Certified Shorthand Reporter: Certification and Career Facts

Shorthand or court reporters use their trained ears and typing skills to create accurate transcripts of legal and other official proceedings. To get started in this career, you'll need to complete formal training through an accredited court reporting program. You may also need a license. Find out more about the requirements for becoming a shorthand reporter, and get info on the certification process. Schools offering Digital Marketing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

The requirements to become a shorthand or court reporter can vary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, you may need to pass a government licensure exam in order to work in some states. Other states don't have license requirements, but some employers may want you to have an associate's degree from a court-reporting program accredited by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). You may find employers who accept professional certification and work experience as proof of competency, sometimes in lieu of a college degree or the state exam. You can also use advanced certification for career advancement or increased salary opportunities.

Courses Transcript formatting, proofreading, real-time transcription, and courtroom procedures
Licensing Government licensure exam might be required for employment in some states
Certification NCRA's Registered Professional Reporter, NCRA's Certified Realtime Reporter, AAERT's Certified Electronic Court Reporter and Transcriber

What Would I Do as a Shorthand Reporter?

Shorthand reporters, also called court reporters or stenographers, use shorthand-typing devices called stenotype machines to create word-for-word transcripts of courtroom proceedings, speeches and other official events. These transcripts are commonly used as legal records, so the reporter must be sure they capture every word and create the most accurate account possible of the proceedings. Most shorthand reporters are also responsible for maintaining and updating the shorthand dictionary, usually computerized, that translates their keystroke codes into standard written English.

What Is the Career Like?

Most shorthand reporters work in courtrooms, employed by their local, state or Federal government. Others can find employment through court reporting agencies or private organizations, such as closed-captioning services. According to estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, court reporters can expect a job growth rate of three percent from 2016-2026. As of May 2017, these professionals had a median annual wage of $55,120.

What Certifications Are Available?

In addition to state boards that grant licenses, there are a few different professional organizations in the country that offer voluntary certification exams, including the following:

  • National Court Reporters Association (NCRA)
  • United States Court Reporters Association (USCRA)
  • American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT)

The NCRA may be the most recognized, although the USCRA and the AAERT also offer entry-level certification exams for shorthand reporters. To sit for these exams, you may need upwards of one year of work experience as a court reporter.

What Will the Certification Exam Cover?

Most entry-level certification exams are similar; they require you to prove both accuracy and speed in a skills test, in addition to knowledge of reporting techniques on a written section. Most exams require you to type 180-200 words per minute with more than 96% accuracy.

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