Court Reporting Career Paths

There are several different areas in which court reporters can work and earn above average income, approximate national average, according to CNN, range from $61,800 to more than $100,000+ per year; however, based on the amount of work and transcripts produced the amount that may be made depends on an individual basis. A professional Certified Court Reporter is the key information manager of our judicial system and is responsible for the verbatim legal record. There are several primary areas where the skills of the reporter are needed:

Official Court Reporters record the proceedings of a trial. Their transcripts are used by attorneys, both during the trial and, if necessary, later in the appeals process. Official court reporters are employed on a full-time basis and generally receive a base salary and benefits plus transcript fees for their work.

Freelance Court Reporters may be either self-employed or work for a reporting agency. Their reporting assignments range from board meetings and stockholders’ meetings to depositions, arbitrations, and conventions. The largest part of their work generally involves depositions or examinations taken before trial. Freelance reporters are paid on a per-page and attendance-fee basis by the attorney, company, or individual requiring their services. Freelance reporters have the benefit of a more flexible schedule to coincide with their lifestyle.

Hearing Court Reporters record the proceedings of local, state, and federal agencies. These positions are usually full-time civil service careers and offer fringe benefits in addition to a regular salary.

Legislative Reporters record speeches and debates in Congress and State Legislatures. Reporters are also employed by the United Nations and various governmental agencies to report meetings and debates.

Captioning for the hearing impaired is usually done at the television stations for hearing-impaired viewers, which enables them to enjoy television programs and keep them abreast of the daily news and current events.

Cart Reporters accompanies students of all grade levels to their classrooms and writes, in realtime, the lectures of the instructors in high school and/or professors in college enabling the hearing impaired student to read the translation on the monitor screen. At the end of the day a transcript of the class is available for the student.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How long does it take to become a Court Reporter?
A. The length of time it takes for a student to complete the court reporting program depends solely on the student. Since students are learning a physical skill, completion of the course will vary from student to student. It also depends on the amount of time a student devotes to practicing and building speed to approximately 240wpm.

Q. What is “theory”?
A. The theory is the most important course in your court reporting program, because it is the very foundation on which you will build speed to approximately 240wpm. The theory that you learn is the method by which you learn the letters of the keys on the keyboard of the writer (court reporting machine), and how to use these keys, singly and in combination. These keys may be stroked one at a time or several at a time to represent certain letters, numbers, phonetic sounds, a word, a brief form, a phrase, etc...

Q. What is “realtime”?
A. “Realtime” is the translation of steno notes into English as they are being written by the Court Reporter. This is accomplished by the advent of the state-of-the-art technology that Court Reporters now have available to them. First, the Court Reporter had to learn a “realtime” theory, which is what the Stenomaster Theory represents. As the Court Reporter writes on the translation steno machine to the electronic dictionary that correlates with the realtime theory, which is installed on the computer, the dictionary tells the translation software, which is also installed in the computer, which English word or words it represents. This all happens instantly, and the words show up on the computer monitor in English for all to read. This is how the Court Reporters write “daily copy,” closed captioning, and CART.

Q. What is the difference between the Stentura 400 and the Protége?
A. Both of these are translation writers and are very good student writers. The only difference is the Protégé has a visual window that reads the amount of battery power remaining at any given time.

Q. What do I do when/if I have questions while studying the program?
A. Unlimited email help and support is offered to the students should you have any questions or problems. We are here to help you succeed and to help you accomplish your court reporting career goals.

Q. Is a college degree required to be a Court Reporter?
A. No, a college degree is not required. The only requirement is to become “state ” certified – if your state requires certification.

Q. Do I have to attend an “accredited” school to be a Court Reporter?
A. No. The word “accredited” means that a school meets the minimum standard requirements (of a national accrediting commission) in order to be qualified to offer federal financial aid to students.

Q. Do I have to attend any school to become a Court Reporter?
A. No. No employer will ever ask you where you attended school. They will ask if you are “certified,” which is the only requirement to work in a certified state.

Q. Do I have to take a state test?
A. Only if your state requires certification. However, it is recommended that all students who complete a court reporting program take the National Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) exam. Some states may accept the RPR in lieu of the state test; some states will not.

Q. How much money do Court Reporters make?
A. The national average annual income for Court Reporters is $61,830, and may be as high as $100,000+.

Q. How difficult is it to get a job as a Court Reporter?
A. Due to the fact that there is a shortage of Court Reporters, Captioners, and CART writers throughout the United States, it will not be difficult to find employment.

Q. What does a Court Reporter do?
A. Court Reporters may work in several areas:

  • Officials are the Court Reporters who work in Court.
  • Freelance Court Reporters take depositions in various places such as attorneys’ offices, doctors’ offices, business offices, etc...
  • Closed Captioning for television broadcasting and CART writers write for the hearing impaired.
  • Reporting in the House of Representatives.

Most all of these positions require “realtime” writing by the Court Reporters.

Q. How will I know if I am progressing in the program?
A. There are dictated tests on CD’s at each speed level included in the Self Study Court Reporting package. After you transcribe your test, you may listen to the recording again to grade your paper. However, please remember that testing is done on an “Honor System,” and if you do not abide by the “Honor System,” you are only hurting yourself and you will NOT pass the state or national tests.

Q. Is everything included in the package that I will need to learn court reporting?
A. Yes, everything is included in the package with the exception of the software. We cannot sell you the software because it is non transferable and it comes with a "key" from the vendor. (We can help you with this item). Let me explain what this is for: Realtime writers are in great demand within the United States and the software is what works with the writer, that is included in the package, along with the "electronic" dictionary (included in your package) that you download into your computer. When you write a stroke or a phrase on the machine, the dictionary reads the stroke and sends the word to the software to be changed from steno to English on your computer screen. In other words, all your strokes will translate into English as you are writing it. That is what is called "realtime," which is what is in demand.

If you choose to NOT purchase the software and want to learn steno without learning realtime, then you do not need to buy anything else. This package is complete with everything else you need to learn steno; however, I highly recommend that you become a "realtime" writer in order to meet the demand.

Q How do I know if I have what it takes to become a court reporter?

If you possess the following principles, then you have a head start on your chosen career path to court reporting:

  • DESIRE – You must have a strong, solid desire to become a court reporter.
  • DETERMINATION – You must be a persistent and determined individual who lets nothing stand in your way of accomplishing your goals of becoming a court reporter.
  • DEDICATION – You must be dedicated enough to put forth the time and effort required to accomplish your goals of becoming a court reporter.
  • DISCIPLINE – You must have enough motivation and self discipline to make your career goals a priority.
  • DESERVE – If you possess the above attributes, then you must be a winner; so you deserve the rewards of being a successful court reporter.


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