Montana Court Reporters Association
Government statistics indicate that there are currently approximately 100 actively employed court reporters in Montana and the number of jobs is expected to increase 14 percent by 2020. Court reporters are either employed directly by the courts (official court reporters) or by other entities (freelance court reporters).
There is no formal licensing or certification requirement in Montana. However, the stenography skills and procedural knowledge needed can only be acquired by earning an associate’s degree or certificate in court reporting.
You need to take the following steps in order to embark upon a successful career as a court reporter in Montana:
Step 1. Attend a Court Reporter School Training Program
Although there are few schools physically located in Montana, there are several first-class, online court reporter training programs available to state residents. These schools allow you to complete your education from the comfort of your own home while saving both time and money. They offer the same classes and degrees as on-site schools.
In addition to the knowledge and skills that can be learned through formal education, the following qualities are needed in order to do the work of a court reporter:
- Able to sit in one position for extended periods of time
- Practice tact, patience and impartiality
- Exercise independent judgment
- Type fast and prepare complex documentation
- Be able to concentrate and focus for hours at a time
Once you have an associate’s degree or certificate you are qualified to apply for a court reporter jobs in Montana.
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. Get a Job as an Official Court Reporter or Work as a Freelance Court Reporter in Montana
Official court reporters are hired directly by a court and usually work with one judge.
The three-tiered Montana judicial system consists of:
- The Supreme Court
- District Courts
- Courts of Limited Jurisdiction
District Courts include a Water Court that adjudicates water rights, a Workman’s Compensation Court and 56 district courts in 22 jurisdictional districts served by 46 judges. They handle all serious criminal and civil trials. The Courts of Limited Justice consist of 84 City Courts, 61 Justice Courts and six Municipal Courts served by 112 judges. These courts deal with such matters as local ordinances, small claims and misdemeanor trials.
Some district courts have additional requirements for court reporter positions, including a valid Montana driver’s license, proof of automobile insurance and certification as a Notary Public. The latter involves obtaining a $10, 000 Notary Surety Bond (available from most insurance companies) and completing a certified training course. A notary public certification course can be taken online or by attending on-site classes which are offered at various places throughout the state at no cost.
Apply for official court reporter jobs with the particular court(s) you are interested in working for. The salary for entry-level court reporters in Montana varies between courts but averages $17.50/hour or $36, 400/year.
Freelance court reporters work in a variety of areas including:
- Municipal Hearings
- Board Meetings
- Working With the Deaf/Hearing Impaired
Potential employers of freelance court reporters include but are not limited to:
- Court Reporting Agencies
- Law Firms
- Insurance Companies
- Trade Unions
- Non-Governmental Organizations
- Video Conferencing Companies