Some reports estimate that court reporters will soon be in very short supply. This is due to the rapidly aging workforce of current court reporters, many of whom are approaching retirement. The profession is often overlooked by younger workers. Yet, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for court reporters in 2016 was $51,320. Overall, a career in court reporting offers a lot of growth and job stability in an industry that is increasingly seeing spikes in demand. Learn more about how to become a court reporter in this quick guide.
What Is Court Reporting?
Long ago, court reporters were called “stenographers.” A court reporter attends official proceedings in order to transcribe what people are saying, thus creating an official record of the entire event. Before video and audio recordings became readily available, court reporters relied on shorthand, an abbreviated method of transcription, in order to quickly take down what people were saying. They used 22-key steno machines to create these records. This real-time recording was crucial to ensuring the validity, accuracy, and authenticity of court proceedings. Over time, however, court reporting has become much more high-tech.
Modern Court Reporting
Today, court reporters do more than just attend court. Many court reporters attend depositions, trials, arbitrations, mediations, and a host of other legal proceedings that require transcription. Once the event is recorded, the court reporter must then carefully review his or her stenographic shorthand record, and then create a formal and accurate transcription.
As technology has improved, many court reporters also take audio recordings of proceedings, as an aide to creating accurate transcriptions. Some cross-train as videographers or team up to perform video deposition services as well. Many court reporters choose to obtain advanced training in real-time reporting and broadcast reporting, in order to perform closed-captioning services.
How To Become A Court Reporter
Most court reporting programs last about 2 or 3 years. However, it can take as much as 5 years to obtain all of the professional certifications needed to command the highest pay in the industry. You can review a list of schools offering certification programs to learn more about specific requirements.
What Makes A Great Court Reporter?
Among other things, court reporters are generally well-trained and proficient. Some specific attributes are highly desirable:
- Punctual. A court reporter works under strict deadlines. If a deposition must begin at a certain time, the court reporter has to be there. Often dozens of professionals, witnesses, and entire law firms have arranged schedules to facilitate a deposition. Tardiness is not an option.
- Manual dexterity. A court reporter must be able to operate a steno machine with lightning speed.
- Mentally sharp. Great court reporters are quick thinkers who can rapidly respond to problems and come up with creative solutions on the fly.
- Professional behavior and appearance. Being sharp is important, but so is looking sharp. Court reporters are visible figures in trials and depositions. They work around attorneys, doctors, and highly-trained expert witnesses. They must project a professional appearance at all times. This goes hand-in-hand with professional conduct and demeanor.
Start A New Career With AWR
Are you looking for a job as a court reporter? AWR is currently looking for court reporters in North Carolina and South Carolina. Join a team with over 30 years of experience as an industry leader. Visit our careers page, and get in touch today!