Anyone who wants to become a court reporter will follow a similar academic and career paths. This means that they must graduate from an approved program, accumulate relevant work experience and depending on the state, obtain licensure and certification.
Earn a Degree
Many online and traditional technical schools and community colleges offer two-year degrees in areas like court reporting and stenography, which teach students how to use computers and stenotype machines for closed and broadcast captioning and judicial reporting. Degrees in court reporting and voice writing teach students how to speak into special steno mask devices that translate their words through voice recognition software programs. Students are expected to able to perform a two-voice transcription at least 90 to 150 words per minute (wpm).
There are also general certificate programs that can be completed in approximately six to 12 months. Regular court reporting or stenography programs usually can be completed in two years and result in an associate's degree. These degree programs usually include classes in legal systems, procedures, and terminology. They also cover court reporting procedures, technical dictation practices, and voice writing technology. Some programs offer court internships or freelance externships.
Develop Core Competencies
Court reporters need strong communication skills to quickly and accurately use English words, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Their data and information management skills will help them compile, label, store, transcribe and examine content for quality. They work under minimum supervision and may be responsible for expensive equipment. They will make independent decisions regarding the specific tools, machines and work aids to be used during each legal event or meeting. This means they need excellent technical skills to handle laptops, peripherals, software programs and digital recording equipment.
The complexity of their work requires court reports to maintain constant attention to dialogue while maintaining close attention for accurate results. They must have the ability to concentrate in noisy or busy environments while performing work according to established legal guidelines. They are also expected to review transcriptions for possible legal notes or recommends. They must sometimes use math to compute rates, ratios, and percentages. Court reporters must also maintain awareness of court proceedings in order to enforce public safety standards.
Gain Work Experience
Court assistants help court transcribers and reporters to monitor digitally recorded court proceedings. They may annotate previously recorded and non-annotated court proceedings as needed. Court assistants help edit and prepare draft copies of transcripts in compliance with applicable standards and regulations. They may assist with monitoring audio quality, generating duplicate audio recordings and sharing approved CD and DVD copies of trials, depositions, and court hearings.
They may be tasked with performing daily tests of digital court recording equipment located within various courtrooms in the morning prior to the start of court proceedings. They may trade out improperly functioning equipment and archive CDs and DVDs of daily courtroom proceeding records. Court assistants may provide reporting services during court proceedings, such as the playback of recordings in court for judges or referees. They will also perform clerical tasks, like maintaining log books of activities, keeping accurate records of requests and processing received orders.
Anyone who wants to become a court reporter should obtain certification through the National Court Reporters Association, such as the Registered Professional Reporters (RPR) credential, or the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers, such as the their Certified Electronic Reporter (CER) and Certified Electronic Transcriber (CET) credentials.