Is stenography a dying art?

Court Reporter courses

There are currently 410 actively employed court reporters in Minnesota, including both stenographic reporters and voice writers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that number will increase six percent, or to 440 jobs, by 2018. You can expect to spend two to four years training to become a stenographic court reporter. Although there are no licensing requirements in Minnesota, you will need an associate degree or certificate in court reporting.

The following steps are common among those interested in becoming a court reporters in Minnesota:

A recent job opening for a court reporter in Minnesota’s First Judicial District offered an hourly salary of $19.70 to $21.17, which translates to an annual salary of $39, 936 to $44, 070, based on a 40-hour week. There is considerable wage variation depending on geographic location and degree of competition. Annual median court reporter salaries in different Minnesota cities are reported as follows:

  • Minneapolis and St. Paul – $54, 100
  • Eden Prairie, Lakeville and Minnetonka – $54, 100
  • St. Cloud – $52, 170
  • Duluth – $49, 561
  • Rochester – $48, 935

Step 1. Earn a Court Reporter Degree or Certificate

The 70-credit-hour judicial reporter courses offered in Minnesota generally takes two years to complete although additional time might be needed to bring your typing speed up to the minimum requirement of 225 words per minute (wpm). You will spend considerable time learning to write effectively on a real-time stenotype system. A remedial English class may be a prerequisite depending upon your placement test score. Courses include:

  • English (writing, grammar, spelling)
  • Business Law
  • Computer Technology
  • Machine Shorthand Theory
  • Legal and Medical Terminology
  • Courtroom proceedings and practices

A great deal of emphasis is placed on increasing typing speed. Programs also incorporate both a mandatory summer session and completion of an internship that must incorporate 40 verified hours of writing.

In addition to the right education and training, you will need certain abilities and skills in order to be a successful court reporter, including sharp hearing, finger dexterity, good proofreading skills, ability to concentrate and excellent grammar/spelling.

Explore Other Education Options Related to Criminal Justice and Legal Studies

Here you’ll find schools that offer certificate and degree programs well suited to a career in legal assisting, law office management and the paralegal profession.

Step 2. Decide Between “Official” and Freelance Court Reporting

Court reports are employed by federal, state and local courts, court reporting agencies or law offices. Court reporters who work directly for the court system are called “official” court reporters. The three branches of the Minnesota judicial system are:

  • Supreme Court
  • Court of Appeals
  • District (Trial) Courts

The Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals are part of the Minnesota Judicial Center located in St. Paul, Minnesota’s capital city. District courts include criminal and civil trial courts as well as such specialized courts as drug, truancy, traffic or divorce courts. There are district courts in all of Minnesota’s 87 counties; they are divided into 10 judicial districts which cover a different number of counties depending on population figures. The Fourth District Court is the most populous. Although it covers only one county, it includes Minneapolis and handles over 800, 000 cases a year, enough to keep many court reporters busy! The state’s second and third largest cities, St. Paul and Rochester, are in the second and third districts respectively.

In accordance with 2013 Minnesota statutes, a judge may appoint a specific court reporter to serve whenever that judge is presiding. This court reporter also acts as the judge’s secretary in all matters related to official duties. Official court reporters must post a $2, 000 bond which is filed (along with the oath of office) with the court administrator. Open jobs and applications for all Minnesota courts are described on the state court system employment website.

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