Court reporters must give their full attention to the speaker and capture every word that is said.
Many community colleges and technical institutes offer postsecondary certificate programs for court reporters and simultaneous captioners. These workers typically on-the-job training; the length of training varies by type of reporting or captioning. Many states require court reporters and simultaneous captioners to have a state license or a certification from a professional association.
Many court reporters and simultaneous captioners attend programs at community colleges or technical institutes that lead to either a certificate or an associate’s degree. Either credential qualifies applicants for many entry-level positions. Certification programs prepare students to pass the licensing exams and typing-speed tests required by most states and employers.
Most court reporting programs include courses in English grammar and phonetics, legal procedures, and legal terminology. Students also practice preparing transcripts to improve the speed and accuracy of their work.
Some schools also offer training in the use of different transcription equipment, such as stenotype machines or steno masks.
Completing a court reporting program typically takes 2 or 3 years.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Many states require court reporters and simultaneous captioners to be licensed or certified by a professional association. Licensing requirements vary by state and by method of reporting or captioning.
The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) offers certification for court reporters and simultaneous captioners. Currently, about half of states accept or use the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) certification in place of a state certification or licensing exam.
Digital and voice reporters may obtain certification through the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT), which offers the Certified Electronic Reporter (CER) and Certified Electronic Transcriber (CET) designations.
Voice reporters also may obtain certification through the National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA). As with the RPR designation, some states with certification or licensing requirements accept the NVRA designation in place of a state license.
Certification through the NCRA, AAERT, and NVRA all require the successful completion of a written test, as well as a skills test in which applicants must type, record, or transcribe a minimum number of words per minute with a high level of accuracy.
In addition, all associations require court reporters and simultaneous captioners to obtain a certain amount of continuing education credits in order to renew their certification.
For more information on certification, exams, and continuing education requirements, visit the specific association’s website. State licensing and continuing education requirements are available on the state association’s or state judicial agency's website.
After completing their formal program, court reporters and simultaneous captioners must undergo on-the-job training. The length of training varies by type of reporting or captioning but typically includes training on the specific equipment and technical terminology that may be used during complex medical or legal proceedings.
Concentration. Court reporters and simultaneous captioners must be able to focus for long periods so that they remain attentive to the dialogue they are recording.
Detail oriented. Court reporters and simultaneous captioners must produce error-free work because they create transcripts that serve as legal records.
Listening skills. Court reporters and simultaneous captioners must give their full attention to speakers and capture every word that is said.
Writing skills. Court reporters and simultaneous captioners need a good command of grammar, vocabulary, and punctuation.