Court Reporter: Career Profile, Job Outlook and Educational Requirements

A court reporter creates verbatim transcripts of legal proceedings, meetings, speeches, conversations and other events when written accounts are necessary for legal proof. Either a certificate or an associate's degree in court reporting is typically required to attain employment as a court reporter, and a number of states also require you to hold a license or certification. Read on for more info about this career. Schools offering Legal Transcriptionist degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Court reporters are used in a variety of settings, including court trials and providing captioning for different events. The field of court reporting is expected to grow as fast as other occupations in the future; however, the specific methods of reporting continue to change. Some postsecondary education is required for this profession, and many states expect court reporters to be licensed or certified.

Programs Certificate or associate degree usually required
Job Outlook 10% growth from 2012-2022
Certification Typically required in many states, commonly offered through the National Court Reporters Association

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Duties of a Court Reporter?

Court reporters use stenography, electronic reporting or voice writing to make an accurate and secure record of meetings or events necessitating preservation of the spoken word. Federal government employment and National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) certification require court reporters to capture a minimum of 225 words per minute. Preparation of a typed script of the recorded proceedings as a complete, legal written transcript is also the responsibility of the court reporter. Some court reporters become specialists as Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) reporters, providing real-time captioning for classes, trials and events for the hearing impaired.

What Is the Employment Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of court reporters is projected to grow 10% over the 10-year period from 2012 and 2022, which is an average rate compared to all occupations. Voice writing and electronic reporting are on the rise, while traditional stenographic court reporting is becoming more rare, largely because of budgetary constraints. Federal legislation mandates that all new television programming be captioned for the hearing impaired, further enhancing the job outlook for court reporters that wish to branch out into broadcasting. The Americans with Disabilities Act gives hearing-impaired college students the right to request CARTs of their lectures.

What Kind of Education Do I Need?

Certificate and associate's degree programs in court reporting can prepare you for entry-level employment in the private and public sectors; you may also complete on-the-job training. Becoming a proficient real-time steno typist typically takes 33 months, and becoming a real-time voice writer takes about 2 years. The NCRA provides a list of postsecondary schools nationwide that it has certified as meeting standards in court reporting education. Earning a bachelor's degree in court reporting may help you further your career.

Courses you may take in a court-reporting program can include legal terminology, machine shorthand theory, court transcription and transcription speed building. You may also have to complete an internship to fulfill degree requirements.

What Certification Options are Available?

The NCRA offers three registration and seven certification designations, including the Registered Professional Reporter, Certified Realtime Reporter, Certified CART Provider and Certified Legal Video Specialist. The National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA) offers two national certifications that are accepted by many states: the Registered Broadcast Captioner and the Registered CART Provider. To earn these designations, you need to pass one or more examinations; some certifications may have additional qualifying requirements.

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