Court Reporters

“The Wikipedia of Law”

Court reporters

Court reporters Duties

Court reporters, sometimes referred to as stenographers, have generally the following duties:

  • Attend legal proceedings and other public events where they create word-for-word transcriptions of the events.
  • Create word-for-word transcripts of courtroom procedures.
  • They may also record depositions
  • They may also provide reports of public meetings and speeches
  • They may also even create closed captions for television programs.
  • In addition to reporting the words spoken during the proceedings, court reporters might include actions and gestures made by participants.

Other Information

Court reporters use several techniques to create the records they produce; each method requires different training and different certification. Court reporters may use stenotype machines, covered microphones into which the reporter repeats the words of everyone in the courtroom and describes their actions, or digital voice recording.

Some court reporters work outside the legal system, providing closed-captioning and other transcription services for the benefit of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Legal Transcribers provide a hard copy of dictation given to them by an attorney, while court reporters transcribe verbatim words spoken at actual court proceedings and in legal depositions.

Court reporters in the United States

Court reporting is an important part of the legal system, in proceedings inside and outside of the courtroom. To become a court reporter, the interested person must complete a mix of academic requirements about court reporting and hands-on experience with court-reporting devices.

Each state has its own requirements for becoming a court reporter, some of which include obtaining a license from the state. The information on becoming a court reporter in a particular state may be obtained from the state licensing agency, a court reporter’s association, or a junior college or trade school that offers court reporting courses.


Court reporters are needed at the state, local and federal level, as well as by the business support services industry. Court reporters who worked at the federal level earned average annual wages of $55,680 while those at the state level earned $55,240 per year. Court reporters at the local level made $57,830 while those employed in the business support services industry earned annual wages of $48,760.


Court reporters typically need formal training from a technical institute or community college. Training can last from six months to four years, depending on the program being pursued, and can lead to a diploma, certificate, associate degree or bachelor’s degree.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 14 percent growth in new job opportunities for court reporters between 2010 and 2020. Candidates who are graduates of a court reporting program and those who are trained and proficient at Communication Access Real-Time Translation should have the best employment

State Certification

Most states require court reporters to be licensed or certified. Some states mandate that court reporters pass a state certification test. Twenty-two states will accept national certification in place of state certification.

National Certification

The National Court Reporters Association offers a number of certifications for court reporters and captioners. To be certified as a Registered Professional Reporter, the interested person must type at least 225 words a minute on a stenograph machine.

The stenograph machine works like a typewriter, but types groups of letters to form words more quickly than typing each individual letter. The interested person also must pass a written test consisting of 105 multiple-choice questions about different aspects of court-reporting duties. The court reporter has 90 minutes to complete the written test, and must score 70 or above to receive certification.

Additional Certification

In addition to the Registered Professional Reporter certification, court reporters can earn certification from the National Court Reporters Association as a Registered Merit Reporter, which confers a higher level of certification than the Registered Professional Reporter certification. Or the court reporter can test for certification as a Registered Diplomate Reporter, a Certified Realtime Reporter or a Certified Broadcast Captioner.

Each of these certifications consists of a combination of a written knowledge test and a skills test. Advanced certifications beyond Registered Professional Reporter can lead to more job opportunities or higher pay.


See Also

Court reporter
Court Hierarchy in the legal system
Court Reports
Judicial Training
List of United Kingdom Court Reports

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