Ever since the statistics regarding the court reporter salary were revealed, students from all over the country have become increasingly interested in court reporting. Several community colleges as well as technical institutes provide programs for court reporting including postsecondary certifications. However, mostly, for a court reporter a proper education and the appropriate degree are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to qualifying as one. This is mainly due to the fact that several states have made it necessary for court reporters working in legal environments to have appropriate licenses and certifications from professional associations.
What does a court reporter do? The answer is quite simple. First and foremost, students should understand the entire process of becoming a court reporter. For those wondering how to become a court reporter, the complete procedure mainly includes the following stages:
- Education: The individual must receive education and earn a degree from a college or institute.
- Licensing: This typically involves a test by the NCRA after which the applicant is awarded a license.
- Certification: The individual must apply for certifications from various organizations.
- Registration: The applicant must get their name enlisted as an officially recognized and registered court reporter.
- Training: On the job training which lasts for a short period, is also necessary for a court reporter.
- Qualification: A basic set of skills and expertise which are a must for every court reporter.
Education Required for Court Reporting
If one questions how to become a court reporter, it goes without saying that the first step in the process is education. Several court reporters receive their formal training from technical institutes or community colleges. There are various kinds of programs that offer associate’s degrees or certifications in the profession. All kinds of entry-level positions require applicants to have either an associate’s degree or a certificate as their primary qualification. With certification programs, students can prepare to successfully pass licensing tests as well as typing speed exams which are necessary as per the requirements of several employers and states.
Court reporting programs generally consist of courses in phonetics, legal terminology, legal procedures, and English grammar. Students are also given training in the preparation of transcripts which assists them in improving their work’s accuracy and speed. Furthermore, a few schools also offer training regarding utilization of various transcription machines, including steno masks and stenotype machines.
Which License Should a Court Reporter Have?
A large number of states have made it necessary for court reporters working in legal settings to have appropriate licenses and certifications from professional associations. Although the licensing requirements are found to vary in states and courts, it is still considered obligatory for court reporters, regardless of the states they’re from or the courts they’re working in, to apply for licenses and certifications.
The National Court Reporters Association (or NCRA) provides certification for several professions including real-time captioners, CART providers, as well as court reporters. In order to be certified as a RPR (i.e. Registered Professional Reporter) one needs to complete a written test along with a skills test based on 3 parts. During these tests, applicants have to complete a minimum amount of words on a per minute basis.
Must-Have Certifications for Court Reporters
As of now, a total of 22 states consider RPR certification instead of a licensing exam or state certification. In order to have their certification maintained with the NCRA, it is necessary for court reporters to complete online training as well as their classes.
Voice and digital reporters can be rewarded certification from AAERT (i.e. the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers). This association provides certification in CER (Certified Electronic Reporter) and CET (Certified Electronic Transcriber). Both these certificates can be obtained after successfully completing a written test along with a skills test.
Voice reporters can also be rewarded certification from NVRA (the National Verbatim Reporters Association) whereas licenses for specific states and continuing requirements for education can be located on the state association’s official website.
Court Reporting Training
Upon completion of their formal degree programs, court reporters also have to complete on the job training sessions which usually last for short periods. Typically, these short term training sessions teach additional skills. The training also provides sufficient information regarding the more technical work and terminologies that are generally associated with court reporting during legal or medical proceedings which are complex in nature.
Important Qualities for a Court Reporter
A court reporter needs to be well qualified and possess a certain set of qualities which are regarded extremely important in the profession. These are generally common traits which even people from other professions may possess. However, for court reporters, these qualities are quite crucial. These important qualities typically include the following:
- Detail Orientation: This is the most crucial aspect of a court reporter’s job. A good and reputed court reporter needs to produce work which is completely error-free and easily understandable for those who use it as a reference. This is mainly due to the fact that the work that court reporters create is used for legal records.
- Concentration: Court reporters are necessary to concentrate for longer periods. As such, they are required to pay close attention to their work and remain entirely focused on the proceedings they are to record regardless of any auditory distractions during the process.
- Clear Listening: It is an absolute must for court reporters to have proper listening abilities. Without the ability to pay full attention and stay focused on whatever the speakers are saying, court reporters cannot capture each and every word being said. As such, it is crucial for the reporters to have clear listening abilities.
- Grammar: It goes without saying that the court reporter must have a strong command on punctuation, vocabulary, and grammar. It would be considered highly unprofessional to find common punctuation mistakes, poor grammar, or misspelled vocabulary in a court reporter’s transcript.
- Typing Skills: Legal proceedings are usually quite fast paced with quick exchanges of words. As such, it is crucial for court reporters to be as quick as possible with their typing skills. It wouldn’t be ideal to have one lag behind during the proceedings and miss out on important dialogue.