How to Become a Court Reporter in California

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California has a huge demand for court reporters.

You can expect higher-than-average pay and plenty of job security when you become a court reporter in the Golden State.

One reason for this high demand is that California has a large population.

The superior court in California hears 5 million dispositions each year.

Court reporters are responsible for transcribing court proceedings in real-time, which provides a written record of everything that is said.

How to Become a Court Reporter in California

You’ll need to complete several steps to become a court reporter in California.

These steps include:

  1. Complete a Court Reporter Education Program
  2. Apply for State Tests
  3. Pass the California Dictation and Transcription Exam
  4. Pass the California Written Exams
  5. Complete a Court Reporter License Application

Complete a Court Reporter Education Program

The Court Reporters Board of California oversees court reporter education and certification.

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An education program must meet certain requirements to be certified.

The requirements include:

  • English and Vocabulary 240
  •  Medical 120
  • Legal 150
  • Transcript procedures 25
  • Apprenticeship 60
  • Technology 60
  • Resource materials

You’ll need a total of 660 academic hours, and 2230 machine shorthand and transcription hours.

Apply to Take the State Tests

The next step to becoming a court reporter in California is to apply to take the state exams.

You’ll need to complete the application.

You’ll also provide proof that you meet the requirements to take the test.

An accredited court reporter program is one way to meet the requirements.

Previous experience as a court reporter can also qualify you for the test.

Lastly, a national certification through the NVRA or NCRA is another way to meet testing requirements.

You’ll need to include a $40 registration fee and a $25 fee for each exam you plan to take.

Pass the California Dictation and Transcription Exam

Once you’ve mailed in your application, you’ll receive a final notice of examination letter.

This letter will include the time and location for your dictation and transcription exam.

This exam includes four voice dictations from a real court proceeding or deposition.

You’ll need to transcribe at 200 words per minute for 12 to 13 minutes.

You’ll have 3 hours to transcribe the material.

You’ll need to bring your stenotype machine, tripod, and two forms of photo I.D.

Pass the California Written Exams

You’ll need to pass two written examinations, an English exam, and a professional exam.

You’ll take these tests on a computer at a testing center.

You can sign up to take the tests with PSI, which is a third-party testing service.

You’ll have 120 minutes to take each test.

Complete a Court Reporter License Application

Once you’ve passed the state examinations, you can complete the court reporter license application.

You’ll need to apply, along with an application fee of $225.

Court Reporter Schools in California

Taft College Taft College

Taft College offers an Associate of Science in Court Reporting.

To get your degree, you’ll need a C or better in each court reporting course.

You must take 39-49 general education credits, and 46 credits in court reporting.

You will need an overall GPA of 2.0 or better.

You are required to type shorthand at least 200 WPM and have typing skills of 45 words per minute.

Courses you’ll take include Machine Shorthand Speed Building, Beginning Machine Shorthand Theory and Lab, Introduction to Criminal Justice, Legal Terminology, and Proofreading for the Court Reporter.

Once you’ve completed your degree, you will be prepared to take the California certification exams.

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Cypress College Cypress College

Cypress College offers a few options for becoming a court reporter.

You can choose an Associate in Science Degree in Court Reporting, or a Court Reporting Certificate.

You’ll spend 2.5 years to earn your associate degree as a court reporter.

Once you’ve completed the program, you are prepared to take both the California exams and nationwide exams.

The school offers a variety of labs and training equipment.

You can also participate in one of eight internships, so you’ll have real-world experience.

The internship is 60 hours.

Courses start several times throughout the year.

You can choose from day or evening classes, so this program can fit into your schedule.

To get your associate’s degree, you’ll need a minimum of 60 credit hours.

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West Valley College West Valley College

West Valley College offers an intensive court reporting program.

Most students take 3 to 4 years to complete the program.

You’ll need to spend about 5 hours a day practicing on your steno machine, in addition to academic work.

West Valley offers classes on campus and online through a synchronous learning model.

This means you’ll need to be on Zoom at the correct time if you choose online classes.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to renew my court reporter license in California?


You’ll need to renew your license each year.

You’ll send in an application that asks if you’ve received any criminal convictions in the last year, and a renewal fee of $225.

Is it hard to become a court reporter in California?

California’s need for court reporters makes it a lucrative career, but it can be hard to become a court reporter.

You’ll need to learn stenotype, type very fast, and have a great accuracy rate.

Are court reporters in demand in California?

In 2023, California employed 1,200 court reporters.

This year, they will need another 650 court reporters to meet their minimum capacity requirements.

74% of courts in California have court reporter positions open.

New applications have fallen by 62%, so the demand is likely to grow even larger in the next few years.

Court Reporter Salary Information

California is one of the top states for court reporters.

You can expect to earn an average of $68,892.

Salaries range from $49,707 to $90,170.

How much you earn can vary, based on your position, location, education, certifications, and job experience.

Annual Salary Range:
Item Percent

Average Salary in California

City Name Salary
Los Angeles $70,122
San Diego $67,403
San Jose $78,385
San Francisco $78,073
Long Beach $69,641
Fresno $62,583
Sacramento $67,636
Oakland $76,199
Santa Ana $69,704
Anaheim $69,797

Regional Salary

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Bakersfield, CA40$97,110$46.69$112,410$60,070
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA640$89,800$43.17$132,000$36,460
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA30$98,410$47.31$130,780$62,080
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA110$85,320$41.02$109,060$47,720
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA190$94,230$45.3$127,270$52,740
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA100$99,830$47.99$106,290$72,110
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA460$119,600$57.5$144,570$83,220
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA70$112,570$54.12$146,480$42,440
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA30$98,650$47.43$112,830$35,870
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA60$96,640$46.46$121,600$78,490
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners, OCC Code 27-3092, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

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Chelsea Wilson

About Chelsea Wilson

Chelsea Wilson is the Community Relations Manager for Washington University School of Law’s distance learning LLM degree program, which provides foreign trained attorneys with the opportunity to earn a Master of Laws degree from a top-tier American university from anywhere in the world.

One Response to How to Become a Court Reporter in California

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    Ian Robson #

    It’s refreshing to see detailed information specific to California’s requirements. Knowing the state’s nuances is key when embarking on a legal career path.

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