Whether you were watching a TV police drama or sitting in a real courtroom, you have most likely noticed that one individual in the corner who has been tasked with recording the conversations in the courtroom as they occur. Although many people lack knowledge of this career path, it is more than attainable and can be quite rewarding for the right individual. How do people get into a career of court reporting, and what tasks are required along the way to ensure that they will be able to find a position? If court reporting is your passion, and any of these questions have been on your mind, here is a brief guide to outline the path you will need to take to become a certified court reporter.
What does the job involve?
Court reporters, also known as stenographers, are the professionals who record verbatim every word. The tools of this trade can be as simple as a pen and using shorthand, which is made up of a number of abbreviations. However, in larger settings such as during a trial, reporters use a steno machine. It resembles a small typewriter and contains 22 keys. Within a court atmosphere, typing at a rapid pace is necessary for recording every word. In fact, many court reporters can type as fast as 300 words per minute. Everything from arguments to live testimony must be correctly documented and then transcribed in a timely manner. For example, if a witness says one thing to the police but in court testifies something different, the discrepancies need to be examined. Such information can be vital in a trial. Courts may require other documentation besides the written word. Video specialists are hired to record testimonies. And at times, translators and interpreters for nonnative speakers are required.
Where can you work?
You can work full time as one of the court reporters in West Palm Beach or lend your services through freelancing. Stenography is quickly growing, and you can find other areas to use your talents. The National Court Reporters Association, or NCRA, states that in 2018, almost 6,000 more court reporters would emerge to work for the many places that need their skills.
One group of stenographers, known as broadcast captioners and communication providers (or CART: communication access real-time translation), provide help for the deaf or hearing-impaired. These fast-paced typers give viewers closed-captioning in real time or for prerecorded programs. Both of these CART providers can work remotely, which helps you work for those extra hours during breaking news briefs and live programming. Voice writing is another career option to pursue with your stenography certification to help the hearing-impaired. CART uses a headset that is connected to a computer, and then the spoken word is run through a program that uses speech recognition software.
To become a court reporter, you can find community colleges or schools online to help you obtain your degree. If you haven’t been to college or taken classes, you don’t need to worry. You can prepare for online classes by filling out online learning self-assessment. This field requires great focus and a strong knowledge of the English language, including a great grasp on grammar and spelling. To complete your coursework, you need to type 225 words per minute. Salary numbers for these jobs can begin at $35,000, but in 2016, some reporters were said to be making almost $100,000.