Process to Become a Court Reporter in Pennsylvania?

Court reporters have an integral role to play in court proceedings and judicial process. It is their responsibility to create word-by-word transcript of the courtroom proceedings by using specialized equipment like stenographs, electronic devices, and voice writing gadgets.

To become a court reporter in Pennsylvania, it is important to complete postsecondary education program that trains students in developing different techniques like technical dictation, legal procedures, terminologies, and use of voice writing technology. Voluntary certifications and licensure further increase job opportunities for court reporters and earn them good placements in both private and government sectors. Court reporter training program and certification is also an option for those students who can not afford professional two to four years’ degrees.

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The Rule further goes on to name types of court reporters and they are:

  • Court reporters
  • Transcriptionists
  • Court Recorders
  • Any one employed or contracted to make the court record for use in any Pennsylvania court.

In short, a court reporter makes the legal record of court proceedings by transcribing what is being said into written text. This is done with high proficiency and accuracy. Once the proceedings have concluded, the court reporter in compliance with rules governing transcript production in Pennsylvania produces a transcript of the proceedings within a specified time mandated by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
In order to become a part of court proceedings as a court reporter in Pennsylvania, complete the steps mentioned below:

Step 1: Get Postsecondary Education

Once you have completed high school, you will have to get yourself enrolled in a program that is geared towards training court reporters. The program you choose will depend on the type of court reporter you want to become. For instance, if you want to become a stenographer, you can go for a two year long Associate’s degree.

Step 2: Get Certified

To earn your certification as a court reporter in the state of Pennsylvania, you can take any of the following options:

  • t a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) or the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) certification.
  • Get a 95% score, at least, on the state certification exam.
Step 3: Start Looking for Jobs

Once you have met the educational and certification requirements, it is time for you to start looking for jobs.

Step 4: Become a Member of the Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association (PCRA)

You will have to become a member of the Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association (PCRA). The body offers excellent support to court reporters working in the state of Pennsylvania.

Step 5: Get Continuing Education

In order to maintain your certification, you will have to get a certain amount of continuing education credits.

Should I Become a Court Reporter in Pennsylvania?

Are you interested in becoming a court reporter in Pennsylvania? Read this following details for more information.

Educational RequirementsPost-secondary education or an Associate’s degree
Experience/TrainingCertification and License
Key SkillsAttention to Detail, Assertiveness, Confidentiality, Communication Skills, Promptness, Morality, Courage, Punctuation, Grammar, and Proofreading, Listening Skills
Annual Mean Salary – US (2021)$ 65,240
Annual Mean Salary – Pennsylvania (2021)$ 58,860
Job Outlook – Pennsylvania (2018-2028)7%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021) and O*Net Online

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

To become a court reporter in Pennsylvania it takes around 18 to 24 months to complete an associate’s degree. Those who opt for a bachelor’s degree, it will them take 4 years to complete the program. It will take additional time for those who go for advanced certifications and licensure. Even the fastest path to becoming a court reporter requires minimum 18 months of training and learning the trade.

Requirements to Become a Court Reporter in Pennsylvania

Education

Creating a word-for-word transcript of official legal proceedings with accuracy and speed is a skill, which can be learned through proper training. This is why it is recommended that you enroll yourself in a court reporting program in your nearest community college or technical school. The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), one of the main certifying bodies of court reporters in the US, approves only two court reporting programs in the state of Pennsylvania.
Court reporting programs in Pennsylvania are offered both at non-degree (certificate) and degree level (Associate of Science). The former can be completed earlier than the latter but lacks depth and comprehensiveness. An Associate of Science degree in Court Reporting, however, will let you take courses in humanities, literature, social sciences, and history, in addition to core courses in court reporting. You may complete this degree in 2 years with full-time enrollment.

Certification

Getting certified in a competitive field like court reporting not only increases your chances of getting hired but may also get you a better salary package. To get certified, you may contact a national organization like the NCRA. This organization offers the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) Certification.
Another option is to get certified at the state level, where you will need to obtain 95% accuracy score on the Pennsylvania exam which includes WKT (written knowledge test) and SKT (skills knowledge test). The SKT consists of:

  • Four-voice ordinary testimony – 225 words per minute
  • Literary or jury charge – 180 words per minute
  • Two-voice medical testimony – 200 words per minute
Continuing Education

It is worth reminding you here that your certification is not for life and will expire after three years unless you complete 30 hours of continuing professional education to renew your certificate.

Get Hired

Once you are certified, it is time to look for a court reporter’s job. Joining the Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association (PCRA) is one of the best ways to get hired in the state. The association’s official website contains an updated list of vacancies, which you can make use of. Furthermore, the PCRA organizes meet and greet sessions for its old and new members where you can network with senior court reporters and get a firsthand view of the profession.

How Much Do Court Reporters Earn in Pennsylvania?

As per the information received from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021, court reporters and simultaneous captioners in Pennsylvania made $ 58,860 as annual mean salary. The national annual mean wage for court reporters and simultaneous captioners is $ 65,240

Future Job Prospects

There is a lot of potential for court reporters and owing to the big role they play in writing transcriptions of legal proceedings, they have a stable work environment. O*NET Online has projected a 7% growth for court reporters in Pennsylvania between 2018-2028. The projected employment in the field by 2028 is 1,010 employees. Even though court reporter’s learning trade and responsibilities does not change much through the years, experience earns them frequent assignments and enhanced knowledge of courtroom styles.
Below are the states with the highest employment level in court reporters and simultaneous captioners, along with the annual mean wage.

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
California1,400$ 83,720
New York1,250$ 100,270
Michigan990$ 50,900
Florida810$ 44,480
Indiana790$ 44,290

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

 

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