A Court Stenographer, also known as a court reporter, is skilled in using a stenography machine. Also called Steno Machine, it is used by a stenographer to make a written verbatim report of the legal proceedings. Stenographers are required to type very fast and accurately. To become a court stenographer, it is important to have a professional degree. A minimum two years’ Associate Degree is required which includes studying courses like machine technology, legal and medical terminology, dictation of a jury charge, and advanced keyboarding skills. Some students might opt for four years’ Bachelor’s Degree for better career opportunities.

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To become a stenographer in the US, you have to meet the following steps:

  • Meet the minimum educational requirements.
  • Select the right type of court reporter or a stenographer you want to become.
  • You will also need to complete an accredited stenographer/court reporting program.
  • If there are any state-specific requirements, you will have to meet them as well.
  • If the job you are applying for has some specific requirements, then make sure that you meet them as well.

What is Stenography?

Court stenographers are also known as court reporters. They work in courtrooms and record court proceedings during a trial. The role of stenographers is extremely important because they have to ensure that they record even the minutest details of a legal battle. The particular requirements to join the field can vary from state to state, whereas there may be some general requirements that are applicable all across the US. Make sure you conduct thorough research about the process if you want to become a stenographer in the US.

Should I Become a Court Stenographer?

Court stenographers have a vital role to play in court proceedings. They have excellent job potential and earn well too. If you think becoming a court stenographer might be a  good career option for you, please read the following article.

Educational RequirementsPost-secondary education or an Associate’s degree
Experience/TrainingCertification and License
Key SkillsConfidence, Punctuality, Ethics and Integrity, Administrative Skills, Good Communication, Dependable, English Grammar Skills, Vocabulary, Punctuation and Proofreading, Follow Oral and Written Directions, Speed and Precision, Technical Skills, Flexibility, Listening Skills
Annual Mean Salary – US (2021)$ 65,240 (Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners)
Job Outlook – US (2021-2031)1% (Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners)

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Outlook

As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest projections, Court Reporters are forecasted to enjoy 9% employment growth between 2019 and 2029. This rate is a lot higher than the average.

Steps to Become a Court Stenographer

Complete the Required Education

All court reporters will have to have a postsecondary nondegree award, at least. Better education will, of course, improve the chances of landing a job.

Pick the Field

Pick the required path in the field of court reporting. This is crucial as this will help define what you need to do to get the job. The main requirements of all court reporters’ programs are more or less the same. Still, some institutions segregate these programs to cater to specific licensing and certification requirements of particular programs.

Get Ready for the Program

All aspiring court reporters should complete a court reporting program that is recognized. The education candidates get might differ. Some programs might get you a certificate while others might get you an Associate’s degree.

Many court reporting programs are flexible in nature so that candidates can pick day or evening classes as per their schedule and convenience.

Complete State Requirements

Some states might require court reporters to attain a state-issued license. Most of these states will have their own examination for aspiring candidates to clear. The exam will have a written part and a skill test. Quite a few states also accept the Registered Professional Reporter designation via the National Court Reporters Association or the Certified Verbatim Reporter’s exam administered by the National Verbatim Reporters Association.

The states with no licensing requirements also ask candidates to get the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR), which is an entry-level designation for the National Court Reporters Association.

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How Long Does It Take to Become a Court Stenographer?

For anyone who enrolls in an Associate’s Degree program, it takes around 33 months to become a court stenographer. For specialized training some colleges even extend Associate’s Degree program to three years. Students are trained in using stenography machine and computer-aided transcription that covers legal and medical terminology. Licensing standards for court stenographers vary from state to state. In some states candidates have to pass an exam to get certification, whereas in others you are required to be a notary public.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Court Stenographer?

The requirements to become a court stenographer in the US are:

  • Complete the required education.
  • Select the career path.
  • Prepare for the exam.
  • Get state license, if applicable.

How Much Does a Court Stenographer Earn in the US?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners employed in the US in 2021 made $ 65,240 as mean annual income. The job outlook between 2021-31 for court stenographers is estimated to increase by 1%. As per 2021 stats made available by US Bureau of Labor Statistics, below are the top 5 highest paying states for this occupation.

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

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Skills Does a Court Stenographer Need

Stenography is a specialized profession and requires certain skills to be able to do your job properly. To become a stenographer, both soft and hard skills are required.

Soft skills commonly refer to the personality traits of a person and depend on the innate abilities of a person. Hard skills, also known as the technical skills, need to be learned and mastered with time. These skills are more job specific and help to flourish in your duties. To pursue career as a stenographer, the following skills are a must.

Stenographer Soft SkillsStenographer Hard Skills
Attention to DetailStenography Machine
Patience300 WPM
HardworkingCourtroom Proceedings
CommunicationLegal/Medical Terminologies
EfficientCART Captioning
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How To Get Job as a Stenographer

There is a lot of demand for stenographers in the US as their services are used in different fields.

  • Stenography is a skilled profession with plenty of opportunities in areas like courtrooms, CEO offices, government offices, hospitals, and politicians.
  • There are many vacancies postings on different job portals and also on government sites.
  • Before applying for any position make sure to update your resume, mentioning skills that you acquired and key accomplishments. List down qualifications that includes education and certifications obtained.
  • With strong skills and training, stenographers can move to a management position within the field. There is a lot of potential for stenographers to move across various industries, from legal to government to medical.
  • Choose an area that best suits your qualification and interest, and start applying.

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