Thinking About Becoming a Court Reporter? Here’s What You Should Know About the Profession

Court reporting louisville

If you’re interested in the legal system and reporting, one interesting potential job you could seek out is that of a court reporter. Court reporters are an important part of the legal proceedings that take place every day in a courtroom. From local courtrooms, all the way up to the Supreme Court, court reporters are at the forefront, recording the legal proceedings for reference, history, and documentation. Judges, litigators, and lawyers may all refer back to the transcriptions recorded by a court reporter at some point, so accuracy is crucial. Court reporters must strive for a high bar of excellence and quality work at all times. There’s usually a strenuous certification process, regulated by one of three main court reporting associations. However, the work is often fascinating and you can be privy to some major decisions that affect the history of law and society as a whole.
What are the Duties of a Court Reporter?
A court reporter’s job is to provide a comprehensive record of what goes on in a court. A court reporter may often use a stenotype machine to capture the legal proceedings, or simply type the proceedings as they occur. The court reporter attends depositions, hearings, proceedings, or other legal events that need a written transcript. They’re responsible for taking down spoken dialogue and must be familiar with specialized equipment, such as stenography machines, video and audio recording devices, and microphones.
Their transcriptions become part of the permanent record and their documentation is often referred to while the case is still open. However, if a case re-opened, challenged, or otherwise appealed, their transcription may be gone over to understand what happened in the original hearing and case.
What Do Jobs Look Like For Court Reporters?
Belonging to one of the three national court reporting associations in the United States is almost mandatory to get a good job and to be certified. The three associations are The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), the National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA), and the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT). NCRA court reporting, for example, is held to a high standard and if you can say that you’ve done NCRA court reporting, it looks excellent on your resume. They represent about 20,000 stenographers in the United States.
It’s estimated that between 2012 to 2022, court reporter jobs are supposed to go up by 10%, so NCRA court reporting may be at an all time high.
What Do Court Reporters Have to Do In Order to Become Certified?
If you’re doing NCRA court reporting, the standards by which you were tested or received your certification may be different than someone who received certification through the AAERT, for example. However, there are some main qualifications that all court reporters must meet.
These qualifications are generally that a court reporter must be able to take down 225 testimony words a minute, 200 jury charge words per minute, and 180 literary words per minute and have a 95% accuracy rate throughout. Indeed, the National Court Reporters Association has a minimum typing speed of 225 words per minute.
A student must prepare for the court reporter program — usually you’re asked to buy your own manual stenotype machine and in some cases, a model computerized writer for CART (Communications Access Realtime Reporting) classes. Entrance exams are usually required to even get into the program — these are in English and typing.
The court reporting program and certification process itself can take around 33 months and students spend around 15 hours (at minimum) transcribing the spoken word to maximize their skills. They must master shorthand, have a clear and comprehensive knowledge of English grammar, spelling, and punctuation, transcription, legal studies, conducting research properly, and often medical and legal terminology. They must also be comfortable in using different types of technology in the courtroom to best provide a clear and quality transcription.
Becoming a court reporter is no joke — you must have a fairly specific skill set and field of knowledge, be able to hand pressure well, and a sense of precision and accuracy.

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