7 Steps to Become a Court Reporter + Licensing Requirements

Court Reporters hold an important position within the legal system.

They must accurately transcribe the entire legal proceeding so that there is a permanent record for use in the future.

The transcripts they generate are used by judges, lawyers, jury members, and even the general public.

This record takes an event that happened today and leaves an accurate account of it many years in the future.

Work environments can include the courtroom, legal offices, government facilities, and even your home.

You may work for an organization or go freelance.

The options are many.

If you have a keen eye for detail, love the legal system, and want a variety of choices of places to work, becoming a court reporter may be the perfect job for you.

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How to Become a Court Reporter – Step-by-Step

Becoming a Court Reporter is a straightforward process.

Let’s take a look at the steps.

1. Decide Your Area of Interest

You may choose to work in the courtroom or for lawyers transcribing legal proceedings.

You may instead choose to provide transcriptions in the way of close-captioning for either the media or the deaf community.

2. Find a Program That Suits Your Needs

Many community colleges offer courses that can lead to preparing you for court reporting.

Some are in-person but there are online programs for court reporting.

Check out several programs to see which one fits your needs the most. Consider location, price, and what skills are covered.

The important thing to note is that any program must be approved by the National Court Reporting Association.

This group offers a complete list of programs that they have approved.

3. Graduate in Good Standing

Most programs require you to have a 95 percent accuracy rating in dictation, as well as passing all the other required courses.

A typical program lasts from 18 to 24 months.

4. Become an Intern

Your next step is to find and complete an internship to gain the necessary hands-on experience.

Your school will be beneficial in helping you find these opportunities.

Don’t forget to practice before the big test, use our court reporter practice test, it’s free.

5. Get Your License

While some states don’t require a license, the majority do.

Having a license helps you gain an advantage over other candidates in those states.

To get licensed, you will need to pass both a written test and a skills test.

6. Find Your Job

Joining a state or national court reporting group will help you find more job opportunities than simply pursuing job boards.

Take every opportunity to network.

Licensing Requirements of a Court Reporter

The licensing requirements to become a court reporter vary by state.

In most cases, however, you will need to have completed a post-secondary education in an approved program.

You must also complete a required number of hands-on training hours.

To get licensed by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), you will need to be able to type 225 words per minute.

The NCRA offers a Registered Professional Reporter title that requires passing an exam of four parts.

In some states, you will not only need to be licensed as a court reporter but also be a Notary Republic.

It is important to check out the specific requirements in the state you plan to work in.

Many states require court reporters to complete additional training every few years to continue being court reporters.

How Much Does a Court Reporter Make?

The pay of a court reporter will vary by the state you work in and the environment of your job.

However, in 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average court reporter’s salary was $63,560 a year.

This translates into $30.56 per hour.

This pay varies from a low of $22,440 in Ohio, to a high of $141,940 in Montana.

Online Court Reporter Programs

Des Moines Area Community College

This program offers an Associate’s Degree in Court Reporting.

The cost is $185 per credit hour, with the entire program lasting 84 hours.

You also need to pay for books, equipment, and supplies. An internship is also made available as part of the program.

The Community College of Alleghany County

This Pennsylvania-based school offers a certificate program that costs $126-$378 per credit, depending on whether you are from the state or based out of state.

You are also responsible for supplies and fees.

To graduate, you must reach at least 200 words per minute with a 97.5 percent accuracy.

You must also complete an internship.

Generations College

This two-year program leads to an Association of Applied Science in Court Reporting degree.

It also offers internships with some of the top legal firms in Illinois when you finish.

The entire cost of the program is $12,000 plus fees.

San Antonio College – Alamo District

This college offers a choice of programs in Applied Science.

The Associate’s degree costs $14,422, while the Level 1 course path costs $3412.

Graduates are expected to maintain 97 percent accuracy at the rate of 225 words per minute.

The Court Reporting Academy

This extensive program is one of the most affordable, but it focuses entirely on the dictation of legal documents and doesn’t include legal and medical terminology, court procedures, or English.

The four to six-week course covers 40 hours, split into 6 hours of learning modules and 12 lectures.

It also offers a weekly live seminar where students can interact with the professor.

The cost of the program is $695.

Stark State College

The Associate’s degree in this program can be pursued either part-time or full-time.

It also offers numerous internship opportunities that can be applied for.

The entire program runs 65 hours and costs $5,838 for every 30 credit hours.

You must also either rent or buy your dictation machine and software.

College of Court Reporting

This 85-hour course takes anywhere from 28 to 44 months, depending on whether you pursue it full or part-time.

It includes both legal and medical dictation, including terminology.

To graduate, you must exhibit 95 percent accuracy.

This program also offers financial aid and payment plans for those with a need.

Plaza College School of Court Reporting

The two-year Associate’s degree program at this school also includes certification.

You need to be able to accurately transcribe at 225 words per minute to graduate.

The cost is $580 per credit hour, which translates into $7,000 per semester.

This is one of the few programs that offers the certificate and the degree.

South Suburban College

This program is one of the most respected of its kind because of its strict graduation requirements.

The Associate of Applied Science degree includes the completion of 40 hours of verified internship.

You must also demonstrate the ability to work at 225 words per minute and you will be required to prepare a forty-page complete transcript as well as a one-page summary of what it contains.

The cost is $152 per credit hour.

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