How to Become a Court Reporter in Iowa

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What is a Court Reporter?

Iowa court reporters are certified legal professionals who have been trained to record and transcribe spoken words from legal proceedings, trials, depositions, and administrative hearings.

Also known as stenotype operators and shorthand reporters, these well-trained professionals play an integral role in the outcomes of the American criminal justice system.

If you have a passion for the law and are looking for an easy way to enter the field, becoming a certified court reporter could be the right career for you!

Learn more about how to become a certified court reporter in our comprehensive guide below.

How to Become A Court Reporter in Iowa Step-by-Step

The state of Iowa doesn’t currently require its court reporters to hold an occupational license to practice.

However, most employers like criminal courts, governments, corporations, and law offices will require new reporters to complete an NCRA certification to show competency.

Prospective court reporters in Iowa will need to complete the following steps to begin their new careers.

Complete High School or an Equivalent

The first step on the pathway to becoming a certified court reporter in Iowa is to complete your high school education.

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Certified court reporter training programs require new applicants to show proof in the form of a high school diploma or certificate of completion like a GED.

Enroll in an NCRA-Approved Court Reporter Training Program

US-based employers that hire court reporters require them to complete an NCRA-approved training program to demonstrate their skills and competency at accurately transcribing the spoken word according to industry standards.

NCRA-approved programs offer certificate, associate, and bachelor’s level degrees in court reporting and related legal fields.

Practice Your Transcription and Shorthand Reporting Skills

Taking part in on-the-job training is one of the best ways to boost your transcription speed and prepare for passing the NCRA certification exam.

NCRA-based training programs have an immersive component where students partner with local agencies for internships and on-the-job training.

Pass the NCRA Exam

Once you have completed an approved program, the next step is to take the NCRA exam and gain certification.

Students will be required to complete a written skills test and a timed typing test to pass the exam.

Learn more about the required application fees, testing dates, and passing score requirements when taking the NCRA by visiting the national website.

Join the Iowa Court Reporters Association

New reporters who have completed certification can join the Iowa Court Reporters Association to get more information on optional court reporter licensing and occupational support for working transcriptionists.

The Iowa Court Reporters Association offers information on career-related resources and testing requirements for licensing and advanced certifications.

Find Employment

Now that you’ve completed all the steps and are officially certified, the next step is to find employment in the field!

Many students seek employment while still taking classes and apply to locations where they practice on-the-job training.

If you need help finding a court reporter job in Iowa, talk to your program director about job placement assistance and career services.

Find out more about job openings and careers via the Iowa Courts, Iowa Court Reporters Association, and the NCRA.

Maintain Your Certification

Employers and the NCRA require active transcriptionists, captioners, and court reporters to maintain their certifications by participating in approved continuing education courses.

Learn more about which activities and programs qualify for CE credits on the NCRA website.

Court Reporter Schools in Iowa

Des Moines Area Community CollegeDes Moines Area Community College

About the School

Des Moines Area Community College operates the only year-round Realtime Court Reporting and Captioning Program approved by the NCRA in Iowa.

Their comprehensive program meets in the fall and spring.

The AAS Realtime Reporter program teaches students high-speed reporting skills.

Students learn how to transcribe legal proceedings, special events, and other administrative proceedings by creating verbatim transcripts.

Prospective reporters who complete the program at DMACC will earn an Associate of Applied Sciences degree and become eligible to take the NCRA exam as the last step to certification.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Speed Development
  • Legal Terminology
  • Machine Shorthand Theory I and II
  • Realtime Court Reporting Procedures
  • Realtime Punctuation and Proofreading
  • Realtime Medical Terminology
  • Single Voice Speed Development

Contact Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a license to work as a court reporter in Iowa?


Iowa court reporters are not required to have an occupational license to work as transcriptionists in the field.

However, most employers and industry professionals do require Iowa court reporters to complete NCRA certification as proof of competency.

How can I become a certified court reporter in Iowa?

Become a certified court reporter in Iowa by enrolling in an NCRA-approved program that teaches the fundamental and practical skills needed to pass the national certification skills and typing tests.

Certified transcriptionists are required to complete the written segment of their testing with a passing score and to accurately type between 175-225 words per minute.

How long will it take me to complete court reporter training in Iowa?

NCRA-approved programs that prepare students for the Registered Skilled Reporter (RSR) designation are generally segmented into two-year programs.

Most students can complete their training in just under three years with on-the-job training.

Court Reporter Salary Information

Online salary data reports show that Iowa’s court reporters make a good living.

The average for court reporters in the state falls right around $59.773.00 according to reputable sources like

It is important for new reporters entering the field to note that this salary only represents an average.

There are court reporters in the state who make less than the average at around $43,127.00 per year and seasoned reporters with additional certifications and years of experience who make as much as $78,234.00 a year or more.

Annual Salary Range:
Item Percent

Average Salary in Iowa

City Name Salary
Des Moines $60,317
Cedar Rapids $59,760
Davenport $59,277
Sioux City $54,220
Waterloo $56,794
Iowa City $59,273
Council Bluffs $59,051
Dubuque $58,957
Ames $59,755
Urbandale $60,317

Regional Salary

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA60$73,530$35.35$87,960$48,290
* 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.

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