What Training Is Required to Be a Stenographer?

If you're interested in stenography, also known as court reporting, there are different ways to get the specific training you need. To learn more about the training requirements and opportunities for stenographers, read on! Schools offering Legal Transcriptionist degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Stenography Career

Stenographers, also known as stenotypists or stenographic court reporters, create verbatim transcriptions of legal proceedings, such as depositions, meetings, trials and hearings. Court reporters quickly type what they hear using a special stenotype machine and keyboard shorthand. In addition to traditional stenography, many court reporters become voice writers and are trained in audio transcription technologies.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Required EducationCertificate, associate degree
Key SkillsExcellent concentration, detail oriented, listening and writing
Work EnvironmentCourtrooms, offices
Similar OccupationsMedical transcriptionists, word processors and typists

Formal Education Programs

Stenography training typically leads to an associate degree and includes instruction in stenotype computer-aided transcription and real-time reporting. Degree and certificate programs certified by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) prepare you for the court reporting profession, as well as other closed-captioning and transcription occupations such as broadcast captioning. These programs also train you to meet the requirements for federal government employment, including the ability to capture as many as 225 words per minute. Even after completing a formal training program, you may be required to complete a short period of on-the-job training.

On-the-Job Training

If you wish to become a voice writer, you can learn your skills through on-the-job training, which is accomplished by reading instruction manuals, reviewing them with trainers, becoming familiar with audio capture technology, and observing experienced voice transcribers in action.

Certification and Licensing

Depending on the state in which you'll work, you may need to pass an exam and become licensed. If you wish to specialize in voice writing, you can substitute certification from the National Verbatim Reporters Association for licensing. The three national certifications available for voice writers are the Certified Verbatim Reporter (CVR), Certificate of Merit (CM) and Real-Time Verbatim Reporter (RVR).

To earn the CVR certification, you must pass a written test for spelling and punctuation, legal and medical terminology, and vocabulary. As a certification candidate, you take three 5-minute exams that test for speed and accuracy. The RVR exam tests you on real-time transcription, judicial reporting, Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) skills and captioning. The CM certification exam requires a high level of skill, knowledge and accuracy.

The National Court Reporters Association is another organization that offers several certifications, including the entry-level Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) designation, which can be earned by passing a four-part exam and taking continuing education courses. If you earn the RPR designation, you may be exempt from having to earn state licensure. The NCRA also offers several advanced voluntary certifications that can enhance your resume and help with career advancement.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS predicted that employment of court reporters was expected to grow slower-than-average, at 2% between 2014 and 2024. Job prospects are expected to be better for those who graduate from formal training programs, and those with training in real-time captioning and Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) are expected to experience the best prospects. The BLS noted that the average annual salary for court reporters was $55,000 in 2014.

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