Court Reporting: An Under-Marketed Profession

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It’s not just lawyers, judges, and paralegals who serve as the lifeblood of the justice system. They also rely on a court reporting service. For this reason, court reporters are indispensable professionals with amazing attention to detail, fast mental processing, and quick typing skills. Unfortunately, they are often unsung heroes that don’t often get mentioned. 

However, in reality, court reporters prove essential to the legal journey. If you happen to find yourself in court facing a deposition, you need a court reporting service for accurate documentation. Sadly, unlike other professions, a career in court reporting becomes underrated and under-marketed. 

Whether you’re a young adult discerning your career path or a professional looking for a career change, we hope this article sheds light on what you can do with a court reporting career. Continue reading to gauge if you are a right fit for this well-paying and mentally rewarding profession. 

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The Role of a Court Reporter

A court reporting service employs a court reporter. The latter is also sometimes dubbed as shorthand reporter or stenographer. A court reporter transcribes the testimony or spoken statement at the following:

  • Court hearing
  • Depositions
  • Trials
  • Arbitrations
  • Any official proceedings

Moreover, certified court reporters can also work outside the courtroom setting. Often, these events seek a court reporting service:

  • Media events that need closed-captioning
  • Conventions
  • Sporting events
  • Live concerts
  • Conferences

In the good old days, a court reporter used shorthand writing techniques for transcription. Thanks to technological innovation, a reporter today can now rely on a steno machine. This word processor holds a modified keyboard with 22 buttons, containing words “written” using phonics or sound.

Moreover, if you want to get into this profession, you must be able to type 225 words per minute. Higher-level certifications require the rate to bump up to 260 words per minute. Noteworthy, the accuracy of what you type must fall under 95% correctness.

The Significance of Court Reporters

Since the olden days, the court reporting service has been serving people. In the time of the Roman Empire, Julius Caesar already had scribes writing down with their quill pen as he sent people to the dungeons. The existence of the ancient Phoenician alphabet proves that this service is indispensable. After all, recording history plays a crucial part in building societies. 

Today, court reporters serve an integral part in judicial proceedings and other legal processes. They hold the responsibility of recording and preparing word-for-word transcripts. Hence, judges, attorneys, litigants, and other parties concerned rely on these documents.

Most of all, court reporters also serve the deaf community, including those who are hard-of-hearing. Thus, they provide real-time captions for movies, TV programs, etc. Furthermore, certain people hire a court reporting servicefor one-on-one assistance for school or other public settings. 

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The Steps to Become a Court Reporter

Are you interested in providing a court reporting service for your community? You need an associate’s degree or a certificate from a court reporting program to get started in this profession. Take a look at the steps below on how you can secure the right certification:

Step 1: Complete required post-secondary program

You will find programs online that train students on transcription. They offer education on voice captioning and the use of steno-masks. In general, these certificate programs can be completed within six months. However, to become a court reporter, you must perform coursework that entails around 2 years to complete. This program will include:

  • Studies on legal procedures
  • Terminologies and jargon
  • Court reporting procedures
  • Technical dictation
  • Voice writing tech
  • Steno theory

Moreover, students receive practical training so they can graduate with a speed of 225 words per minute. In addition, some schools offer freelance training work to help students gain experience. 

Step 2: Get the necessary licenses

Licensing depends on where you live. Some states require it while others don’t. To obtain your license, you may be required to become a notary public or get certified. Moreover, you also need to pass a state board exam and other qualifying exams. That being said, getting the proper licenses to help you command a better pay grade. 

Step 3: Earn voluntary certifications

You can find better job opportunities by seeking voluntary certifications from national organizations. You will find the NCRA or National Court Reporters Association and the NVRA or National Verbatim Reporters Association. Both offer examinations that can provide licensure for most states. 

For example, the NCRA offers the RPR certificate or Registered Professional Reporter. It requires passing a 3-part exam that tests skills. Higher certifications include the Registered Merit Reporter or RMR, which demands a higher typing speed at 260 words per minute. And the highest level is the Diplomate Reporter or RDR which proves an elite status. 

Meanwhile, the NVRA offers the CVR or Certified Verbatim Reporter. Similarly, candidates need to pass a written and skills test to earn the designation. 

Step 4: Seek employment

Finally, after going through studies and certifications, you can apply for government courts or other agencies. Some professionals choose to take freelance opportunities. They take on contractual work, and sometimes, even work from home. Notably, salaries in court reporting services range widely, depending on the education and certification level. 

Take note, independent contractors have varied rates based on their contractual work. Meanwhile, official court reporters working full time for the court system earn anywhere from 41,000 USD to almost 75,000 USD. Those with higher certifications command a hundred thousand dollars plus.  

Step 5: Take continuous classes

If you want to maintain your certification, the state boards and organizations require that you continue to take education courses. You can earn education credits approved by your organization’s affiliation. For example, you can take transcription seminars, conferences, punctuation workshops, and other approved events. 

The Final Wrap Up

If you have good listening skills, find it easy to understand words, and possess a keen attention to detail, you happen to be a perfect fit for this job. A court reporter’s primary responsibility includes recording spoken word swiftly and accurately. Thus, you must have a strong passion for words and good command of language skills. 

On top of that, you must possess a strong work ethic to comply with the deadlines. Apart from high-level technical performance and skills, you need discretion. Since you will be dealing with sensitive information, you must follow the guidelines set by the courts so as not to compromise any case you’re involved in. 

Robert Malcolm

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