Becoming a court reporter and then actually being a court reporter is more difficult than you may think. Court reporters have a very important job and the field is quite competitive.
A court reporter is also known as a court stenographer. They are transcription specialists that are responsible for making written records or different meetings, proceedings and interviews that are held between lawyers, clients and judges. They have to make sure that the records are 100% accurate and complete. All conversations, speeches and other spoken words have to be exact because the records are considered legal evidence. Court reporters are often also responsible for providing real time captioning during web casting for different kinds of video programs. They may also provide a translation service for those that are hard of hearing or deaf. Usually, however, court reports are employed by federal and state governments in order to work in courts or other legal fields. There has been an increase in the number of criminal and civil hearings in recent years so there are more legal records that need to be maintained. Because of this, the employment opportunities for court reports has also gone up and will continue to rise in future years. The last recorded annual salary by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was almost $50,000. The increased employment opportunity and high started pay rate is why more people are becoming interested in the field of court reporting. In case you are one of those people, here is how you go about being a court reporter.
First thing to do is to choose an area of concentration.
There are several different pass that you could take within the court reporting career so you should find which field interests you the most before starting the court reporter program. Each program will have the same basic structure in order to prepare the students to take the necessary tests to become licensed or certified. However, there are schools that divide up their court reporter programs in order to teach students specific areas of the field. For example, you could take a judicial reporting class which will teach you how to take records of court proceedings, depositions and administrative hearings or you could take a broadcast captioning class which will teach you how to provide live feeds to a broadcast network as well as many other areas.
Next: Prepare for the court reporter program by buying the necessities.
Before you start the program you will need to buy your own stenotype machine which can cost anywhere from $100-$250. Because you will need to learn to read paper notes, most schools will not endorse a paperless writer. You may also need to procure a model computerized writer which can be anywhere from $400-$2000. The software may cost anywhere from $100-$500 extra. You will also need to take entrance exams in order to be excepted into the program. The entrance exams usually consist of typing and English.
Finish up by completing the program.
The court reporter program link depends on the area of concentration that you have chosen. For example the stenography court reporting program will take 33 months to complete while others may only take 24. These programs are available in community colleges as well as actual court reporter schools. You may end up with an associates degree from it or it may be simply a professional diploma or certificate, it depends on the institution where you complete the program. Court reporting programs tend to be pretty flexible and offer online courses as well as evening classes in order to accommodate different kinds of lifestyles.
One extra step is to make sure that you meet all licensing requirements.
Once you have completed the program and past, you will have to make sure that you meet the necessary state licensing requirements. Some states may require a separate written examination and skill test before being a court reporter while other states have no licensing requirements at all.
Being a court reporter requires a firm grasp on the English language as well as an ability to type and right in shorthand as well as much more. Now having all this information, you can decide whether or not this is the right path for you to start on.