Court Reporter: 10 Reasons it is a Good Choice for a Career Change.


court reporter view of the courtroom

If you grew up watching LA Law or the original People’s Court, you probably caught a glimpse of the court reporter typing away. At a crucial point in the trial, they could read back verbatim what was said in the courtroom. Pretty cool.

1. Skills: Accuracy is Their Super Power.

Court reporters provide an accurate account of court proceedings. They create word-for-word transcriptions at trials, depositions, administrative hearings, and other legal proceedings. They can also assist with real-time captioning for an event or meeting. 

Court Reporting requires attention to detail and good listening abilities. If you tend to zone out while someone talks, this is not the right career move for you.

Top Court Reporter Jobs

Court reporters, although a fly-on-the-wall are vital to the integrity of a legal proceeding. They are the eyes and ears of the meeting and record what the speakers say, their gestures, actions and their identification.

When the judge asks, they have to playback or read the transcript as needed. The transcript must be exact and serves as the official record of events.

3. Not All Court Reporters Work in a Courtroom.

a court reporter can also provide real-time captioning

Some of these professionals serve people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing by transcribing speech to text as the speech occurs.

These types of court reporters are called Broadcast captioners and communications access real-time translation (CART).

Many of these jobs are remote. The captioner listens by phone or by internet and types what they hear.

4.  Job Tools: A Stenotype Machine Is Still the Standard

Court reporters use different methods for recording speech, such as stenotype machine recording, steno mask recording, and electronic recording.

Because stenotype machines can create words by pressing a combination of keys, fast dialogue can be recorded. 

They also may use steno masks to transcribe speech. They speak into a covered microphone, recording dialogue and reporting gestures and actions.

Because the microphone is covered, others cannot hear what the reporter is saying. 

5. Where They Work: The Government

Court reporting people held about 15,700 jobs in 2018. More than half of them work for state or local government.

They work in office buildings, but they may have to travel to courthouses with a certain area. As mentioned earlier, broadcast reporters may work from home.

6. Education: Look to Your Community College

Many community colleges and technical institutes offer postsecondary certificate programs or associates degrees for court reporters. They study English grammar, phonetics, legal procedures, and legal terminology. 

They typically receive a few weeks of on-the-job training. Many states require those who work in legal settings to be licensed by a state or certified by a professional association.

Graduating from a court reporting program can take between 2 and 5 years.

NCRA Approved Court Reporting Programs

7. Certification is a Must 

Many states require court reporters who work in legal settings to be licensed or certified by a professional association. Licensing requirements vary by state and by method of court reporting.

The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) offers certification for court reporters, broadcast captioners, and CART providers. Currently, about half of states accept or use the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) certification in place of a state certification or licensing exam.

8. Downside: Being a Court Reporter is Stressful

This job can be stressful. You must be focused at all times, detail-oriented, listen and concentrate for long periods of time and like to write and edit. Courtrooms can be boring as lawyers dig into the details of a case. The high-profile cases for murder and abuse can be disturbing to hear. 

9.  Court Reporters Earn an Average of $57,000 a Year

The median annual wage for court reporters was $57,150 in May 2018. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,150, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $104,460. In state government, the median salary was $66,430. In local government, the median salary for court reporters was $60,450. 

10. Midlife Career Change: A Good Option for Steady Work

Employment of court reporters is projected to grow 7 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average. Driving the demand for court reporters are federal regulations that require captioning for media. The increasing number of older people who need assistance hearing is also fueling the increase.

You can receive training at your local community college and in 2-5 years get an entry-level job.

The biggest hurdle to becoming a court reporter is typing with accuracy and speed. If you want to become a Certified Realtime Captioner, you have to type 180 words a minute with 96% accuracy.  See the resources below for more information. 

More Resources

National Court Reporters Association

For more information on certification and legal resources, as well as becoming an electronic or digital reporter, visit

American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers

For more information on voice writing and certification, visit

National Verbatim Reporters Association

Tracey Lamphere

Tracey Lamphere, M.S. IMC is the editor of Job Affirmations, a publication that provides information and ideas to use mindfulness, positive affirmations, and visualizations to transform your career.

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