Pursuing a career in court reporting gives you the opportunity to work in a legal environment while putting your journalistic skills to work. Unlike most occupations with fixed schedules, court reporters can secure freelance jobs, which have more work schedule flexibility. To become a reporter, you need to fulfill the required educational, licensing and certification requirements.
Duties and Responsibilities
Court reporters typically transcribe recorded and spoken speech into written form to produce official transcripts of court hearings, public trials and other legal proceedings. Other duties include:
- Asking speakers to speak audibly or clarify unclear statements.
- Certifying transcripts and filing them with the court clerk.
- Mailing transcripts when required and answering telephone calls from attorneys, court personnel, litigants and counsel.
- Assisting trial judges and attorneys to collect and gather relevant information from official transcripts and legal documents.
- Providing real-time translating services to the deaf, especially during public proceedings.
- Operating audio and video equipment as judges can ask them to replay testimonies.
Education and Training
If you need a rewarding career that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree as the minimum employment requirement for entry-level positions, court reporting is an ideal choice. You need to complete the following steps:
- Obtain a diploma or associate degree in court reporting or paralegal studies from a recognized institution.
- Pursue additional courses that focus on handling transcription machines such as steno masks and stenotype machines and increasing your speed and accuracy of transcribing.
- Obtain a license from your state’s licensing board.
Several colleges in the United States offer educational programs in court reporting. Some of the top schools include:
- Brown College of Court Reporting, Atlanta, GA
- Alvin Community College, Alvin, TX
- Arlington Career Institute, Grand Prairie, TX
- Bryan University, Los Angeles, CA
As a court reporter, possessing the following skills are crucial:
- Active listening skills to listen to what speakers are saying and record accurately.
- Concentration in order work for long periods without tiring.
- Writing skills to prepare documents in perfect grammar.
- Time management skills to report to duty on time and avoid delaying court proceedings.
- Reading comprehension to read, understand and translate complex legal documents.
Salary and Job Growth
As of May 2013, court reporters working in the U.S. earned a mean annual wage of $54,760, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fresh entrants into the job market can expect to earn at least $26,340 annually while senior court reporters in administrative positions can earn up to $93,240 annually. Although the implementation of new federal and state regulations will create more employment opportunities for court reporters, only about new 2000 positions will be available between 2012 and 2022.
Career Development Opportunities
To qualify for senior court reporting positions and improve your compensation prospects, you can pursue a bachelor’s degree in court reporting. Professional certifications are also a major avenue for court reporters’ career development. Organizations that offer these certifications include:
- National Verbatim Reporters Association
- American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers
- National Court Reporters’ Association
The top employers for court reporters are;
- Local offices and courts
- State offices and courts
- Business support services
- Motion picture and video firms
Freelance court reporters can work with multiple employers.