Being able to accurately transcribe spoken words is a highly valuable skill typically used in legal or business proceedings. Many who attend a trial may be amazed that an individual is able to type with such speed and accuracy to actually keep up with a conversation. There are a couple secrets that court reporting services use to keep up with the dialogue, but this is not to detract from the dedication and skill needed by professional court reporters.
Learning How to Type
Most of us use the typical alphanumeric keyboard often referred to as a “QWERTY” keyboard due to the layout of the upper-left letters that spell out the odd word. Court reporters instead use a stenotype machine. The stenotype keyboard was first invented by German inventor Karl Drais in 1830. The stenotype keyboard has far fewer keys than the familiar QWERTY keyboard, requiring the user to press multiple buttons at once to produce syllables; this shorthand typing method is what enables stenographers to type spoken words at speeds of up to 225 words per minute — the record according to the California Official Court Reporters Association was 375 words per minute.
Training as a Court Reporter
In order to become a court reporter, an individual must go through a court reporting education program and certification process. Court reporters in training typically spend up to 15 hours each week transcribing spoken words to develop the skills needed to become a professional court reporter as the individual must be able to type at least 225 testimony words per minute; there are other additional requirements that require a student to be able to transcribe 200 jury charge words per minute and 180 literary words per minute with a 95% accuracy rating. The time it takes for an individual to go through the court reporting education program and the entire certification process takes an average of 33.3 months with many factors varying based on each individual.
Getting Certified for Court Reporting Services
In the United States there are three court reporting associations that can certify a student: the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), the National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA), and the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT). Each association has different requirements for certification and different benefits for court reporting services. As of 2012 there were around 21,200 court reporters in the United States; employment for these positions is projected to grow by 10% over the next decade making it a fertile field for those with advanced typing skills. Court reporters ought to be keen listeners, experienced typists, and focused individuals — those who have these skills ought to consider contacting a certified court reporter program to get the certification needed to embark on this in-demand field.
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