Getting into the field of court reporting can be an incredibly fulfilling career. Beyond getting to be involved in helping facilitate court cases, court reporters can make a great income, with some reporters making close to $80k a year depending on where they live and work. Here’s what you need to know about getting started as a court reporter.
Degree requirements for court reporting
While some job descriptions explicitly ask for applicants with a four-year degree, the field of court reporting will often accept individuals with only their associate’s degree. This is because employers know that finding a university that offers a four-year program in court reporting is difficult, but associate’s programs are far more common. The typical degrees you will want to pursue are either programs in stenography or in court reporting itself. As you look for specific schools, make sure to find a college that has been accredited. Being accredited by an institution like the National Court Reporters Association can be a major boon to your career after college. The NCRA sets many national standards for court reporting and is a trusted voice in the field, so enrolling in a program that measures up to their standards is crucial if you want to succeed after graduation.
Useful electives to take
While an associate’s program will have different credit requirements from school to school, there will undoubtedly be some electives that you can choose from as you craft your schedule for each semester. The courses you choose are all up to you and your advisor, although there are a few strategic moves you can make to as you think ahead to your career post-graduation. For example, if you know that you want to use your court reporting skills in the courtroom, it’s probably a good idea to take that extra criminal justice course. By the same token, if you’re mostly interested in stenography as a way to provide open or closed captioning services and help individuals with special needs, taking courses in special education, hospitality, or even American Sign Language may be a better fit for your schedule and goals, since those are the venues you’ll most likely use your skills beyond the courtroom.
The importance of certification
Getting certified as a court reporter is one of the fastest ways to get ahead in a competitive job market. There are several different certification tests you can get, ranging from certifications that qualify you as a Registered Professional Reporter to roles as a Certified Legal Video Specialist, Registered Diplomate Reporter, or Certified Realtime Reporter. All of these certifications have different national standards, meaning that Miami court reporters and reporters in other cities across the country all fit a certain criteria to qualify for these certifications. As Laura Ohman, a registered professional reporter, claims on the National Court Reporters Associaton’s website, having a certification from the NCRA “definitely puts you at the top of the list” when you’re looking for a job as a transcriber or captioner. Getting a specialized certification helps to differentiate you from other job seekers and also shows your seriousness in your role. By investing time into studying for and passing any reporting test, you illustrate that you are skilled and invested in the career field you’ve chosen. You can even take all of the certification tests you’d like, allowing you to really level up your resume and make yourself a competitive job candidate in a wide range of roles.
With an average salary of around $50k and the ability to qualify for the job with only an associate’s degree, becoming a court reporter can be a great career choice for someone who types well and loves the legal system. Make sure to take the right classes in college and get a certification or two, and you’ll be well on your way to having a successful and fulfilling career.