If you are interested in certified court reporting and would like to know how to accomplish this skill you should first know exactly what certified court reporting entails and all the facts regarding this profession. A court reporter also called a stenographer or stenotype operator is someone who transcribes spoken or recorded speech into written words generally using shorthand. They provide written transcripts of court cases and other official proceedings.
There are three national court reporting associations in America, the NCRA (National Court Reporters Association), the NVRA (National Verbatim Reporters Association), and the AAERT (American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers. Although very similar, each individual association has their own criteria for gaining certification in areas such as accuracy, speed, and verbatim, to name a few.
Keep in mind that this isn’t a ?get certified in a few months? type of program, the process to become a court reporter actually takes about 33.33 months to complete. Becoming certified with a court reporting association like the ones listed above is a rigorous ordeal, usually requiring 2-4 years of school before getting certified, below is a quick look into what the educational requirements are for pursuing a career in certified court reporting.
- High school: You must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted into any court stenographer program or college courses. You generally cannot start preparing for this field in high school because an available elective relating to court reporting would be extremely rare.
- Associates: Your next step will be to acquire an Associates degree with the field of study being court reporting or live captioning. Because the process takes around 33 months to complete a lot of community colleges and tech schools will offer an extended program for court reporting. They will train you to use the necessary equipment for the job, as well as educate you in terminology and court procedures. A couple requirements for certification may be the ability to type 225 words per minute and maintain an accuracy of 98%, which will take many hours of practice, to say the least.
- License: Most states require you to obtain a license, which is understandable considering the need for high accuracy in this position. The qualifications vary from state to state, some require you to simply be a notary, others will need you to pass an exam and in some instances, a certification from an association like the NVRA is acceptable in lieu of the license.
- Certification: You will need to obtain a certification for one of the associations I mentioned earlier in the article and as with all certifications it will need to be renewed regularly, usually every two years.
Because court reporters transcribe hearing, depositions, and witness statements that help to verify testimony certified court reporters must be very precise in their work, it is imperative that there are no mistakes in the process. Even one small mistake in a document could mean the difference for someone spending a lot of time in jail or have other negative consequences depending on the situation. Even though the job title is a court reporter, over 70% of the nation’s court reporters don’t actually work inside of a courtroom, they also work outside the court for any situation that may require an official legal transcript and many also do freelance stenographer work.
Some certified court reporters will end up joining a court reporting firm, these businesses provide court reporter services to clients who need a stenographer for meetings, depositions, and many other instances. They generally keep several stenographers on staff and the individual jobs themselves are on an as needed basis. Since the firm usually holds contracts with clients who need court reporters regularly they are basically finding the job for you, for a percentage of course.
Because of all the necessary skill requirements and the need for perfection, the process for certified court reporting is very strenuous and not for someone who can’t commit to the dedication and focus needed to acquire this skill. If you’re still interested in this field after knowing how arduous, not to mention tedious, the undertaking of getting your certification can be, then good luck and happy reporting.
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