Requirements to Become a Court Reporter
Court reporters are said to have the ringside seats to all the legal action. Sitting in the midst of judges, lawyers, witnesses and juries, the court reporters are an integral part of the justice system. Their transcriptions are legal documents and records, relied upon by the judges and juries to reach a verdict. Court reporting is therefore a regulated profession which requires education, licensing or certification and training.
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If you are interested in becoming a court reporter then you will need to fulfill the following:
- Educational requirements
- Licensing/certification requirements
- On-the-job training requirements
There are no age and citizenship requirements as such. In order to become a court reporter, you will need some post-high school education, so it is assumed that you will be at least 18 years of age. You do not need to be a US citizen to become a court reporter but then this may vary depending upon the nature of your employment.
Steps to Become a Court Reporter in the US
To work as a court reporter in the US, you have to meet the following steps
- Obtain necessary education.
- Get professionally certified.
- Complete state certification requirement, if any.
- Complete the job requirements.
- Apply for the job.
- Maintain certification via continuing education credits.
If you want to become a court reporter then finish your high school diploma or GED and enroll in a court reporting certificate program in your local community college. While some may enter this field with an associate’s degree in court reporting, a certificate is the minimum that is required for entry level occupations.
However, before you enroll in the certificate program, make sure that it is accredited by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). The main learning objective of such certificate program is to prepare you for licensing exams and typing-speed tests that may be required by your state and employer.
In addition to community colleges, these certificate programs are also offered at local technical institutes. Their duration will however vary. In any case, it will take you more than a year to finish the certificate in court reporting. Just remember, there is no defined time period for becoming a court reporter.
Some of the courses that you may be taught during the course of the program may be titled:
- Transcript Production
- Medical Terminology and Anatomy
- Legal Terminology
- Court Reporting Procedures, Ethics and Technology
- English Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling and Vocabulary
An internship may also be a part of your certificate program. This aspect of the program provides students with an ideal opportunity to apply in practice what they have learned in the classroom. Furthermore, it will provide them with networking opportunities, making friendships with court reporters.
Once you have obtained your certificate in court reporting in accordance with the guidelines set by the NCRA, it is time for you to get licensed or certified.
Licensing and Certification Requirements
While licensing requirements vary from state to state, it is likely that your state will require you to get licensed especially if you are working in the legal settings. One way of finding out whether your state requires court reporters to be licensed or not is to contact your state’s relevant department. You can also walk into your county’s courthouse and ask the customer service representative for this information.
If your state requires court reporters to be certified in lieu of license, then visit NCRA’s official website and obtain all the information on how to get certified in court reporting. NCRA offers a variety of certification programs and eligibility requirements will vary from certification to certification. Generally, in order to get certified by NCRA, you will need to pass the test(s), including written and typing speed tests.
Once you are certified, you will need to enroll in continuing education classes to keep your certification valid.
Salary of US Court Reporters
Court reporters in the US made $61,660 as mean annual salary in the US in the year 2020, which amounted to an hourly income of $29.64. Court reporters will enjoy 3% growth in employment opportunities in the US between 2020 – 2030. This data has been taken from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Following is the list of the five highest paying states for court reporters in the US in 2020.
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
Once you are done getting licensed or certified, look for the court reporter’s position. The jobs in this field are expected to grow at the rate of 3% from 2016 to 2026. Therefore, it may take you sometime before landing that ideal job.
Once you are hired, it is likely that your employer will arrange an on-the-job training program for you. It is likely to last a few weeks, though there is no set guideline on training program’s duration. You will be taught advanced medical and legal terminology, in addition to operating specific types of equipment in your day to day routine.