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What Do Court Reporters Make?

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Court Reporters are highly trained and well paid!

Becoming a court reporter is one of the best paying careers for women (and men). A court reporter's job is to capture live speech and then transcribe it to the written word. About a third of court reporters work full-time for a court (receiving a salary and benefits), and two-thirds are freelancers who are hired by lawyers to take pre-trial depositions.

In both cases, the court reporters are paid for the time they spend taking down testimony and then for the transcripts they create, which may be purchased by each party in a case.

Rates for freelancers vary widely, but the pay for official court reporters is a matter of public record. On the high end, experienced court reporters can earn up to $88,171 working for the California State Supreme Court, according to one survey. On top of that, they can earn more for the transcripts they create, which can bring their earnings above $100,000.

The transcript rate in California ranges between $3.00 and $4.50 a page for ordinary turnaround and $6.00 and $8.50 per page for daily delivery.

Six hours of testimony works out to about 250 pages, per the National Court Reporters Association.

In terms of training, you'll need between two and four years of education at a court reporter school. And the more certifications you can earn thereafter (there are about 10), the more desirable you'll be for hire.

Court reporters have to be very proficient with the computer technologies of their trade, have strong English skills, and a strong vocabulary in the areas they're working in. They must be able to concentrate for long periods of time and meet very tight deadlines.

In addition to the hours spent taking down testimony and creating a written transcript, court reporters must spend prep time programming their software and equipment so that they're prepared to handle the terminology specific to an upcoming case, which in many instances can be highly technical.

Southern California has a highly regarded court reporting school, South Coast College of Court Reporting. This is the school where Todd Olivas attended and taught.

Click here to read an informative PDF brochure about what it takes to become a court reporter.
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