What Does a Court Reporter Do?

A court reporter transcribes legal proceedings, such as trials, meetings, conferences, hearings and depositions. They create word-for-word legal documentation of such events, and they also offer transcription services to the hearing-impaired. If you're interested in becoming a court reporter, you can seek an associate's degree or certificate program in court reporting. The professional possibilities in court reporting and the job duties you can expect are described below. Schools offering Legal Transcriptionist degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Court Reporter Job Duties

Court reporters, also known as stenographers, are responsible for writing down exactly what they hear during court proceedings. The main methods of court reporting are stenography and voice recording, which use unique syllabic shorthand in order to transcribe at a fast pace. Stenography machines allow you to type what you hear using a special shorthand keyboard for transcription. Voice writing, as the title suggests, transcribes your verbal shorthand into a text form on a computer. A skilled court reporter can transcribe words from multiple speakers and reach transcribing speeds of around 225 words per minute.

Important Facts About Court Reporting

Required Education Post-secondary certificate or associate's degree
Licensure/Certification Licensure or professional certification from such agencies as the National Court Reporters Association required by many states
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 10%
Key Skills Good concentration, writing and listening skills, attention to detail

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

In the Courtroom

Accurate transcription is necessary for legal documentation and records. Judges, attorneys and other parties in legal proceedings often rely on court reporters to verify testimony. As a court reporter, you may transcribe proceedings such as witness statements, pre-trial depositions and arbitration sessions. You could work for court systems or freelance your services through court reporting firms.

Broadcast Closed Captioning

Many court reporters also work outside of the courtroom to provide captioning services to the deaf and hearing-impaired. If you work in closed captioning, you could provide real-time captioning for political speeches, live entertainment events, emergency warnings, sporting events, sales conferences and conventions. Closed captioners can also transcribe radio broadcasts for the hearing-impaired, which are often broadcast online.

CART Reporting

Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) is a method for instantly translating speech to text. CART reporters often provide one-on-one transcription services to people who are deaf or hearing-impaired. A CART reporter may transcribe a variety of events, such as captioning a convention presentation, transcribing a classroom lecture for hearing-impaired students and recording a church service for congregation members with hearing problems.

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