We know: All About Becoming a Court Reporter

What do court reporters do?

Court reporters typically take verbatim reports of speeches, conversations, legal proceedings, meetings, and other events when written accounts of spoken words are necessary for correspondence, records, or legal proof.

In addition, many court reporters assist judges and trial attorneys in a variety of ways, such as organizing and searching for information in the official record or making suggestions to judges and attorneys regarding courtroom administration and procedure.

What methods do court reporters use?

There are two main methods of court reporting:

  • Stenotyping and voice writing. Using a stenotype machine, stenotypists document all statements made in official proceedings. The machine allows them to press multiple keys at a time to record combinations of letters representing sounds, words, or phrases.
  • Using the voice-writing method, a court reporter speaks directly into a stenomask-a hand-held mask containing a microphone with a voice silencer. Some voice writers produce a transcript in real time, using computer speech recognition technology. Other voice writers prefer to translate their voice files after the proceeding is over. Speech recognition technology is allowing voice writers to pursue not only court reporting careers, but also careers as closed captioners, CART reporters and Internet streaming caption providers.

What kind of education or training do court reporters need?

It usually takes less than a year to become a voice writer. In contrast, the average length of time it takes to become a stenotypist is 33 months.

Training is offered by about 160 post secondary vocational and technical schools and colleges. The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) has approved about 82 programs, all of which offer courses in stenotype computer-aided transcription and real time reporting.

Some States require court reporters to be notary publics. Others require the certified court reporter (CCR) designation, for which a reporter must pass a State certification test administered by a board of examiners.

How much do court reporters make?

Court reporters had median annual earnings of $41,550 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $29,770 and $55,360. The lowest paid 10 percent earned less than $23,120, and the highest paid 10 percent earned more than $73,440. Median annual earnings in 2002 were $40,720 for court reporters working in local government.

What are the employment opportunities for court reporters?

According to the government's Occupational Outlook Handbook, Court reporters held about 18,000 jobs in 2002. About 60 percent worked for State and local governments. Most of the remaining wage and salary workers worked for court reporting agencies. Eleven percent of court reporters were self-employed.

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