Court Reporter

A court reporter holds a vital place in the function of our court system. It is also one of the most accessible of legal careers. With a two-year degree, a person can achieve a career that substantially impacts the legal system.

What is the job of a court reporter?
Court reporters make verbatim transcripts of legal proceedings, meetings, and speeches. Their recordings are vital to the accuracy of court records and are often used to replay important testimony. They also organize and protect the information and can perform searches for information requested by attorneys or judges. Another field for court reporters is providing close-captioned services for the deaf.

There are several methods of court reporting. The most common, the stenographic method, uses a stenotype machine. As the court reporter presses the keys, the machine records the words electronically. Another method involves electronic recording. Audio equipment records the proceedings, while the court reporter monitors the process, writes notes of the speakers and then produces a transcript from the recording. Voice reporters speak the words heard into a voice silencer—a mask that captures the spoken words, but keeps them from being heard in the courtroom. The recording is later transcribed.

What are the requirements for the job?
Court reporters usually take a course at a community college or vocational school. The training may only take a year, but usually another year is required to become proficient. A real-time stenographic reporter typically requires 33 months to be proficient. Electronic recording workers may receive on the job training.

Certificates and licenses are available for court reporters. Some states require voice writers to pass a test and receive a license. The National Verbatim Reporters Association provides three national certifications.

A court reporter must have excellent spelling, punctuation and grammar skills. The job requires outstanding listening skills and the ability to multi-task. Good organizational skills and knowledge of legal terminology is critical.

What is the work environment?
Court reporters work in courtrooms, law offices and legislatures. Some may work from home as independent contractors. Most will work a 40-hour week, but often extra hours are required for transcription.

Salaries, job advancement and outlook
The median salary levels for court reporter was about $50,000 in 2008. Independent contractors may make less and official court reporters often receive a salary as well as a price per page of transcription.

A court reporter can advance by attaining higher certification levels. They may become administrators or managers.

Employment levels are estimated to rise at 18% from 2008 to 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More demand for court reporters in legal proceedings, as well as serving the deaf, is expected.

Last Updated: 05/23/2014

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