How to Get a Court Reporter Certification

At first glance, they may not look as important as judges, jury members, attorneys and witnesses, but the court reporters are every bit as integral to the legal system as judges, juries, attorneys and witnesses. The importance of the court reporter can be gauged from this fact that in most cases it is illegal to proceed in court without a court reporter present.

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How to Become a Court Reporter
How to Become a Court Reporter

What Does a Court Reporter Do?

Generally speaking, court reporters create word-for-word transcriptions at trials and other legal proceedings like depositions. In addition to providing services in courtrooms, court reporters may also provide captioning for TV and real time translation for hearing-impaired individuals in classrooms, business meetings and other public events.

If you are looking for specific information on what does a court reporter do, here is a list of some of the typical duties they perform:

  • They attend legal proceedings and other events that require written transcripts
  • Provide real-time translation in classes and other public forums for hearing-impaired
  • Transcribe movie or TV dialogues for hearing-impaired viewers
  • Provide copies of recordings and transcripts to the courts, lawyers and litigating parties
  • Review their notes, including any technical terminology and names of speakers
  • They also ask speakers to clarify unclear or inaudible testimony or statements
  • A judge may request them to read or play a portion or all of the proceedings
  • Report speakers’ identifications, actions and gestures
  • They perform the above mentioned duties with the help of specialized equipment, including covered microphones, audio and video recording devices, and stenography machines

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Salaries & Job Growth

According to the projection made by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, court reporters and simultaneous captioners employed in the United States will experience a job growth of 1% from 2021 to 2031. This growth rate is said to be lower than the average job rate of all other occupations in the US. On the other hand, the annual mean pay for these professionals in 2021 was $ 65,240. This translates to a per hour salary of $ 31.36.

Court Reporters$65,240
Legal Support Workers$73,000
Total, all Occupations$45,760

If you are wondering who pays the most to court reporters, then here’s a list of top employers in a descending order:

  • State governments, not including hospitals and educational institutions
  • Local governments, not including hospitals and educational institutions
  • Business support services

Your interest in court reporting aside, you should be mindful of the fact that this field is not growing as fast as other fields. The following statistics are again taken from the BLS and should give you a clearer picture. These statistics are predictive of the period 2021 to 2031.

Legal Support Workers11%
Total, all Occupations5%
Court Reporters1%

What does this mean? In layman terms, there will be 300 new jobs created in this field from 2021 to 2031

Steps to Become a Court Reporter

Despite slow growth in this field, the field offers bright prospects. You need to complete the following steps in becoming a court reporter:

Step 1:

Finish your high school and enroll in your local community college’s postsecondary certificate program for court reporters or an associate degree in court reporting. Certificate programs may be offered at your local technical institutes as well.

Step 2:

Complete your chosen course of study and get licensed or certified by a professional association.

Degrees, Certifications &Licenses

Associate of Applied Science degree in Court Reporting – This is an undergraduate degree, which takes approximately 2 years to complete. You will need to earn a certain number of credit hours to complete this degree.

The following is a list of courses typically offered in an Associate of Applied Science degree in Court Reporting:

  • English grammar and phonetics
  • Legal terminology
  • Legal procedures

An integral part of this degree is to teach students how to prepare transcripts with the help of different transcription machines. Students are encouraged to improve their speed and accuracy.

Court reporters licensing requirements vary by state but most states require court reporters (especially those who work in legal settings) to be licensed or certified by a professional body. The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) offers a variety of certifications for court reporters, real-time translation providers and broadcast captioners.

Who Should Think of Becoming a Court Reporter?

If you have the following qualities, you should think of pursuing a career in this field:

Concentration –

You should be able to concentrate for long periods, if you want to have a successful career as a court reporter. At all times, court reporters must be focused on the dialogue they are recording, even if there are auditory distractions.

Writing Skills –

Court reporters must have a strong command of English grammar, punctuation and vocabulary.

Listening Skills –

Court reporters must capture every word said by the speakers and therefore must have exceptional listening skills.

Detail Oriented –

A court reporter’s work must be error-free since transcriptions prepared by them serve as legal records.

What Happens When You Qualify as a Court Reporter?

Now that you are either licensed or certified as a court reporter and looking for work, here are the top 5 states that employ court reporters in a descending order. Ideally, you should read this information before qualifying as a court reporter since licensing requirements may vary from state to state.

  • Texas
  • New York
  • Florida
  • Pennsylvania
  • Illinois

In case, you are looking for the top paying states, here they are in a descending order:

  • New York
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Massachusetts
  • Texas
Employment Tip:

If you have qualified as a court reporter and don’t have a location preference then concentrate on looking for jobs in Texas or New York. These states not only pay more but also hire a large number of court reporters. So your chances of finding a job in these two states are higher than finding a court reporting job anywhere else.

Are Court Reporters Still In Demand?

The demand for court reporters varies from state to state. Some states have high job projections for court reporters, while some are on the lower side. Below are the states with the highest employment level for Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners:

New York1,250

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021), the job projections between 2021 and 2031 vary from state to state. The national growth rate is projected to be 1% between the said period.

Below are the top paying states for court reporters and simultaneous captioners in the US

StateAnnual Mean Wage 
New York$ 100,270
California$ 83,720
Texas$ 81,460
Iowa$ 77,090
Colorado$ 76,410

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021)

What Are The Qualifications To Be A Court Reporter?

There are different qualifications to become a court reporter in different US states. However, there are certain requirements that are more or less the same in every US state. To work as a court reporter in the US, you need postsecondary education as the minimum educational requirement. If you get a college degree, then you enhance your job prospects even further.
You will also need a state certification or a certification from a professional organization like the NCRA or the NVRA. The certification requirements vary from state to state so, make sure you know the kind of court reporter you want to become so, that you can get the correct certification.

What types of job opportunities and salary ranges are there for me in the court reporting sector?

Court reporters have a crucial role to play in legal proceedings and are of utmost importance to the justice system. There are many job opportunities for court reporters in the US as they can work in courts and legislation, as well as be self-employed and work as freelancers. Court reporters can find jobs as:

  • Broadcast Captioners
  • CART Reporters
  • Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) providers
  • Court Recording Monitors
  • Court Stenographers
  • Court Transcribers
  • Deposition Reporter
  • Stenocaptioners
  • Voice Writing Reporters

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021, the salary range for court reporters in different sectors is as follows:

IndustryEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Local Government, excluding schools and hospitals (OEWS Designation)4,120$ 67,880
State Government, excluding schools and hospitals (OEWS Designation)4,020$ 76,320
Business Support Services3,600$ 51,540
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools110$ 86,680
Federal Executive Branch (OEWS Designation)40$ 64,680
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To work as a court reporter, do I need a formal degree?

To start working as a court reporter in the US, the minimum requirement is an associate’s degree. A two-year degree program, it trains students in machine shorthand writing, proficiency in writing legal, medical, and technical terminologies, and expertise in the required speed. Another fast-track way to enter the field of court reporting is to earn multiple certifications. This usually takes around one to two years. There are many community colleges that offer certification programs.