Court Reporter Training
The amount of training required to become a court reporter varies with the type of reporting chosen. It usually takes less than a year to become a voice writer, while electronic reporters and transcribers learn their skills on the job. In contrast, the average length of time it takes to become a stenotypist is 33 months. Training is offered by about 160 postsecondary vocational and technical schools and colleges. The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) has approved about 70 programs, all of which offer courses in stenotype computer-aided transcription and real-time reporting. NCRA-approved programs require students to capture a minimum of 225 words per minute, a requirement for Federal Government employment as well.
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Some States require court reporters to be notary publics. Others require the Certified Court Reporter (CCR) designation, for which a reporter must pass a State test administered by a board of examiners. The NCRA confers the entry-level designation Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) upon those who pass a four-part examination and participate in mandatory continuing education programs. Although voluntary, the designation is recognized as a mark of distinction in the field. A reporter may obtain additional certifications that demonstrate higher levels of competency, such as Registered Merit Reporter (RMR) or Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR). The RDR is the highest level of certification available to court reporters. To earn it, a court reporter must either have 5 consecutive years of experience as an RMR or be an RMR and hold a 4-year bachelor’s degree.
The NCRA also offers the designations Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR), Certified Broadcast Captioner (CBC), and Certified CART Provider (CCP). These designations promote and recognize competence in instantaneously converting the spoken word into the written word.
Some States require voice writers to pass a test and to earn State licensure. As a substitute for State licensure, the National Verbatim Reporters Association offers three national certifications to voice writers: Certified Verbatim Reporter (CVR), the Certificate of Merit (CM), and Real-Time Verbatim Reporter (RVR). Earning these certifications is sufficient to be licensed in States where the voice method of court reporting is permitted. To get the CM or RVR, one must first earn the CVR. Candidates for the CVR must pass a written test covering spelling, punctuation, vocabulary, legal and medical terminology, and also must pass three 5-minute dictation and transcription examinations that test for speed, accuracy, and silence. Passing the CM exam requires high levels of speed, knowledge, and accuracy. The RVR measures the candidate’s skill at real-time transcription. To retain these certifications, the voice writer must obtain continuing education credits. Credits are given for voice writer education courses, continuing legal education courses, and college courses.
The American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT) certifies electronic court reporters. Certification is voluntary and includes a written and a practical examination. To be eligible to take the exams, candidates must have at least 2 years of court reporting or transcribing experience, must be eligible for notary public commissions in their States, and must have completed high school. AAERT offers three types of certificates—Certified Electronic Court Reporter (CER), Certified Electronic Court Transcriber (CET), and Certified Electronic Court Reporter and Transcriber (CERT). Some employers may require electronic court reporters and transcribers to obtain certificates once they are eligible.
In addition to possessing speed and accuracy, court reporters must have excellent listening skills, as well as good English grammar, vocabulary, and punctuation skills. Voice writers must learn to listen and speak simultaneously and very quickly, while also identifying speakers and describing peripheral activities in the courtroom or deposition room. They must be aware of business practices and current events as well as the correct spelling of names of people, places, and events that may be mentioned in a broadcast or in court proceedings. For those who work in courtrooms, an expert knowledge of legal terminology and criminal and appellate procedure is essential. Because capturing proceedings requires the use of computerized stenography or speech recognition equipment, court reporters must be knowledgeable about computer hardware and software applications.
With experience and training, court reporters can advance to administrative and management, consulting, or teaching positions.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook
Court Reporter Work in General
Court Reporter Working Conditions
Court Reporter Employment
Court Reporter Training
Court Reporter Job Outlook
Court Reporter Earnings
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