Guide to Become a Court Reporter in Washington

A court reporter is responsible for creating official documentation of the legal proceedings that take place in the courtroom. It is their job to convert dialogues into written transcripts and record testimonies. Court reporters acquire professional training, especially in using specialized equipment like audio recording machines and stenography machines.

To become a court reporter in Washington or any other state, it is important to have great knowledge of the principles, practices, and techniques of shorthand reporting. Court reporters must have understanding of legal, medical, and technical terminologies and be able to work independently in a fast-paced environment.

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Should I Become a Court Reporter in Washington?

Do you want to be part of court proceedings without spending a lot on a law degree? Read this article to learn how you can do that by becoming a court reporter.

Educational RequirementsPost-secondary education or an Associate’s degree
Experience/TrainingCertification and License
Key SkillsAssertiveness, Administrative Skills, Confidentiality, Effective Communication, Unbiased Attitude, Dependable, Punctuality, English Grammar Skills, Punctuation and Proofreading, Follow Oral and Written Directions, Speed and Accuracy, Technical Skills, Work Independently,
Annual Mean Salary – US (2021)$ 65,240
Annual Mean Salary – Washington (2020)$ 85,000
Job Outlook – Washington (2018-2028)0%

Sources: O*Net Online and US Bureau of Labor Statistics
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.

Steps to Become a Court Reporter in Washington

There are standardized requirements to become a court reporter, applicable to all the states in the US.

Step 1: Determining Your Path & Obtaining Education
  • Before obtaining education as a court reporter, it is important to find out about the responsibilities involved to determine whether you are fit for the role or not.
  • After shortlisting your options, select a degree program that will help you reach your career goal.
  • The minimum education requirement for court reporters is an Associate of Applied Science in Court Reporting degree. Some people pursue Court Reporting bachelor’s degree for better opportunities.
  • The quickest entry into the field is through 18 months court reporting training program and diploma.
Step 2: Get Trained
  • There are different types of court reporting and specific training programs for each.
  • During court reporting degree program, students are trained in listening skills and are exposed to different terminologies that are used in courtroom proceedings.
  • Students are taught advanced courses in stenography and by the end of the program, they must be able to type a minimum of 180 shorthand words per minute.
  • Students also learn to use different software like Computer-Aided Transcription (CAT) and Communications Access Real-time Translation (CART) that are used during court proceedings.
Step 3: Get License & Certification
  • Just like many other states, Washington also requires court reporters to have state-issued license.
  • The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) allows court reporters the option to obtain certifications whenever they want to increase their skills-set. This helps in career growth and finding better opportunities.
Step 4: On-the-Job Training & Finding Employment
  • Owing to the nature of the job, it is recommended that court reporters start at a junior level and gain on-the-job training from experienced reporters.
  • Court reporters can work as official staff reporters for government courts as well for private law firms or corporations on as-needed basis.
  • There are many career options for court reporters as they can work as courtroom/freelance court reporters, broadcast/sports captioners, educational captioners, real-time webcasters, and real-time transcription writer.

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
Education related Requirements

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.

Certification Requirements

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.

OR

  • 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.

OR

  • 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.

OR

  • 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.
Find a Job

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 2020 figures, court reporters in Washington earned an annual mean income of $ 85,000. In comparison, the national average annual salary for court reporters in 2021 was $ 65,240. Below are the top paying states for court reporters and simultaneous captioners:

StateAnnual Mean Wage 
New York$ 100,270
California$ 83,720
Texas$ 81,460
Iowa$ 77,090
Colorado$ 76,410

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

Career Outlook

According to O*Net Online, the projected employment rate by 2028 for court reporters in Washington is 120 employees. As compared to other states it is slow and it is mostly due to the level of training required to work in a competitive environment. Court reporters’ jobs in Washington are expected to grow at the rate of 0% between 2018 and 2028. The overall national growth percentage between 2020-2030 is 3%. Below are the States with the highest employment level for court reporters and simultaneous captioners:

StateEmployment 
California1,400
New York1,250
Michigan990
Florida810
Indiana790

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

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