Court reporters often work within the judicial system, but their services are also used in situations when a written record of spoken words is necessary. Court reporters create written transcripts of proceedings in courtrooms, meetings, seminars, conferences and other events. Some states require court reporters to be licensed or to be notary publics.
The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) provides certification programs at various levels, but associate and bachelor’s degrees in court reporting can also be useful for both attaining employment and climbing the career ladder. While voice writing can be learned in less than a year, mastering stenography can take up to three years.
Beyond the basic certification, court reporters can pursue additional training, such as Registered Merit Reporter (RMR) or Registered Diplomat Reporter (RDR), Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR), Certified Broadcast Captioner (CBC) and Certified CART Provider (CCP), which involves closed captioning of media programs.
Court reporters listen and record spoken words during legal proceedings and other instances that a written transcript is necessary. A court reporter uses one of three methods to prepare transcripts:
As court reporters must produce records quickly and accurately, excellent hearing, grammar, punctuation and spelling skills are necessary. For court reporters who work in courtrooms or lawyers’ offices, a working knowledge of legal terminology and court processes are also advisable.
In 2006, about 19,000 people were employed as court reporters; more than half of these were state and local government employees. Other salaried court reporters worked mostly for court reporting agencies while just eight percent were self-employed.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the middle 50 percent of court reporters earned between $33,160 and $61,530 in 2006, with a median salary of $45,610. Salaries vary widely depending on the type of reporting, geographic location, experience and level of education and certification achieved.
The U.S. Department of Labor predicts “much faster than average” growth in the employment of court reporters between 2006 and 2016, particularly for stenographic typists and those certified to provide CART and webcasting.