Court reporters are responsible for writing transcripts for legal proceedings in trials, legislative meetings, and hearings. Whether they sit in the courtroom themselves or transcribe from audio tapes or video footage, they must provide an accurately written text that reflects exactly what has been said. These reports are used to document these proceedings and are often used by attorneys to help with their cases. It’s an important role and one that can offer a good salary to a talented and experienced reporter. If you’re interested in a career in court reporting, here are some things you will need to succeed.
To become a court reporter, you must first receive a college-level education. There are associate degree courses that are specific to this role and stenography, where you learn about legal terminology and procedures, technical dictation, and voice writing. These courses usually take 2 years to complete. There are online courses available to those who require a more flexible study or look at your local community college to see if they can offer a suitable learning program to suit your needs.
You will develop your skills for court reporting during your education, but you should work hard to refine the outside of your studies as well. Key skills that court reporters should have are good organization skills, attention to detail, typing, written and verbal communication, good concentration, and the ability to use audio recording devices and a stenograph. These will all be essential to your work, so you must refine these specific skills if you want to succeed in this role.
Work experience is invaluable for any career choice, but with this being a technical and specialist role, it’s even more important. You can apply for court reporting internships, and ask your tutors if they know of any opportunities available. You could also apply for a part-time position at a court reporting company while you study. Here you will see court reporters working on court transcriptions first hand, and get a better understanding of the demands of the job.
Get Your License
In the majority of the United States, you will be required to get a license as a court reporter before you can practice. To do this, you can become a notary public or a Certified Court Reporter, and you will also have to take a state board exam. Depending on where you live, you might have to take further examinations, so make sure you research your state’s requirements.
Once you have become a licensed court reporter, you should be able to find employment with a court reporting service. Alternatively, you can set yourself up as a freelance court reporter and these services are usually outsourced by the courts. However, some experience working for another company would be a good idea before you decide to become self-employed, as this will provide you with more confidence and contacts from your previous work.
Court reporting can be an interesting job and it’s also an essential role. To make a start in your court reporting career, follow the steps above.