The duty of a court reporter is to document the proceedings of court sessions. The documentation and recording done during the hearing of a case sets the course for any further action that may be taken with respect to that case. Court reporters have duties not only while they are in the court but also during interrogations, depositions, and any other legal proceedings which require documentation. Everyone involved in court proceedings heavily rely upon the court reporters. The documentation must be very accurate and the notes are often referred to by attorneys and judges. There are several methods of court reporting, the most common being stenography. Other methods of court reporting are electronic reporting and voice writing. All of these require different skills, but training is normally provided for all of them because all methods are used by court reporters.
Court reporters can work for the city, state, federal government or as freelancers. The starting salary normally ranges from $20,000 to $25,000 and it increases proportionately with experience and skills learnt. Those who are proficient in court reporting can find jobs in captioning and transcription as well.
The work environment for a court reporter is normally comfortable. Most court reporters work 40 hour per week. The possible exception would be freelance reporters whose work hours depend on personal schedules.
The factors that determine the cost of a course in court reporting include the duration of the course, specialization, school, and mode of studying either online or campus courses. The cost varies from $1,000 to $3,546 per semester.
You can pursue a certificate course or degree in court reporting. Court reporting programs teach students the language of court-reporting and instruct them on how to use the court reporting machine or stenotype. The core of the curriculum is made up of various classes in computers, law, typing, medical terminology, and English. It can take two to four years to complete the training. Strong typing skills and excellent hearing are necessary to become a court reporter. You should also have general understanding of computers. Miami Dade College, West Valley College, SUNY College of Technology, and Colorado Technical University are some colleges that offer courses in court reporting.
Testing & Preparation
There are no specific preparations or tests that need to be undertaken to enroll yourself in a court reporting course. Basic knowledge of computers, proficiency in English, and a keen sense of hearing are added advantages that will serve the aspirant well during the course of study.
There are not many institutions that offer financial aid for its students. National Court Reporters Foundation lists scholarships that are specifically available to budding court reporters. The alternative means of funding the program cost are available in the form of Direct loans, Stafford loans FAFSA, and the Federal Work Study (FWS) program.