Do you enjoy the poetic precision of language and grammar? Do you have excellent hearing? Are you a keen listener? If you answered 'yes' to all of these questions, court reporting may be a satisfying career for you.
Court reporters, also called stenographers or transcriptionists, are highly-skilled professionals who transform live speeches, testimony, lectures, television broadcasts and other events into seamless and objective text-based records. Court reporters are not just glorified typists. They must rapidly translate complex, important proceedings into reproducible, formal documents with extremely high rates of accuracy.
Although the discipline has become very high-tech in recent years, human intelligence has not been replaced by technology in transcription. Computers can turn human sounds into type, but with nowhere near the accuracy and speed of a real person expertly versed in the idiosyncracies of human language, from accents to mumbles and implied meanings.
As a crucial interface between people and technology, court reporters turn depositions and proceedings in the courtroom into error-free documents, write up court logs, and note appearances and major events during trials. Often, transcriptions will be used to resolve communication disputes in the courtroom.
Court reporters must always be responsible and ethical professionals, producing unbiased and verbatim versions of events. Legal-sector reporters work for public courts providing services as part of the municipal legal team, for private law firms and also stenographer contracting agencies.
Beyond the courtroom, realtime stenographers may create closed captioning in TV and broadcasting, transcribe shareholder meetings, or write realtime texts for universities with hearing- or visually-impaired students. Increasingly, realtime reporters work on the web, providing transcription services for webcasts, teleconferences and remote depositions.
Court reporting schools may be accredited by state boards as well as national and international agencies like the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, or ACICS. It's important for students to know, however, that the NCRA, or National Court Reporters Association, grants highly-credible Certification to programs on the basis of judgments made by CASE, its Council on Approved Student Education.
The NCRA is not an accrediting agency, but all NCRA-certified programs are approved by the state-of-practice and formally accredited by entities recognized by the federal Department of Education. Moreover, state licensure may depend on passing the NCRA's Registered Professional Reporter, or RPR, examination.
These aligned goals make institutional NCRA Certification a good proxy for accreditation. Attending an NCRA-approved program is clearly the most straightforward route to becoming a professional court reporter because credentials are issued through the NCRA. There are 60 court reporting schools in the country that are approved by the NCRA, according to the organization.
A Certified Court Reporter, or CCR, usually refers to a reporter who has received state licensure. However, the nature and nomenclature of licensing varies by state. Different legal and appellate systems, too, maintain their own rules. Once again, NCRA Certification is a useful guide for identifying court reporter schools that comply with their respective states' requirements.
Many states require students to pass the RPR exam to become licensed. In some cases, they will also need to pass state- or jurisdiction-specific exams that additionally test for written knowledge of subjects like legal procedures, ethics, grammar, computer technology and stenographic theory. Note that some states want court reporters to be notary publics because their job may require them to take oaths from witnesses during depositions.
Court reporter school can take as few as six months for a basic certificate, and as long as four years for a full bachelor's court reporting degree. Technically, it's not necessary to attend an NCRA-approved school - or any school for that matter, in some states.
Most individuals who can learn these skills on their own are free to do so, but attending an educational program is the easiest way to become oriented in the field and polish one's skills to a professional level.
Certificate recipients can work as voice reporters and e-transcriptionists without passing the RPR. But to be a real court reporter, each student needs to acquire an RPR, or Registered Professional Reporter - the principal nationally-recognized entry-level credential in the discipline. Credible reporter training schools must first and foremost teach students sufficient skills to pass the RPR exam.
Basic training programs should teach students to transcribe machine shorthand on a stenotype. Once students have mastered the basics of shorthand, they will spend as much time as it takes to build up high levels of accuracy and speeds of at least 225 words per minute.
A professional stenotypist is usually expected to have completed 2-4 years of postsecondary education, although a formally certified skill set is the most important prerequisite for employment. Forbes named court reporting one of the best careers in the nation that doesn't require a bachelor's degree.
Realtime certification, signified by the CRR, is a fundamental way to advance one's career. "Realtime" refers to virtually instant translation of machine shorthand into complete English. Reporters with a CRR - Certified Realtime Reporter - credential are able to write in realtime at between 180 and 200 words per minute for a sustained period. Translations appear on a screen for live viewing by others within seconds of the words being spoken.
Realtime reporting is a nationally-recognized advanced skill that can open up doors for stenographers. Federal courts, for example, and many state courts offer salary increases for CRR certifications. According to Atkinson Baker, a leading employer of court reporters, "realtime makes court reporters irreplaceable."
Additionally, NCRA has added several other credentials in the last decade in response to technological trends, including:
- Certified Broadcast Captioner (CBC)
- Certified CART Provider (CCP)
- Registered Merit Reporter (RMR)
- Registered Diplomat Reporter (RDR)
- Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS)
- Certified Reporting Instructor (CRI)
- Master Certified Reporting Instructor (MCRI)
- Certified Manager of Reporting Services (CMRS)
- Certified Program Evaluator (CPE)
We found 121 schools offering court reporting degree programs in the U.S.
|Aib College of Business||Des Moines||IA||875|
|Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute||Albuquerque||NM||17265|
|Alvin Community College||Alvin||TX||3665|
|Arlington Career Institute||Grand Prairie||TX||383|
|Atlantic Technical Center||Coconut Creek||FL||1570|
|Broward Community College||Fort Lauderdale||FL||27389|
|Brown College of Court Reporting||Atlanta||GA||234|
|Brown Institute of Court Reporting and Business||Longview||TX||53|
|Business Informatics Center Inc||Valley Stream||NY||35|
|Career Colleges of Chicago||Chicago||IL||122|
|Central Michigan University||Mount Pleasant||MI||26845|
|Central Penn College||Summerdale||PA||1370|
|Charles A. Jones Skills and Business Education Center||Sacramento||CA||4132|
|City College of San Francisco||San Francisco||CA||39386|
|Clark State Community College||Springfield||OH||2808|
|College of Court Reporting Inc||Hobart||IN||99|
|College of Legal Arts||Portland||OR||112|
|College of Marin||Kentfield||CA||8317|
|College of the Redwoods||Eureka||CA||6986|
|Community College of Allegheny County||Pittsburgh||PA||15556|
|Concordia University - Wisconsin||Mequon||WI||4603|
|Cooper Career Institute||West Palm Beach||FL||207|
|Court Reporting Institute||San Diego||CA||10|
|Court Reporting Institute - Wheeler Institute of Texas||Dallas||TX||501|
|Cri Career Training||Seattle||WA||287|
|Cuyahoga Community College District||Cleveland||OH||19518|
|Davenport University||Grand Rapids||MI||2322|
|Davenport University - Central Region||Midland||MI||1694|
|Daytona Beach Community College||Daytona Beach||FL||10420|
|Del Mar College||Corpus Christi||TX||9936|
|Denver Academy of Court Reporting - Main Campus||Westminster||CO||213|
|Eagle Gate College||Murray||UT||38|
|El Paso Community College||El Paso||TX||18001|
|Elsa Cooper Institute of Court Reporting||Southfield||MI||96|
|Everest University - North Orlando||Orlando||FL||867|
|Ferris State University||Big Rapids||MI||9847|
|Franklin College of Court Reporting||New Orleans||LA||80|
|Gadsden State Community College||Gadsden||AL||4787|
|Gateway Community College||Phoenix||AZ||7895|
|Gateway Technical College||Kenosha||WI||5741|
|Gogebic Community College||Ironwood||MI||1106|
|Green River Community College||Auburn||WA||6566|
|Hagerstown Business College||Hagerstown||MD||776|
|Hohokus - Hackensack School of Business and Medical Sciences||Hackensack||NJ||266|
|Houston Community College System||Houston||TX||40929|
|Humphreys College - Stockton||Stockton||CA||593|
|Huntington Junior College||Huntington||WV||463|
|Illinois Central College||East Peoria||IL||11053|
|Illinois Eastern Community Colleges - Olney Central College||Olney||IL||1648|
|Institute of Legal and Medical Professions||Melbourne||FL||65|
|International Business College||Lubbock||TX||661|
|Iverson Business School and Court Reporting||Arlington||TX||141|
|James H Faulkner State Community College||Bay Minette||AL||2775|
|Johnson & Wales University||Providence||RI||9172|
|Kelsey - Jenney College||San Diego||CA||679|
|Key College||Dania Beach||FL||168|
|Lakeshore Technical College||Cleveland||WI||2742|
|Lansing Community College||Lansing||MI||16011|
|Las Vegas College||Henderson||NV||429|
|Lee County High Tech Center North||Cape Coral||FL||120|
|Lenoir Community College||Kinston||NC||2057|
|Long Island Business Institute||Commack||NY||96|
|Macomb Community College||Warren||MI||22001|
|Madison Area Technical College||Madison||WI||14474|
|Massachusetts Bay Community College||Wellesley Hills||MA||4458|
|Metropolitan College||Oklahoma City||OK||90|
|Miami Dade College||Miami||FL||46834|
|Midlands Technical College||West Columbia||SC||9702|
|Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College||Perkinston||MS||8768|
|National School of Technology Inc||Miami||FL||544|
|New York Career Institute||New York||NY||473|
|Northeast Mississippi Community College||Booneville||MS||2796|
|Northland Pioneer College||Holbrook||AZ||5096|
|Northwood University||Cedar Hill||TX||1014|
|Oakland Community College - Bloomfield Hills Campus||Bloomfield Hills||MI||23188|
|Orleans Technical Institute - Center City Campus||Philadelphia||PA||184|
|Pennsylvania Highlands Community College||Johnstown||PA||1050|
|Pensacola Junior College||Pensacola||FL||9985|
|Prince Institute of Professional Studies Inc||Montgomery||AL||94|
|Professional Career College||Richardson||TX||258|
|Rasmussen College - Eden Prairie||Eden Prairie||MN||67|
|Rogers State University||Claremore||OK||2640|
|Rose State College||Midwest City||OK||7471|
|Sage College||Moreno Valley||CA||348|
|Saint Louis Community College - Meramec||Kirkwood||MO||12518|
|San Antonio College||San Antonio||TX||19253|
|Sarasota County Technical Institute||Sarasota||FL||963|
|Sheridan Technical Center||Hollywood||FL||1487|
|Shirley Baker Career Institute||Houston||TX||163|
|Siena Heights University||Adrian||MI||1972|