Court Stenographer Job Description
Court reporters use stenotype machines to record everything said.
The law requires accurate recordings of all official legal proceedings in a courtroom and for some other public settings. Open legal proceedings are an important part of the American jurisprudence system. Court reporters, or court stenographers, transcribe what is said at legal proceedings and public events. Word-for-word transcription of everything that happens in a courtroom is a difficult job, and court stenographers receive extensive training in the use of stenotype machines so they can keep up with rapid dialogue.
Court stenographers entering the profession are generally required to complete a two- to four-year associate's degree program before becoming licensed to practice. Stenography training programs include phonetics and grammar, courtroom procedures and legal terminology. Stenography students also spend a great deal of time practicing with a stenotype machine, and learning how to prepare and edit transcripts.
Most states (and all federal courts) require court stenographers to be licensed. You must meet your state's educational standards and pass a licensing exam to become a licensed court stenographer. The National Court Reporters Association offers a certification program where you can become a Registered Professional Reporter. Earning RPR certification requires passing a written and a skills test, where you must demonstrate the ability to type at least 225 words per minute.
Related Reading: Entry-Level Legal Transcription Jobs
Court stenographers use a stenotype machine to record everything said in a courtroom. Stenotype machines work by using key combinations to form whole words, rather than having to type out every letter in a word. Court reporters also detail the gestures and actions of participants, and review and confirm speakers and technical terminology, as well as edit for accuracy. The transcript of the court stenographer becomes the official legal record of the proceeding.
Pay and Prospects
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, court reporters earned an annual median salary of $47, 700 as of May 2010. Future employment prospects are good for court reporters, with 14 percent job growth projected in the field from 2010 to 2020.