The Job of a Court Reporter

A court reporter or legal transcriber is a person whose responsibility is to transcribe spoken speech into written form. Broadly speaking, there are three career options for those who decide to become court reporters; those are courtroom reporters, freelance reporters, and caption providers.

This article aims to provide you with an insight into what the career of a stenographer is like and an overview of the relevant education and training requirements required to enter this career.

What is Court Reporting?

A court reporter is a person who deals with transcribing oral texts, those can be meetings, speeches, legal proceedings, court testimony, etc. Usually, the rate of transcribing may exceed 230 words per minute and it is reporter’s responsibility to make sure that everything is recorded accurately and precisely as that information is often critical for the legal proceedings and administrative activities for which it supports.

This is a challenging career, which can be both exciting and rewarding. However, it requires a strong attention to detail, high concentration, and patience. Let us have a look at each career opportunity that provides the field of court reporting:

  • Court reporters. Those professionals work in courtrooms and make verbatim records of proceedings. They use stenograph machines with the help of which they transcribe every single word of the proceeding, as every single word should have an official record. Courtroom reporters work with one specific judge and they are an inseparable part of every legal team.
  • Freelance Reporters. Those are self-employed professionals who work at their own pace and who are usually stenographs. Some of them have gained their experience as courtroom reporters, but as there are many opportunities available to freelancers, they change their regular working hours to their own scheduled working hours. See also this post about Useful Apps for Paralegals
  • Captioners. Those professionals perform broadcast captioning for live TV events and webcasts the texts of which are immediately displayed on screens or computer monitors. Some of them perform CARTs (Communication Access Real-time Translation) for deaf people or the ones who have hearing problems.

Working as a court reporter is not feasible without specialist background knowledge and training, such as mastering stenotype and stenographic technology, which involves using special computer-aided transcription (CAT) software, and voice writing; acquiring transcription speeds of over 225 words per minute and resistance to stress and pressure.

Besides, a person willing to start his or her court reporter career must possess strong grammatical skills and lots of patience, as this occupation requires coordination, concentration, and study. These skills while challenging and demanding can be mastered with the help of professional and accredited education and training, if you wish via online courses, from an accredited stenography school.

How Much Does a Court Reporter Earn?

A court reporters salary can range from $35,000 to $75,000 a year approximately though there are areas where much higher salaries can be made. The figures vary depending on the type of reporting job and certification level. You should, however, not forget a rewarding possibility of a freelance job in the same field, which can bring you earnings better correlated to your efforts. Over the past decade, we’ve seen quite a few jurisdictions, like in Los Angeles, cut back their expenses and this has definitely influenced job opportunities and earning potential. Read more here.

While by no means guaranteed, most employers agree that undertaking further education and training from accredited court reporting schools yields greater employment prospects and potential earnings. Many schools will assist you in finding out what courses and programs are on offer and how these may help you to meet your career objectives and aspirations. They also offer courses so professionals can keep up with the latest technological developments.  

Typical Activities Involved in being a Court Reporter

An average day of a court reporter generally includes the following tasks:

  • Transcribing and copying;
  • Using stenotype, audio, or voice recording equipment (depending on the technique used); See here how Stenography works
  • Optimizing the work of this equipment to speed up the recording process, e.g., creating a computer dictionary;
  • Proofreading computer generated transcripts for grammar, punctuation, and spelling;
  • Formatting the records into official documents; and
  • Developing a storage and retrieval system.

Relevant Courses, Education and Training Offered by Court Reporting and Stenography Schools

A number of colleges and universities in the United States offer programs in Court Reporting. The court reporting programs duration ranges from one year to two year-courses. Thus, to become a voice writer, one year will suffice, but to become a proficient stenotypist may take up to two years or more. In addition, you may wish to prove your certification and advance in your career by attending different courses offered by various educational establishments. Read also this post about Gregg Shorthand and the Smart Pen

Academic Subjects that are Covered by Court Reporting Education

The main thing to be studied is the various levels of machine shorthand writing that’s computer-compatible. In addition, you will learn English Grammar, Vocabulary, Spelling, Advanced Punctuation, Legal Terminology, Law, Court Reporting Procedures, other different terminologies, such as Medical, Technical, etc. In addition, you will become proficient in Keyboarding, Multi-Voice Dictation,  Transcription, Real-Time writing and editing, and many others. So, be ready to work hard and effectively, as these subjects require patience, stamina, and will-power.

For those who make up their mind to become a court reporter, there is a huge variety of options available – around 130 training programs, including those offering distance learning. I hope that you found this article useful in getting a better understanding of what is involved in the career of Court Reporting.