Not all court reporters have permanent employment with the court system or other organizations. Most court reporters start their careers independently where they explore how the system works and learn professional skills like depositions, real-time transcribing, making drafts, and attending hearings and arbitrations. Freelance court reporters have a lot of freedom to choose assignments and they get opportunities to work in different courts and areas.

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Should I Become a Freelance Court Reporter

If you are self-motivated and detail-oriented then freelance court reporting is for you. Considering the demand for court reporting services, this might be the right time to drive your own success and work on your own terms. There are many opportunities out there for freelance court reporters but the main responsibilities include:

  • Attending legal proceedings and capturing complete and accurate details.
  • Securing legal transcript of courtroom proceedings.
  • Preparing witnesses testimonies and depositions.


Career Requirements

Educational RequirementsPostsecondary nondegree award
Area of StudyPreparing transcripts, legal procedures, grammar, computer aided transcription
Licensure/CertificationCertification and License is mandatory
Experience/TrainingShort-term on-the-job training
Key SkillsListening skills, good concentration, detail-oriented, fast typing, good grammar, punctuation, and vocabulary, stenography
Annual Mean Salary – US (2021)$ 65,240 per year
Job Outlook – US (2021 – 2031)1%

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

Steps to Become a Freelance Court Reporter

According to the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), only around 27% of the court reporters in the US actually work in courts. Rest are mostly freelance court reporters who are hired by legal firms and agencies to report legal proceedings, prepare witness statements, and develop depositions. Court reporter jobs generally require at least two years of college-level education. In most states a license is needed to start practicing professionally. Following steps are required to become a freelance court reporter.

Step 1:Getting Education
  • Before setting your educational goals, it is important to determine which path within the field of court reporting you plan to choose. Once you have decided your area of interest, the next step is to select the right degree program.
  • Most court reporting or legal system programs cover the same course outline for students but depending on the degree level – associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree, some programs prepare students for specific reporting areas.
  • Once the degree is completed, graduates should be able to achieve the minimum standard of skills for mechanical shorthand, meeting the standards set by NCRA and NVRA.
  • Maintaining literary at 180 words per minute, jury load at 200 words per minute, and testimonial or Q&As at 225 words per minute.
Step 2: Licensing and Certification
  • Different states might have different requirements, but especially for freelance court reporters it is important to have certification. This is a requirement by most employers.
  • Make sure to check the requirements in your state as some areas require court reporters to be Notaries Public besides being Certified Court Reporters (CCR).
  • Additional certification by Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) is also awarded by NCRA to those reporters who pass the 4-part exam.
Step 3: Court Reporting Internship & Experience
  • While internship is not a requirement to start working as a freelance court reporter but it will help build your portfolio and hone skills.
  • Getting guidance from an experienced mentor will add to your qualifications and help you do your job well.
  • You can use this opportunity to build on technical skills like proper use of legal jargons and vocabulary, transcription procedure, investigation, laws and courtroom procedures, and technology.
Step 4: Find Freelance Assignments
  • Develop a detailed portfolio, highlighting your skills and qualifications, and mentioning the services you will be providing.
  • Place your resume on online job platforms. Most recruiters will find you through the services you have mentioned on your resume.
  • Working freelance gives a lot of opportunity to find jobs that match your specific skill-set. Work the way you want and set up a fee that is at par with the market.

Top Skills for a Freelance Court Reporter

Court reporters play a crucial role in recording legal proceedings, which is why to pursue a dynamic career they need to have certain skills.

  • Concentration – Be able to focus and concentrate for longer periods.
  • Detail-Oriented – Produce legal records and transcriptions that are error free
  • Good Writing Skills – Command over grammar, language (legal & medical terminologies), punctuation, and editing.
  • Listening Skills – Be able to capture each and every word being said in the courtroom.
  • Confidentiality – Maintaining professionalism and confidentiality related to details about people’s lives.
  • Preparing Legal Documents.
  • Use of latest technology and equipment.
  • CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation).

Freelance Court Reporter Jobs

Once you enter the field of freelance court reporting, it will be a start of a rewarding career and a secure future. Freelance court reporters use digital equipment that allows them to work in different settings. Below are some of the freelance court reporting jobs.

  • Legal Transcriber.
  • Court Research Associate.
  • Judicial Court Reporter.
  • Political Court Reporter.
  • Steno Court Reporter.
  • Jury Specialist.
  • Roving Court Reporter.
  • Court Technology Educator.
  • Tribal Court Reporter.

The options are plenty – just conduct thorough research to see which job matches your criteria. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021, below are the industries that offer the highest employment level for Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners:

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

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

What Is the Career Outlook of Freelance Court Reporters in the US?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of court reporters is projected to grow by 1% between 2021 to 2031. Even though its slower than the average as compared to the other occupations, there are around 12,300 projected openings for court reporters for the same time period. Below are the states with the highest employment level in court reporters and simultaneous captioners:

New York1,250

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

Average Salary for a Freelance Court Reporter

Freelance court reporters are paid for their time and sometimes they also sell their transcripts per page for an additional price. Compared to full-time employed court reporters, freelance reporters have more flexibility in setting their work schedules and acquire extra work. As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, court reporters and simultaneous captioners earned an average annual salary of $ 65,240 in 2021. Below are the top paying states for court reporters and simultaneous captioners in the US.

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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)