The definition of a court reporter is a person employed by the court to handle recordings and transcriptions of court hearings, legal dispositions, and meetings. These individuals take specific training to use a stenotype machine and record proceedings, to ensure complete, secure, and accurate legal transcriptions. These people also assist judges and litigators with the investigation and the organization of official court documents. They also sometimes provide suggestions concerning tribunal administration and judicial procedures. Often, court reporters write about 225 words per minute and familiarize themselves with all legal terms.
In the United States, the average salary for these individuals reaches $45,000 but it may fluctuate between $35,390 and $67,430, depending on the location, experience, and level of certification. Most of the jobs exist for full-time local, state positions. To fulfill the demand for positions in the industry, more than 150 training programs exist to educate and certify individuals for the job. Such training includes community colleges, university programs, and distance learning options. The main skill that prospective court reporters must develop is an ability to convert spoken words to text, so people can archive and use this text in readings, streaming, broadcasts, or searches. Although the uses vary, the services provided by reporters create a vital resource for individuals with hearing impairments, or those requiring language translations, among others.
The first step toward becoming a stenographer is to obtain a high school diploma or GED. Afterward, prospective hires must complete at least an associate’s degree program from an accredited college or university. Therefore, students with difficulties mastering grammar or shortcomings in the dominance of the language can improve skills using services such as Put Words to Wings before beginning a college degree. Students must complete a 33-month degree, where prospective stenographers receive training in computer-aided transcription and stenography. These degree programs also cover topics that include legal and medical terminology, legal procedures and the American legal system, and the procedures of the court system.
Once prospective court reporters have the necessary education and training, they can obtain jobs from local, state, and federal governments. However, independent agencies, such as Fort Lauderdale court reporters, also provide career opportunities for different positions within the court system. These types of agencies tend to offer the courts a wide range of services and staff individuals skilled in video specialties that may require video conferencing, translation services, and document managing, among other services.
Last, stenographers may need to obtain a license, although this may vary by state. Some states require a notary public certification, while others require a Certified Court Reporter credential. Once students obtain the necessary credentials, they can obtain certification through the United States Reporters Associated (USCRA) or the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). The NCRA offers a wide range of professional certifications, such as the Registered Professional Reported (RPR), Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR), Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS), Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC), and the Registered Merit Reporter (RMR), as well as other related certification programs.
Court Reporters have varying job opportunities. These jobs include working in a courtroom, for a lawyer, for a government agency, for a judicial information agency, or for a television station or network. Such jobs include many benefits and are well paid. The variety of jobs provides individuals interested in the industry with a list of options that can accommodate different talents. As the court system continues to evolve and the dependency in technology increases, opportunities that tie such jobs with technical skills will also grow, thus providing more opportunities in the field.