How to Become a Court Reporter in Massachusetts?
Court reporters use short hand techniques, voice writing and stenography to produce transcripts of court proceedings. Court reporters in Massachusetts have several duties:
- They are responsible for oath administration
- They have to produce an accurate verbatim transcript
- They have to re-read testimonials in proceedings
- They are responsible for identifying and marking exhibits
- They have to translate statements when needed
- They are responsible for depositions of telephone/video conferences and video tapes
- They are responsible for reporting speakers’ actions and gestures
Types of court reporters in Massachusetts
There are three types of court reporters in the State of Massachusetts. These include voice writers, stenographers and electronic reporters. Voice writers are responsible for recording real time information. Stenographers record legislative sessions, committee meetings, depositions and court testimonies. They use a stenotype machine to transcribe whatever is stated in a court hearing. Electronic reporters are responsible for writing down the stenotype transcripts.
- Strong writing skills; court reporters need a good command of punctuation, vocabulary and grammar
- Strong concentration skills; court reporters need good concentration skills to help them stay attentive even in the presence of auditory distractions
- Proficiency with digital voice recording and stenography; court reporters should be able to type 225 words per minute
- Strong listening skills; court reporters need good listening skills to accurately record every word that is said during a court hearing
- Attention to detail; court reporters are required to produce error free transcripts
Steps involved in becoming a Court Reporter in Massachusetts
No state license is required to work as a court reported in Massachusetts. In order to become a court reporter in Massachusetts, you will have to follow the following steps:
Many schools in Massachusetts offer programs that can help you to start your career as a court reporter. You can earn a degree or a diploma through a training program in order to develop and polish the skills required for this job. You can specialize in any of the following:
- Stenography: It can take a lot of time (sometimes years) to learn stenographic typing. If you decide to study stenography, you will be required to learn computer software called Computer Aided Transcription (CAT). Several colleges in Massachusetts offer stenographic court reporting programs. The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) highly recommends these courses. According to the requirements set by the NCRA, you will have to achieve an average of 225 words per minute on the speed writing test; otherwise you will fail the stenograph machine training.
- Voice writing: According to the standards set by National Verbatim Reporters Association, you will have to achieve an average of 225 words per minute to pass the speed writing test.
- Electronic reporting: A court reporter training institute can teach you the specialized skills needed for electronic reporting. If you decide to study electronic reporting, you will have to learn about various digital recording formats and reporting software. The American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT) awards certifications for electronic reporting.
As per the requirements of the state of Massachusetts, court reporters have to become a notary public. In order to become a notary public, you will have to fill out and send an application to the Notary Public Department. The copy of this application form is available online. You will have to complete a Massachusetts Notary Training Course before you send out the application. Once you have received the completion certificate, you can apply to become a Notary Public. You will also need to get three residents of Massachusetts and a lawyer to endorse your application. Please note that the residents should be at least 18 years of age. The application processing time is 2-3 weeks.
The next step is to find employment as a court reporter in Massachusetts. You can check the NCRA’s employment page for Massachusetts, classified ads displayed on MCRA, online job postings and job postings with the courts (like Massachusetts Appeals Court, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Massachusetts Trial Court). You can make an account on employment websites and portals like LinkedIn where companies can view your application. Many court reporting firms are operating in Massachusetts. Court reporters can check vacancies in these firms as well. Once court reporters are hired, they usually undergo on the job training that lasts a few weeks. This training focuses on the use of certain kinds of equipment that may be used in legal proceedings.
You will need to maintain your certifications once you become a court reporter. Both the National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA) and the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) will require you to meet the continuing education requirements in order to maintain your certifications. They have a 3 year period for continuing education requirements. Your certification will be cancelled if you fail to meet the requirements.
Salary estimates of court reporters in Massachusetts
The following wage estimates of court reporters have been taken from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and represent statistics as of May 2017. The table below shows that the annual mean wage and the mean hourly wage of court reporters in Massachusetts are higher than the national estimates.
|Wages||National estimates||State estimates|
|Annual mean wage||$60,060||$76,700|
|Mean hourly wage||$28.88||$36.88|