Do you enjoy typing away on a computer? Are you constantly trying to improve your speed? If this sounds like you, you could find an enjoyable career as a court reporter. These professionals record every word that is said in a court of law, and use their skills in other settings as well.Your job as a court reporter is important because you are responsible for making a record of trials, depositions, administrative hearings, and other legal proceedings. Using a stenotype machine, you will record dialogue as it is spoken. These machines work like keyboards, but create words through key combinations rather than single characters, allowing you to keep up with fast-moving dialogue.Working as a court reporter is an notable part of the legal process since the recording of events in a court of law is used for future appeals and cases filed. When people testify in a trial they are sworn in and vow to tell the truth, but having you there can help keep them accountable. For instance, if you knew someone was making a record of everything you said, it would make you very aware of what you say.
Salaries and Job Outlook*
Education and Training
To become a court reporter, you will need to receive training at a community college or technical institute. It is ideal for you to either pursue a certificate or your associate's degree in court reporting. Most court reporting programs include courses in English grammar and phonetics, legal procedures, and legal terminology. In these programs, you will also practice preparing transcripts to improve the speed and accuracy of your work.Most states require you to be certified by a professional association, such as the National Court Reporters Association. In many states, you can become certified by passing a certification exam and hitting a specific speed and accuracy on typing tests.
Valued Traits & Abilities
As a court reporter, you can work in more than just a legal setting. Due to your fast typing skills and ability to capture information efficiently, you're also needed to caption television shows and help those who are hard of hearing.
This job will enable you to use your abilities to provide captions for television programs (called closed captions). You will transcribe dialogue onto television monitors to help deaf or hard-of-hearing viewers view television programs. For instance, during a live broadcast of a comedy or drama, you will type the dialogue to be projected across the bottom of the TV screen.
Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) Providers
In this position, you will work primarily with deaf or hard-of-hearing people in a variety of settings. You will assist clients during board meetings, doctor's appointments, or any other events in which real-time translation is needed. For example, you may caption high school and college classes and provide an immediate transcript to students who are deaf or learning English as a second language.
Each type of court reporter works in a different environment and can have a very different schedule. If you work in a legal setting, you will most likely work in a courtroom full time during normal business hours ranging from 7 or 8am to 5 or 7pm.You have the option of becoming a freelance court reporter if having a flexible schedule sounds more appealing to you. This could work best if you choose to be a broadcast captioner or CART provider, since you can work remotely and create your own schedule.