Should I Become a Court Reporter in California?

In the state of California, court reporters are very well paid. If you want to learn how to become one, read this piece below.

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EducationPostsecondary certification is required. Associate’s degree is beneficial.
Area of StudyCourt reporting, Stenography, Typewriting, etc.
Experience/TrainingOn-the-job training is mandatory
Key SkillsGreat concentration, Attention to Detail, Impartial, etc.
Annual Mean Salary – US (2020)$66,710 (Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners)
Annual Mean Salary – California (2020)$89,120 (Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners)
Job Outlook – California(2018-2028)0% (Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners)

Court reporters create word-for-word transcriptions at legal proceedings such as trials and depositions. They are so integral to the legal system that in some cases, legal proceeding cannot be conducted in their absence. However, not all court reporters work in legal settings. There are different types of court reporters employed all over the US.

If you are thinking of entering this field then you must know that there is no single set of requirements to fulfill. What it will take for you to become a court reporter would largely depend upon your state of employment. If you want to become a court reporter in California, you will have to complete the following steps:

Step 1: Meet the Educational Requirements

To work as a court reporter in the state of California, you will need to have a high school diploma at least or a GED certificate. This is a mandatory requirement to get into a court reporting program.

Step 2: Pass a Court Reporting Program

With a high school diploma, you can enroll yourself in an NCRA accredited court reporting program. These programs develop skills that will help you in clearing the licensing exam.

Step 3: Get Certification

You will also have to get a court reporters certificate from the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). This exam will prepare you for licensure and test your typing skills as well.

Step 4: Get Your State License

To work as a court reporter, you need a state-issued license. In the state of California, you will have to pass an exam comprising of three parts. You will have demonstrate a typing speed of 200 words per minute with an accuracy of 97.5%.

Step 5: Take Continuing Education

You will also have to take continuing education credits in order to maintain your licensure.

How to Become a Court Reporter in California
How to Become a Court Reporter in California

Requirements to Become a Court Reporter in California

Court reporters are also known as certified shorthand reporters (CSRs) in California. If you want to become a licensed CSR, then finish your high school or GED and enroll in a state-approved court reporting school. Once you are done, take the three-part licensing exam. Or you can take the exam directly if you are moving to California from another state and hold a valid CSR license. You can also bypass attending the court reporting school requirement and taking the exam directly if you have appropriate work experience. In any case, you will need to take the three-part licensing exam to work as a court reporter in California.

Courses and Subjects

The state-approved court reporting schools generally offer self-paced curriculum. Therefore, a highly motivated individual, who is also self-disciplined, is the ideal candidate for this program. The program is skills-based that requires academic homework as well. A special emphasis is placed on practice building speed levels required to pass the licensing exam. If you want to work as a licensed CSR in California, be mindful of the fact that you must be able to type 200 words per minute with a 97.5 percent accuracy rate.

The following is a glimpse of subjects and their instruction hours:

SubjectsHours of Instruction
Typing skills45 (words per minute)
Apprenticeship Training60
Resource Materials5
Transcript Preparation25

Total Academic hours – 660

Approximate machine hours – 2,300

How Long Does It Take to Become a Court Reporter in California?

State-approved court reporting schools usually take three to four years to graduate from. This is in addition to graduating from a high school or obtaining GED. Factor in the time it will take you to take the exam. All in all, you are looking at minimum 4 years of post-high school education and training, in order to work as a court reporter in California.

How Much Does a Court Reporter Make in California?

As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, California is a good place to work for court reporters. The annual mean salary of court reporters in California in 2020 was $89,120. This is the second highest income figure among all US states, with only New York above California with a mean annual salary of $96,640.

Career Outlook for Court Reporters in California

O*Net Online predicts a 0% growth in employment opportunities for court reporters and simultaneous captioners in California from 2018 and 2028.

Life in California

In addition to becoming a CSR in a legal or other setting, the state of California allows licensed CSRs to run their own firms or become independent contractors. With this employment option come flexible work hours as transcription can be performed at home.

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