Interested in shows like CSI or Judge Judy?
You might make a great court reporter if so.
You need to take a series of steps to get hired as a court reporter ready for a trial.
Learn what a court reporter does for a job and how much you can make in this occupation before applying to school.
Let’s get started.
What is a Court Reporter?
According to the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), a court reporter is a professional legal aide who transcribes oral communication into written text.
Also called a stenographer, simultaneous captioner, or machine transcriptionist, a court reporter transcribes court proceedings.
This includes all the information, including testimony, that must be documented for the sanctity of the American legal process.
Court reporters use technology to record and transcribe what they hear in a courtroom.
These documents are processed and provided to attorneys, judges, and other parties for court and disposition proceedings.
As a court reporter, you can also work in different specializations.
This includes hearing court reporters for the deaf or hard of hearing and legislative and official court reporters for the judicial system.
What are Typical Court Reporter Job Duties
- Go to courtrooms for trials, hearings, proceedings, and depositions
- Use digital recording equipment such as transcriptionist machines to capture verbatim what is said
- Write in shorthand while capturing communication
- Translate and edit text for print publication and filing
- Provide copies of transcribed courtroom content upon request
How Much is the Salary for Court Reporters in the US?
A court reporter in the US makes approximately $61,950 annually.
This typical salary falls within the income bracket of between $44,698 and $81,084.
An entry-level court reporter is likelier to earn the lower end of the scale as you can increase your income with years of experience.
Comparable salaries for court reporters in the US include:
- California $68,331
- Seattle, WA $68,356
- Charleston, SC $58,830
Other ways to make more money as a court reporter include having more specialized training and skills than most of your workforce competitors.
Also, gain as much education as possible as you become a court reporter.
The more training and credentials you have, the better you look for a potential job candidate.
You can also increase your salary as a court reporter by having certifications.
Certifications are earned by sitting for board exams hosted by associations and organizations.
Once you are eligible to sit for a board exam, you must pass a test, usually proctored by a computer and the Internet.
Upon passing the exam with at least a minimum score, you are provided with a certificate that notes you are certified for that board exam.
How to Become a Court Reporter: Step-by-Step
Here are the steps you will want to follow to be a court reporter in an expedited manner.
Save time and money by taking this route to earn your certifications and get a job as a court reporter in any state in the US.
Step 1: Apply and Attend Court Reporter Training
Find an online course or attend a traditional college or continuing education center offering court reporter training.
Apply to a program on court reporting and complete the course successfully.
Earn a degree, diploma, or certificate in court reporting.
The typical process of going to school to be a court reporter takes up to 24 months.
Usually, students earn an associate degree in court reporting at the very least.
You can also pursue a bachelor’s degree in a related subject to help increase your earnings potential and skill level.
You will learn all the skills necessary to become a working court reporter in school.
This includes how to use transcriptionist recording equipment.
A machine transcriptionist equipment will suffice for a court reporter.
There are also specialized software packages and stenotype machines that court reporters use for legal purposes.
In addition, your time in school as a court reporter will prepare you for the language and vocabulary often used in courts.
Here, you will learn how courts write out legal documentation and law terminology.
Your time in school will include mock trials and courtroom sessions where you practice working as a court reporter.
You may also have an internship or work-study experience in school that puts you in the real world.
This gives you a safe way to practice working as a court reporter in real-time.
Step 2: Prepare for Court Reporter Certification Exams
Choose the ideal court reporter certification exam for your career goals.
Several associations offer national certifications for court reporters, including:
- National Court Reporters Association (NCRA)
- National Stenomask Verbatim Reporters Association (NSVRA)
These associations offer next-level and high-level certifications for a professional who works as a court reporter.
Court reporters increase their capacity to work on higher-paying assignments and for more specialized courts by having these certifications.
Each certification exam has a price and application process, including prerequisites.
Check out the requirements for applying for these exams before starting school.
This way, you can choose a program to prepare you for the exam by teaching you the information you need to succeed.
Step 3: Work With Transcription Equipment
To be a successful court reporter, you must work with transcriptionist equipment.
This includes a foot pedal-operated system that allows you to record communications using a tape player.
From there, a court reporter will need a headset to hear the recorded audio for transcriptionist purposes.
After listening to the audio for transcribing, a court reporter will use the shorthand system to write the content verbatim.
The printable material will need to be accessible to those in the legal system, such as lawyers and judges.
Therefore, a court reporter must type it out after using shorthand language to capture the audio recorded during a legal proceeding.
This information must be written out entirely and edited professionally, suitable for publishing within the legal system.
Therefore, you will need a good computer and printer to manage the paperwork that comes with being a court reporter.
Step 4: Get Employed as a Court Reporter
Apply for a job as a court reporter within the judicial system.
Someone searching for a court reporting job would typically look directly to courts for employment.
However, the better route is to find a local newspaper or to go to an unemployment center to see if jobs are available.
You can also look online at city halls for court reporting opportunities in the hiring section of their websites.
Lawyers and judges are also good resources for finding jobs as court reporters.
They can lead you in the right direction for a courtroom or law-related business that needs your services.
Education for Court Reporters
When attending school as a court reporter, the training typically leads to a certificate or degree.
Here is where having a background in another area can suffice for some credentialing.
If you are interested in attending school to be a court reporter and already have a degree or work history, this might apply to the court reporting field.
For example, if you have experience in machine transcription or as a paralegal, you already know the technical process or the language.
This can speed up training dramatically and reduce the time you will need to spend in school.
Also, if you already have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, you will most likely need to seek a professional certificate program.
A certificate program for a court reporter takes about one year to complete.
Compare this to the associate’s degree program, a two-year route for students needing a general education background.
A bachelor’s degree is four years of school.
A bachelor’s degree typically leads to a master’s degree, an additional one to two years of education.
If you want an education solely in court reporting, go for the certificate.
However, an associate’s degree, especially a bachelor’s degree, might be the minimum requirement for getting hired quickly as a court reporter.
Some employers will not consider your application if you do not have a bachelor’s degree.
Consider this when dreaming about where you hope to work as a court reporter.
Before you go to school, think about a few places where you would love to work as a court reporter when you get hired.
You might also land a gig where you can intern while going to school for court reporting.
Contact the employer or review their information online to determine if you will meet the hiring requirements.
Find out the hiring requirements at the place of employment where you hope to land a job upon graduation.
This will help you decide how much school and educational attainments you need to get hired in the real world as a court reporter.
Licensing and Certification for Court Reporters
As a court reporter who has completed training, your next priority will be to get certified as a court reporter.
This involves going through the application process to sit for a certification exam.
You must meet the minimum requirements for a certification exam to be eligible.
After you successfully pass the exam, typically proctored online using a computer, you will be given a certificate indicating you have passed a certificate exam.
You can use the certificate to help you get a job as a court reporter.
You may also seek a business license as a court reporter with a certificate.
Here is a list of the certifications that are available through the NCRA:
- CVR Certified Verbatim Reporter
- RSR Registered Skill Reporter
- RPR Registered Professional Reporter
- RMR Registered Merit Reporter
- RDR Registered Diplomate Reporter
- CRR Certified Realtime Reporter
- CRC Certified Realtime Captioner
- CRI Certified Reporting Instructor
- CLVS Certified Legal Video Specialist
Next, as a court reporter, you may need a professional license if your state requires this process.
Some court reporter licensing requirements, such as the Washington State Department of Licensing, require you to sign up with the state department once you have passed a certification exam.
This is mandatory for you to be able to get hired as a court reporter in your state.
Job Outlook for Court Reporters
The job outlook for a court reporter in the US is strong.
There is projected to be a three percent job increase for court reporters nationwide over the next decade.
Through 2032, 2,100 jobs will need to be filled by court reporters.
Retiring employees previously held these jobs.
In addition, the US is expected to pick up 7,700 more jobs for court reporters by 2029.
Should You Become a Court Reporter?
As a court reporter, you are in the middle of the scene regarding legal proceedings.
If you are interested in legal cases and courtroom drama and want to know what is happening in the courts, you get a front-row seat as a court reporter.
You are also responsible for documenting the entire event when you work.
This can be satisfying for someone who likes to be in control, to use technology for writing, and to work with the legal system.
You earn less than an attorney, so keeping up with those fancy suits can challenging on your middle-class income.
The average salary for a court reporter is around $65,000 a year.
This is based on a range of $44,000 to $81,000 a year as a court reporter in the US.
Job Growth Outlook
The job growth outlook for court reporters is positive.
There will be at least 9,000 job openings for court reporters throughout the US in the coming ten years.
To be a professional court reporter, you must attend at least one year of post-secondary schooling.
Going to college is not required, but getting a professional certificate and training in court reporting is on the agenda.
Personal Skills Needed
- Attention to detail
- Ability to use transcription equipment
- Interest in language
- Desire to work in the legal system
- Capacity to sit for long periods
Frequently Asked Questions
How long must you go to school to become a Court Reporter?
On average, you will need to attend school for up to two years for court reporting.
Some courses require students to go to school for four years for a degree in court reporting.
In addition, certificate courses only take a few months to a year to complete.
How much money does a Court Reporter make a year?
You can earn a middle-range income as a court reporter with salaries averaging $65,000 in the US.
However, the salary range is not capped, and you can make more than this with increased experience, skills, and education.
What kind of education do you need to be a Court Reporter?
Some education is required to be a court reporter.
This includes a high school diploma, GED, professional certificate, or college degree.
Typically, court reporters have an associate’s degree in court reporting or a related area and a certificate in court reporting.
You can also get a degree in stenography or machine transcription to prepare for a career as a court reporter.
Are Court Reporters in high demand?
There is currently a three percent outlook for jobs in demand for court reporters.
Within the next ten years, there will be a projected 2,100 more job availabilities for court reporters.
There will also be 7,700 new jobs for court reporters in the next decade.
What skills do you need to have to be a Court Reporter?
As a court reporter, you need to have sharp listening skills and be able to show attention to detail.
Along with being able to sit for long periods, you must be in a courtroom environment often.
Here, you are in the middle of the conversations of trials and dispositions.
You are required to record everything that is said and done during the event.
Typing and recording on tape are primarily done during the event.
Afterward, you will use the shorthand notes and recorded audio to write out what was said at the event for legal use.