Guide to Become a Court Reporter in Washington
There is a reason why court reporters are called “Guardians of the Record”. They create a permanent record of everything that is spoken. This is done for the sake of reference in the future. In legal settings, verbatim transcripts prepared by court reporters are used by judges, attorneys, witnesses and juries. The record produced by court reporters is not only helpful during a trial but also during the appeal stage. Court reporters thus play a pivotal role in the justice system.
Such an important profession is therefore regulated all across the United States. Though requirements may vary from state to state, most, if not all, now require post high school education and license and/or certification to apply for a court reporter’s position.
If you live in the state of Washington and are wondering how to become a court reporter in Washington then you will have to complete the following steps:
To start working as a court reporter in Washington, you will have to get enrolled in a court reporter program. Since the state of Washington does not require a college degree to become a court reporter, aspiring candidates have to come through an accredited court reporter program. These programs are conducted by community colleges and technical institutes.
You can obtain certification in Washington in either of the following four ways:
- The state can give you a certificate on reciprocity basis if you are a licensed court reporter in another state.
- Clear the state’s court reporter program.
- Clear the National Court Reporter Association’s Registered Professional Reporter exam.
- Clear the steno mask certification exam conducted by the National Verbatim Reporters Association.
You can look for employment opportunities in your area. Finding a job might take time since there are always limited vacancies.
To maintain your Washington state certification, you will have to take continuing education credits.
Requirements to Become a Court Reporter in Washington
First up, “court reporter” is a general term used in the state for the following:
- Shorthand reporter
- Certified court reporter
- Certified shorthand reporter
- Court reporter
The good news is that the state of Washington doesn’t require a college level education to become a court reporter. So, in theory you can become a court reporter with a high school diploma or GED. However, in reality, you need to get certified (a mandatory requirement) in order to work as a court reporter in Washington. To get certified, you would need to pass the state’s court reporter exam and the skills needed to pass this exam are taught in technical institutes or community colleges.
It is therefore advised that after graduating from high school, you consider enrolling in your local community college’s court reporting program. You may enroll yourself in a court reporting certificate, diploma or associate degree program. Whichever path you choose, make sure it prepares you well to get certified as that is the only mandatory requirement to become a court reporter in Washington.
As mentioned earlier, certification is mandatory under Chapter 18.145 RCW, if you want to present yourself as a court reporter in Washington. There are four ways to get certified in Washington and they are laid down below:
- Pass the Washington State court reporter exam – To take this exam, you will need to complete and file Court Reporter Certification Application with the Washington State Department of Licensing.
- Apply using the National Court Reporters Association designation – This is for those who already hold a certification from NCRA. To avail this option, you will have to file Court Reporter Certification Application with the Washington State Department of Licensing.
- Apply using the National Stenomask Verbatim Reporters Association designation – This is for those who already hold a certification from this association. To avail this option, you will have to file Court Reporter Certification Application with the Washington State Department of Licensing.
- If you are a certified court reporter from another state then you can apply using reciprocity. To avail this option, you will have to file Court Reporter Certification Application with the Washington State Department of Licensing along with a copy of your current license and proof that you’ve passed an exam that exceeds or at least meets Washington State standards.
Once you are certified you can begin looking for a court reporter’s job in the state. You can begin your search by visiting the Washington Court Reporters Association (WCRA) website, where under “Education & Careers”, click on “Job Openings”.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Court Reporter in Washington?
It may take you two or more years to complete your post high school qualifications. Then getting certified may take another few months. The real challenge is however in finding the right job, which may take months, if not a year. All in all, you are looking for a considerable time investment in becoming a court reporter in Washington.
How Much Do Court Reporters Make in Washington?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) May 2017 figures, court reporters in Washington earned the annual mean income of $56,040.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) May 2017 figures, there were 210 court reporters working in Washington. Court reporters’ jobs nationally are expected to grow at the rate of 3 percent between 2016 and 2026.