’s lots of information out there that will help guide you to the one that best fits your particular needs. Check out the programs available, and take that first step towards a rewarding career in court reporting.