What is a Court Stenographer?
Court stenographers, also known as court reporters, are responsible for compiling precise transcripts of legal procedures, depositions, speeches, meetings, and real time closed captioning for the hearing-impaired. In addition to devising these verbatim records, it’s common for court reporters to assist judges and trial attorneys, especially in organizing and locating information in the official record. Court stenographers also may make suggestions on courtroom administration and procedure. Stenographers’ main job responsibility is to ensure that a complete and accurate record is recorded.
What Training and Education is Required?
Training and education requirements vary by areas of specialization, and each state has its own licensure requirements. The basic education foundation is similar for all areas with a focus on legal and medical terminology, business law, and English. Further studies vary, but it typically takes less than a year to be a novice voice writer. At least 2 years are needed to become proficient at real-time voice writing. Electronic reporters and transcribers use audio-capture technology and usually learn their skills in the work environment. The average time to become a real-time stenographic court reporter is 33 months. Over 100 postsecondary vocational and technical schools and colleges offer training. The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) has certified over 60 programs for stenotype computer-aided transcription and real-time reporting.
How Do Court Reporters Obtain Licensure?
State licensure varies from each state with some states require voice writers to pass a test. The National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA) has three national certifications for voice writers: Certified Verbatim Reporter (CVR), Certificate of Merit (CM), and Real-Time Verbatim Reporter (RVR). Completion of these certifications qualifies for licensure in States where the voice method of court reporting is permitted. Continuing education is needed to retain these certifications. For some states court reporters must also gain certification to become a notary public. A Certified Court Reporter (CCR) designation is available in some states, where a reporter must pass a State test. All certifications require an excellent command of language, excellent listening skills, ability to remained focused for extended periods, and be detail oriented. Highly skilled court reporters are able to provide transcription in real time and have the highest career potential.
What Kind of Work Does a Court Reporter Do After Training?
Court reporters may make suggestions regarding courtroom proper procedure, do research of the official record, and assist the court. Immediate references to the record make real time reporting beneficial with judges preferring their reporter be real time capable.
Freelance reporting outside the courtroom for depositions and other processes requiring official legal transcript are also common occupations for court reports. Other opportunities for real time transcription work are in public events, religious services, webcasts, and educational functions. Court reporters also work for television producers and station to provide closed captioning for the hearing-impaired.
What Does the Typical Court Reporter Earn?
The median annual wages of court reporters was $49,710 in May 2008, with 50 percent earned between $35,390 and $67,430. The highest earning 10 percent had wages more than $83,500. Median annual wages in May 2008 were $44,670 for court reporters in business support services and $51,150 for work for local government. Overtime and freelance opportunities allow for increases in pay especially for those with real time capabilities.