Similar Titles

Certified Shorthand Reporter (CSR), Court Monitor, Court Recording Monitor, Court Stenographer, Deposition Reporter, Digital Court Reporter, Official Court Reporter, Realtime Court Reporter, Stenographer

Job Description

Most of us know the basics of how a courtroom operates from seeing it in films and TV shows! But did you know that, per US law, every court session “must be recorded verbatim” by a Court Reporter? Court Reporters use equipment such as stenography machines to capture every spoken word at any legal proceeding that occurs in a court session. 

These transcripts must be thorough and completely accurate because attorneys and judges often refer back to them. They also contain an index, a listing of visual exhibits used, and references to physical gestures or acts. While some proceedings allow for electronic reporting (i.e. recording) or voice writing, stenography is still the preferred method and requires typing speeds of ~200 words per minute. But Court Reporting duties extend beyond the courtroom, too, such as recording other types of legal proceedings, helping keep records organized, and responding to requests. 

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Creating accurate records of courtroom proceedings for later reference
  • Learning about the inner workings of the legal system
  • Serving as a vital part of the American system of justice
2021 Employment
2031 Projected Employment
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Working Schedule

  • Official Court Reporters work full-time, though freelance reporters may only work part-time.

Typical Duties

  • Use stenograph machines, steno mask voice recording equipment, or digital recording devices to capture live dialogue while the court is in session
  • Capture dialogue from video or audio recordings played in court as evidence
  • Assist with recording depositions, hearings, meetings, chambers proceedings, dissolutions, and other processes 
  • Take written note of gestures, actions, or emotional reactions in court
  • Request clarification from speakers, as needed
  • Read back portions of the transcript in court, when requested
  • Keep track of visual exhibits used during proceedings
  • Review and proofread transcripts; verify accuracy and fix errors, typos, misspellings, incomplete entries, etc.
  • Index notes and disks; store transcripts and provide copies to authorized attorneys, judges, or citizen requestors, as authorized
  • Submit transcripts to the appropriate clerk’s offices
  • Creat court orders for judges to view or sign
  • Work with scopists who can aid with the transcription editing process and 

Additional Responsibilities

  • Enter information into relevant databases
  • Comply with secure records management filing policies
  • Collaborate with other court staff, including judges, attorneys, clerks, interpreters, and bailiffs, as needed
  • Update software or equipment 
  • Stay up to date on special terminology 
  • Field phone calls and emails 
  • Maintain professional certifications through continuing education and exams
Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills

  • Active listening 
  • Attention to detail
  • Concentration
  • Independent
  • Monitoring
  • Organized
  • Patient
  • Reliable
  • Resourceful 
  • Strong communication skills 
  • Time management
  • Writing

Technical Skills

  • Expert usage of stenograph machines, stenomask voice recording equipment and software (such as HTH GoldenEar Voice Writing System and Nuance Dragon), and digital recording/computer-aided transcription equipment
  • Knowledge of shorthand 
  • Time accounting software such as TimeLedger
  • Legal database interface and query programs such as Acclaim Legal
  • Routine clerical and administrative duties such as records management 
  • Familiarity with applicable legal and governmental policies related to the courtroom
Different Types of Organizations
  • Business support services
  • Courthouses and legislatures 
  • Self-employed; freelance workers
Expectations and Sacrifices

Court reporting can be tiring and stressful at times, and there’s no room for errors. Reporters must be able to sit still and focus for long periods, capturing information live, verbatim, and without mistakes. For those who are self-employed, there may be a need to spend time and money to advertise services and travel to sites where the work is to be done. This may involve commuting long distances or staying overnight in a hotel. When work is time-sensitive, Court Reporters may have to put in overtime to conduct reviews and ensure the accuracy of transcriptions. 

Current Trends

As with many career fields, Court Reporters’ roles will increasingly be impacted by the advancement of technology. To date, courtrooms still rely on reporters and stenographers, but their jobs are frequently done with digital assistance such as AI-enable software. 

In time, digital tools may ultimately reduce the need for persons to capture dialogue live in court. But for now, things seem stable, perhaps in part because of the rigorous standards reporters must meet in terms of typing words per minute and accuracy rates (approximately “200 words a minute with an overall accuracy rate of 97.5%”).

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…

Court Reporters are often avid readers, a habit developed in their younger days. They might have taken typing classes at an early age, and may have practiced by writing blogs or stories. Some grew up watching courtroom dramas on TV, and wanted to be part of that experience in real life! 

Education and Training Needed


  • Court Reporters don’t need a full college degree, but most receive formal training via a certificate program or associate’s degree at a local community college or vocational school 
    • Per O*Net, 75% have a certificate, while 12% have an associate’s. 5% started working with just a high school diploma
  • Common classes focus on topics such as shorthand, grammar, phonetics, spelling, punctuation, vocabulary, stenotype machine typing, medical and legal terminology, anatomy, court reporting procedures, ethics, captioning, transcript production technology, legal procedures, and digital tools usage
  • Students must work hard to increase their typing speed using steno equipment 
  • Programs can take up to two years, or longer depending on the skills being learned
  • Some programs feature apprenticeship or internship opportunities to gain real-world practical experience
  • New hires can expect a few weeks of general On-the-Job training to get familiar with local procedures and commonly used terminology 
  • Several states require Court Reporters to obtain a license or third-party certification to work
  • Note—a certificate from a college or vocational school is not the same thing as a certification from a third-party organization
  • Court Reporter certifications are offered by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). NCRA certs include: 
  • Voice Reporters are a type of Court Reporters who “write” using their voice, speaking into a stenomask or speech-silencing mask. Voice Reporters can get certified by the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT) or as a National Verbatim Reporters Association - Certified Verbatim Reporter
  • All of the above certifications require passing a written exam and a hard skills test requiring a minimum number of words to be typed, transcribed, or recorded. There’s also a minimum accuracy percentage that must be obtained
  • Certifications must be periodically renewed through continuing education courses
  • Each state has its own requirements. Some accept certification from one of the above third parties in lieu of state exams. Please check with your respective state’s judicial agency for details! 
  • Not all states require licensure, but employers may nonetheless want to see proof of third-party certification
Things to look for in an University
  • Court Reporters don’t need to attend a university but may complete a certificate or program from a community college or vocational school
  • Find out if the program has partnerships with local employers 
  • Decide if you’ll attend a program on-campus, online, or via a hybrid method (i.e., a mix of both)
  • Look for school-sponsored scholarships, as well as private scholarships, federal or state grants, and other financial aid opportunities. Apply for federal student aid using the FAFSA to see what kind of offers you qualify for 
Things to do in High School and College
  • In high school, Court Reporters should try to excel in all English classes, as well as biology, information technology, and typing
  • Apply for part-time jobs, internships, or apprenticeships where you can gain real-world experience in the field
  • Get some practice with scoping and proofreading via Stenovate and other sites
  • Reach out to working Court Reporters to request an informational interview. Many will be happy to talk to you about the job!
  • Attend a public trial to watch the proceedings and get an idea of what to expect
  • Check out local job postings ahead of time, to learn about the most common application requirements
  • Decide if you want to get a certificate or associate’s degree, and whether or not you want to attend classes in-person, online, or a mix of both
  • Think about whether you want to focus on stenography or voice writing, and whether you’re interested in learning how to do closed captioning or communication access real-time translation (CART)
  • Figure out if there is a particular niche you’re interested in, such as reporting for medical cases or criminal trials 
  • Some employers may prefer to hire graduates of National Court Reporters Association-approved Court Reporting programs
  • Review the different third-party certification options available. See which ones you qualify for and knock them out when you’re ready!
Typical Roadmap
Court Reporter Roadmap
How to Land your 1st job
  • Make sure you meet your state’s licensure requirements, if applicable
  • Scan popular job portals like, the NCRA’s job board, the US Court Reporter Association job board, and your local courthouse’s website 
  • Look for internship or apprenticeship opportunities as well as job openings 
  • Be sure you have the right certification to meet the job post’s requirements (for example, NCRA’s Registered Professional Reporter
  • Update your LinkedIn profile with all of your Court Reporting skills and academic achievements  
  • Consider joining a professional organization where you can make connections. Court Reporting is a relatively small career field and, generally speaking, ~85% of jobs are found through networking
  • Talk to your training program manager or school’s career center to see if they have connections with courthouses or other legal entities who recruit graduates
  • If you live in a small town or rural area without a lot of work opportunities for Court Reporters, consider relocating to a larger city 
  • Become familiar with the legal terminology of the field, and also any specialized vocabulary for the types of cases you will work with (for example, medical or legal terminology for reporting)
  • Review Court Reporter resume templates for ideas for formatting and phrasing
  • List your work experiences in reverse chronological order and make sure each bullet point explains the impact of your achievement 
  • Add relevant keywords to your resume, such as:
    • Court proceedings
    • Courtroom proceedings
    • Legal terminology
    • Litigation
    • Transcription
  • Include proof of your words per minute (WPM) typing speed and accuracy levels, if possible 
  • Describe any experiences you have with transcribing and dealing with legal proceedings such as hearings or trials 
  • Talk to previous supervisors or teachers and ask if they’re willing to serve as personal references. Get their permission first before giving listing them as contacts
  • Study Court Reporter sample interview questions and always dress for interview success
  • Do some mock interviews with a friend to get practice. Have an idea of how you’d answer questions such as “How would you fix an error you made while transcribing?”
How to Climb the Ladder
  • Depending on your employer, there may not be a lot of room for advancement after you land a job as a Court Reporter 
  • Always show up on time and ready to focus. Court Reporters are heavily relied upon for their diligence and dependability 
  • Talk to your supervisor about raises and promotion opportunities. Let them know you’re willing to seek additional certifications or education, as needed
  • If you have a certificate, go for an associate’s degree. If you have a third-party certification, get a new one that can broaden your skills and qualify you for more jobs
  • Study the terminology of the field and expand your vocabulary so you’ll be familiar with more words when you hear them spoken aloud
  • Collaborate efficiently with attorneys, judges, and staff members. They can put in a good word for you! 
  • Always keep working on improving your stenography typing speed and accuracy rate
  • Get familiar with the latest technological advancements such as AI-enabled software 
  • Study industry magazines and attend professional organization events where you can grow your network and learn new things!
Plan B

The field of Court Reporting can be stressful and physically demanding because of the long periods spent in a stationary position, typing on a small machine. It is a relatively small field, so jobs may be limited in many areas. But if you enjoy administrative or clerical work, below are a few similar occupations to consider!     

  • Administrative Assistant
  • Correspondence Clerk
  • Court, Municipal, and License Clerk
  • Interpreters and Translator
  • Legal Secretary
  • Medical Transcriptionist
  • Paralegal and Legal Assistant


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