Do I need a formal degree to be a Court Reporter?

Court Reporters, also known as Stenographers, are responsible for the written transcript of legal events, such as in trials, depositions or other judicial proceedings or meetings. Often, they use stenotype machines in which they can capture the spoken word through shorthand at speeds of up to 225 words per minute. Then, they transcribe the information into a written word document that is accessible for anyone to read. Stenographers also can be used in other capacities, such as in closed captioned television or other positions relating to the deaf or hearing impaired. They can also be used as interpreters or in the medical field, as medical transcriptionists. Due to the importance of everyone’s spoken word, stenographers must transcribe verbatim.

Does this sound interesting to you but, perhaps, you are wondering how many years of training you need or what sort of educational degree is required to be a Court Reporter? Suppose you just don’t have the time to invest in a four-year bachelor’s degree program. Well, the good news is, you don’t need a formal degree. Court Reporters typically earn a certification, taking one to two years to complete, in court reporting or stenography and they’re ready to go to work.

So, perhaps you do have time to earn a formal degree to increase your knowledge and improve your job opportunities. What then, you ask? Most community colleges and vocational schools offer associate degree programs, as well as certificate programs. The choice is really yours and, if convenience and flexibility are an issue, some schools offer these programs through an online format, too, making it very easy, for anyone who is interested in this field, to reach their goals. Keep in mind, whichever route you decide to take, it must be an approved training program to pursue a career as a Court Reporter.

Coursework may include classes in dictation and speed development, machine shorthand theory, reporting techniques, legal and medical terminology, along with, how to use stenography equipment and audio recording devices. You will also be trained in the use of proper English grammar, phonetics, spelling and punctuation, as well as, technical concepts, keyboarding and computer technology.

You must also hone your skills in listening, speaking, speedwriting, comprehension and concentration to be an excellent Court Reporter. You must also excel in proofreading, paying attention to details, having good communication skills, in addition to, excellent finger dexterity. Most employers require the ability to record 225 testimony words per minute, capture 200 jury charge words, as well as, 180 literary words per minute, all with a 98% accuracy rate. Excellent typing skills for a Court Reporter is mandatory. In some instances, you will have the opportunity to obtain hands-on training in a courtroom setting.

Although in some states, certification is enough to get started, other states require that you have a license to work in this field. Typically, to gain licensure, you must pass a test issued by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) called the Registered Professional Reporter exam, which includes both a written and skills portion to the test. Also, some states require that you become a notary public. You must complete continuing educational requirements to maintain your membership status with the NCRA. Additional certifications are available for those who wish to add to their credentials.

If you would like to learn more about this field, please see our choice for the Best Online Schools for Court Reporting.