Steps to Become a Court Reporter in California

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.

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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:

Subjects Hours of Instruction
Typing skills 45 (words per minute)
Technology 60
Apprenticeship Training 60
Resource Materials 5
Transcript Preparation 25
Medical 120
Legal 150
English 240

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?

However, all this hard work is worth the effort. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) quotes court reporters earning an annual mean wage of $79,500 in May 2017. A lot of how much you would earn in a year depends on where you live and how much you work.

Career Outlook for Court Reporters in California

The following statistics are taken from BLS and reflect the employment projection numbers for 2016-2016.

Legal Support Workers 11%
Total, All Occupations 7%
Court Reporters 3%


If you are wondering how many new court reporters jobs will be created between 2016 and 2026 then the answer is 700.

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.