All About Court Reporting
From the court room to the deposition suite to broadcast television, court reporters, deposition reporters, and captioners make it happen! Launch a professional career that's crucial to the legal field, challenging, and well-paid. There are literally global job opportunities awaiting you.
No doubt about it -- court reporters provide a needed service in the legal community. But did you know that they also provide communications access for the hearing impaired? Think about it... people with hearing loss can now gain access to the world via the unique skills of a court reporter. You can be an independent contractor receiving a 1099 at the end of the tax year, work as a county employee for a court room, or even start your own court reporting firm. The possibilities for having the job you've always wanted have never been more numerous.
Court reporters are part of exciting court trials as well as make history -- word for word. They report high-profile trials and even caption presidential inaugurations!
Facts About Court Reporting:
What Do Court Reporters Earn?
- Court reporters earn an average of $60,000 or more per year. (Including broadcast captioners and deposition reporters.)
- Captioning of television programs (done live) is done by highly specialized court reporters called "broadcast captioners." U.S. Federal law mandates captioning of literally 100s of hours of TV programming (live) each week, creating copious career opportunities for individuals with these skills.
- Many court reporters use a method of captioning to offer individualized services for the deaf or hard-of-hearing via Communication Access Realtime Translation. CART reporters go with deaf clients as required to college classes to instantly translate speech into written words. The demand is so high for this type of skill that court reporting companies that provide this type of service cannot keep up with the demand.
- Only a minority (about 27%) of the court reporters in the United States actually work in court rooms. The vast majority are freelance reporters (1099 contractors) who are used by attorneys to produce word-for-word transcripts called depositions during the discovery phase of cases.
- Court reporting job opportunities will most likely grow as fast as the average for all occupations through 2012. (Source: The U.S. Department of Labor)
Court reporters had median annual earnings of $42,920 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $30,680 and $60,760. The lowest paid 10 percent earned less than $23,690, and the highest paid 10 percent earned more than $80,300. Median annual earnings in May 2004 were $41,070 for court reporters working in local government.
Both compensation and compensation methods for court reporters vary with the type of reporting job, the experience of the individual reporter, the level of certification achieved, and the region of the country. Official court reporters earn a salary and a per-page fee for transcripts. Many salaried court reporters supplement their income by doing freelance work. Freelance court reporters are paid per job and receive a per-page fee for transcripts. CART providers are paid by the hour. Stenocaptioners receive a salary and benefits if they work as employees of a captioning company; stenocaptioners working as independent contractors are paid by the hour.
The above citation is courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos152.htm#earnings
How To Become A Court Reporter
Let's be candid about this: becoming a court reporter requires a serious level of commitment, effort and money. It's not easy but the rewards make it more than worthwhile!
Most students start at a court reporting school. Typically, these are private business colleges located in large metropolitan areas. Please see this link to view a list of approved schools by the NCRA
. The course of training and practice takes most people several years.
Most of the painstaking work is in the development of the skill of transcription during live dictation. You begin slowly and then ramp up to speeds of above 200 words per minute. Accuracy and endurance are required to take down hours of rapid speech with dense material.
You will also need to either rent or purchase your equipment. A stenographic keyboard is needed during the training. Most students rent or buy a used manual machine (as opposed to a computer writer) for their initial schooling, but upon entering the job market, professional quality equipment is a must. Now days the equipment utilized by court reporters is an electronic stenographic writer, a desktop PC, a printer, a laptop PC and the software to run on the computers which translates the keystrokes into English on the screen.
Also, since most court reporters are 1099 contractors, home office equipment and space is required, plus a fax machine, extra telephone line or two for fax and business calls. An internet connection is a must for doing research for those hard-to-find words.
A new court reporter is facing several years of diligent study as well as approximately five to ten thousand dollars worth of equipment.
Many states require a license. In states where court reporters have to be certified, you have to pass the state certification exam. Other states where certification is not a must, the exams to satisfy the National Court Reporters Association can certify a court reporter has achieved a proper level of proficiency.