How to Become a Court Reporter
Court reporters hold the great responsibility of capturing the testimonies of legal proceedings—from depositions to trials both locally and in the United States Supreme Court. While this might seem like a weighty career, and the courtroom atmosphere might seem intimidating, the easily accessible education, competitive salary and flexibility in work hours make court reporting a well-rounded career opportunity – with the esteem of providing an honorable and respected service.
Becoming a court reporter also plays a pivotal part in combatting the national court reporter shortage. The National Court Reporters Association recognized the potential for the shortage years ago and commissioned a study with Ducker Worldwide to explore the problem, which provided potential implications in greater detail. One of the key takeaways of the study was the identified gap between the number of available stenographers and the demand for them, which increases by 3.75 percent every 5 years.
Much Like Uncle Sam’s recruitment slogan for WWII, “We want you”, the court reporting and captioning industry offers an incredible career opportunity across the country.
Check out this roadmap for how to become a court reporter:
Even if schoolwork and tests make you anxious, there’s no need to feel overwhelmed as you begin court reporter training. While each state varies in their court reporting licensing and certification requirements, the baseline requirements to become a court reporter are:
- Being 18+ years old
- Having a high school degree or GED (though a college degree is a plus)
- Upholding a clean, crime-free history
- As a bonus, having some experience with shorthand and transcription (but not necessary)
Again, each state holds unique requirements regarding licensing, but the Registered Professional Reporter exam collectively requires 95% accuracy and a minimum of 225 words per minute on the stenography machine.
Check out your state’s specific examination requirements here.
How long does court reporter training last—degrees, examinations and all? To fit your timeline, schedule and other responsibilities, here are several of the best court reporter school options:
- The quickest path to becoming a court reporter doesn’t require a college degree, but rather, a 24–30 month National Court Reporters Association-approved certification
- Meanwhile, a collegiate route to becoming a court reporter is to enroll in a 2-year associate degree program
- The last option for becoming a court reporter is to enroll in a 4-year bachelor’s degree
Regardless of a certification or associate degree or bachelor’s degree, programs include classes in legal terminology, criminal and appellate procedures, in addition to technology-based courses in transcription and real-time reporting. Each of these programs provides all the necessary training to help you score well on the licensing exam.
Benefits of a Career in Court Reporting
The benefits of court reporting are near-limitless, including:
- Dependable salary —In 2020 alone, the average court reporter experienced a 14% salary increase
- Flexible work schedule—Court reporters can choose part-time or full-time work, while also choosing whether to stick with the standard 9-5 hours or work outside of those more common timeframes
- Opportunities to travel—Typically, court reporters are most needed in more populated cities, but you don’t solely have to travel within the United States. Many government agencies and corporations have offices abroad where you can provide your services.
Well, “Now that I know how to become a court reporter, now what?” is a decent question to ask, and U.S. Legal Support provides resources to help kickstart your court reporting career journey.
Join our mentorship program to hone your skills, build industry knowledge and develop strategies to navigate this professional field. Students are invited to participate in virtual mentor meetings with experienced court reporters, highlighting relevant topics such as:
- Remote reporting
- Realtime technology
- CAT software
- Financial wellness
- Job types
- Deposition procedures
- File management
- Life cycle of a deposition
- Health and wellness
- And more!
These are open-floor meetings that allow students to ask questions and receive real-time feedback.
After joining our mentorship program and reaching personal speed goals, students are invited to join our internship program where they will be matched with an experienced court reporter who offers real-career lessons and experiences, as well as guides them through practicing a variety of skills. Internship opportunities include:
- Job shadowing
- Having your jobs proofed and reviewed
- CAT software training
For more information on the ins and outs of becoming a court reporter, email [email protected].