A court reporter, also known as a court stenographer, is responsible for transcribing spoken or recorded speech into written form. Court reporters play a significant role in the court by providing an accurate record of what occurred during a case. Therefore, court reporters must undergo extensive training in order to provide real-time transcription of the words spoken by every party during a court or deposition proceeding. So, what exactly does it take to be a court reporter?
Choosing a career path
There are a multitude of potential career paths to pursue within the field of court reporting, so it’s important to find a path of interest before beginning a court reporter program. If you’re interested in the field of court reporting, an online learning self-assessment is a great way to determine where to go next.
All court reporter programs provide the same basic structure to prepare students for state licensure and professional certification, but some schools divide programs to prepare students for specific areas of reporting. On the other hand, some schools provide broad stroke approaches, which allow students to different areas within the field, including judicial reporting, closed captioning, and communications access realtime reporting.
Preparing for the program
Students participating in court reporter programs are required to purchase their own manual stenotype machine, which ranges between $100 and $250. Next, students must rent or purchase a model computerized writer for classes. These computerized writers typically cost $2,000 new, but students also have the option to rent.
Additionally, students must prepare to take entrance exams in order to be accepted into a court writing program. Exams usually involve typing in English, so a student must have a strong grasp on the English language before applying.
Completing the program
In terms of education, the path to a court reporting career is relatively standard. Court reporting programs are available in a variety institutions, from community colleges to dedicated court reporter schools. Depending on the institution, completion of a court reporting program may result in an associate’s degree or a professional diploma.
However, because court reporting programs must prepare students for a state licensure or professional certification, all programs contain a similar curriculum. According to the National Court Reporters Association, students be able to type at a literary speed of 180 words per minute (wpm), a jury charge speed of 200 wpm, and a testimony/Q&A speed of 225 wpm.
Obtain a comprehensive education
The bulk of the court reporting curriculum involves shorthand and the mastery of it. A minimum accuracy of 97 percent must be achieved in machine shorthand. Most programs also require students to achieve a minimum accuracy, which reflects the student’s grade in both speed-building classes and coursework.
Along with shorthand, court reporting programs are also designed to teach students about English grammar, punctuation, and spelling, as well as medical and legal terminology, legal studies, research, transcription procedures, and technology. Most court reporting programs offer an apprenticeship, which provides students with practical, real-life training.
Meet state licensure requirements
State licensure requirements vary by state. For instance, Fort Lauderdale court reporters do not have to obtain a state-issued license to practice in Florida, but must pass the Florida Court Reporters Association’s professional certification program.
Most states require that licensing either have its own court reporting examination, consisting of a written examination and skill test, while many accept the Certified Verbatim Reporters examination through the National Verbatim Reporters Association.
Court reporters are required to be impartial, responsible, reliable, properly educated, and certified to perform their job. These educational requirements will ensure a concise, detailed, accurate, and unbiased transcription of every case.