5 Steps to Become a Court Reporter in Illinois?

In the presence of black-robed judges and pinstripe suit wearing lawyers, court reporters may be overlooked, but the fact of the matter is that they are as important as the judges and the lawyers. Court reporters capture, protect and preserve records of court proceedings and pre-trial depositions. Court reporters transcribe and create complete and accurate legal records, which are heavily relied upon during the appellate stage of a case.
If you want to play an important role in the judicial system but do not have the time or means to become a lawyer or a judge then consider becoming a court reporter. If you are a resident of Illinois who is thinking of becoming a court reporter then the good news is that Illinois is the fifth biggest employer of court reporters in the US. Court reporters here make more than what they make in many other states. In order to work as a court reporter in the state of Illinois, you need to complete the following steps:

Step 1: Get the Required Education

To become a court reporter in Illinois, you should have a high school diploma or a GED at least. This is the minimum educational requirement to work as a court reporter all across the US.

Step 2: Attend a Court Reporting Program

Many community colleges and technical institutes across the US offer certified court reporting programs. Attending one of these court reporting programs is extremely beneficial for aspiring candidates. Make sure that the program is accredited by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA).

Step 3: Get State Certification

The work as a court reporter in Illinois, you will have to clear a Certified Shorthand Reporter exam that is mandated by the state. The test is conducted thrice a year and you have to pay a fee to sit for it.

Step 4: Clear a Proficiency Exam

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations also conducts at proficiency exam and you will have to clear that test to become a court reporter in Illinois.

Step 5: Get Licensed

Most states in the US make it mandatory for the court reporters to get licensure from a professional organization such as the National Court Reporters Association, the American Association of Electronics and Transcribers, and the National Verbatim Reporters Association.

How to Become a Court Reporter in Illinois
How to Become a Court Reporter in Illinois

Requirements to Become a Court Reporter in Illinois

The State of Illinois mandates that all court reporters meet the following minimum qualifications:

  • Be a high school graduate or its equivalent
  • Be of good moral character; free of any felony convictions
  • Be prepared through college courses to pass a court reporter examination

In order to become a certified shorthand reporter (CSR) in Illinois, you will need to pass one of the three exams. One of these exams is sponsored by the Certified Shorthand Reporters Board (CSRB), while the other two exams are sponsored by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA).

Three Exams

As mentioned above, you will need to pass one of the following three to practice as a court reporter in Illinois:

  • Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) Exam
  • Registered Merit Reporter (RMR) Exam
  • The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) Exam

Passing either one of these will require being formally trained in an educational setting. One of the best ways of going about preparing for these exams is to enroll in an Associate of Applied Science degree in Court Reporting.

Education

A 2-year program offered by community colleges, this degree focuses on acquiring proficiency in legal, medical and technical terminology. It will also enhance your listening and concentration skills; the ability to accurately apply English language, including its grammar principles, spellings and punctuation; the ability to transcribe at a specific speed; working knowledge of technologies and equipment commonly used in the court reporting profession and a solid understanding of the NCRA Code of Professional Ethics.

Pass the Exam& Get Certified

Once you have graduated, you are now ready to take one of the above mentioned exams. Once you have passed this exam, you now meet the court reporter license requirements in the state. This means that you are now ready to apply for certification with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).

Look for a Job

Once you are certified, it is time to look for your dream job. You can visit your local courthouse and ask the customer service representative for relevant job vacancies. You can also join the Illinois Court Reporters Association (ILCRA). As a member you will have access to their conventions and other social events where you can meet with your seniors and get an inside view of the profession in the state. If you are looking for networking and a support group, joining ILCRA is your best bet.

How Much Do Court Reporters Earn in Illinois?

The following statistics are taken from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and O*NET OnLine:

State Employment Annual Mean Wage Percent Change Projected Annual Job Openings
Illinois 830 $62,640 +3% 80

As can be seen, this field will experience slow to moderate growth in Illinois from 2016 to 2026. Therefore, you should be patient during the job hunt stage as there will be stiff competition for each vacancy. However, those candidates who possess sterling credentials will beat the competition. So, make sure that you go well beyond fulfilling the bare minimum requirements for becoming a court reporter in Illinois.