A court reporter is responsible for creating an accurate and unbiased account of proceedings that occur while a court is in session.
These reports go on to form official records, and my be later relied on as evidence in the case being heard, or subsequent cases.
When you become a court reporter, you will be an important part of the criminal justice system.
If you have an interest in law and criminal justice, then you will likely find a career as a court reporter stimulating.
You will also need to have excellent communication skills, be a sharp observer, and also have a high level of attention to detail.
Accuracy and speed in this role are of the utmost importance.
There are two methods that a court reporter may use to create records of courtroom proceedings, these are steno typing and voice writing.
Using a steno typing machine, a court reporter can create a written account much faster than with a keyboard.
A stenotype machine has a larger keyboard which contains symbols, whole words, sounds, as well as letters.
It also allows the operator to press more than one key at a time.
Using the voice writing method, the court reporter will speak into a mask which contains a microphone.
they will repeat all testimony, as well as emotional responses and gestures, which are then recorded.
The mask is sound proof, so not distracting to anyone else in court.
Education Requirements to Become a Court Reporter
You can become a court reporter by attending a vocational college.
You can enroll in a voice writing program, which takes a year to complete.
After you finish, you will be able to find a job in a court.
If you would like to become a stenographer, some more study is required.
It takes approximately 33 months to be qualified in this role.
While at college you will improve your typing speed and accuracy, you need to be able to record around 225 words a minute.
You will also work on listening, speaking, and recording skills.
Many new court reporters find that the biggest challenge is learning to listen and record at the same time.
Court Reporter Job Description
A court reporter’s main task is to create an accurate record of court proceedings.
As these records may be relied upon as part of the appeals process, or in other cases, or in police reporting, accuracy and unbiased accounts are important.
A court reporter may also be responsible for organizing official records, as well as searching for and retrieving past records.
Some court reporters may provide closed captioning services for those with a hearing impairment, or translation services for speakers of languages other than English.
Working as a court reporter, you’ll spend most of your time sitting down in a court room.
While your work can expose you to some very interesting cases, at other times you will be exposed to some cases which you may find violent and disturbing.
Court Reporter Salary and Career Path
When you first become a court reporter, you can expect your salary to be around $28,000 a year.
With a few years experience, you could expect to earn closer to $50,000+ a year.
Court reporters are required in state and federal courts all around the country, so you will be able to find work wherever you are living at the time.
Most court reporters are employed within the criminal justice sector, by courts, or by law enforcement agencies.
Some work as freelancers, and are employed on a contract basis.
Later on in their careers, some court reporters will move on to become administrators or supervisors within the criminal justice sector.
Others may become teachers, and train upcoming court reporters.
Some court reporters may move on to become stenocaptioners, who provide close captions for television news and sporting events.
They are employed by television stations.
If you have an interest in criminal justice and are a strong administrator, then a career as a court reporter may be an excellent choice for you.
You’ll need to have skills in perception, as well as a high level of accuracy and attention to detail.
While there is some study required in the position, there is also a secure job on offer, and a good salary package.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a court reporter do?
The main goal of a court reporter is to make sure that everyone’s rights are protected during the legal process.
The specialists use a stenotype machine to capture everything that is said during the court proceeding.
Court reporters can be needed during public hearings, inquiry boards, in legislative assemblies, courts, committees, and so on.
There are court reporters that work outside the legal field; they can be asked to provide services to a broadcast network during political speeches, sporting events, conventions, conferences, etc.; court reporters can also specialize in Communications Access Realtime Reporting (that means providing services for the deaf and hearing-impaired).
The typical responsibility of a court reporter is to record and transcribe spoken or recorded speech into written form during a legal proceeding.
How much do court reporters make?
On average, a court reporter can make a little more than $57.000 per year in the United States.
In case you decide to choose this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $28.000 and $104.500 annually.
The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the employer, the location and so on.
Court reporters that work in California, Massachusetts, and New York, for example, have the highest average salaries.
An entry-level court reporter can earn around $14.00 per hour, while a top-level professional with plenty of experience can make $50.00 and more per hour.
How much does it cost to become a court reporter?
To become a court reporter, you would need to obtain an associate’s degree, a professional diploma or a certificate.
Court reporting programs can be found in community colleges and dedicated court reporter schools.
The tuition costs can range from $25.000 to $57.000.
What is the demand for court reporters?
Between 2016 and 2026, the court reporter job market is expected to grow by 3.6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That is a bit slower than the average for all occupations in the United States.
The demand for specialists will be growing due to the establishment of new federal regulations (those require the expanded use of captioning for the Internet, television, and other technologies).
The industry is mainly concentrated in Florida, New York, and Texas.
How long does it take to become a court reporter?
It will, in most cases, take you 2 years to obtain an associate’s degree, a certificate or a professional diploma.
Before beginning the program, find the path that suits your interests (whether that’s stenography, CART or broadcast captioning, for example).
Make sure that the chosen program is accredited through the National Court Reporters Association.