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Court Reporters

A court reporter must be accurate and detail oriented with good grammar and punctuation skills and have the ability to focus for long periods. Get started as a court reporter by mastering stenography, listening skills, legal terminology and courtroom protocol, and earning your postsecondary certificate.

The median salary for court reporters is $55,120 per year and the field is growing at a slower than average rate of 3 percent. Court reporters are responsible for creating word-for-word transcriptions at trials, depositions and other legal proceedings. They may work as employees of state or local governments, reporting agencies or as freelancers. They can also branch out into television captioning or provide services for people who are hearing impaired. The three main categories of court reporters include the following:

  • Courtroom reporters use stenograph machines to create a transcript of each word said during a trial or deposition to capture all conversations for the official record. These machines are not easy to master having, unlike a typewriter, 24 keys that can be pushed at the same time. Reporters must type at the speed of speech and be attentive to every detail. Community colleges and technical schools offer formal training in court reporting, which may result in a certificate or an associate degree. These certification programs prepare candidates to pass licensing exams and typing speed tests required by most states and employers.
  • Freelance reporters are self-employed and market their skills and certifications to a range of employers. Freelance work allows reporters to work as much or as little as they want, have a flexible schedule and work virtually, which may be perfect for your mobile military life. As a freelancer, you may decide to start by working for a court reporting firm that matches you with clients. But as you gain experience, you may decide to purchase equipment and start your own business.
  • Caption providers or remote captioning provides additional opportunities for employment. Caption providers often work from a home office, a plus for many military spouses. As a caption provider working for a firm or as a freelancer, you might create captioning for television or webcasts or provide subtitling in different languages, including English.

All court reporters must be extremely attentive to detail. Some reporters are required to be fluent in languages including Spanish, French, Italian, Creole, German, Russian, and Mandarin. Others may need to be familiar with technical, scientific, and medical terminology.

To learn more about court reporting careers, review the Research Occupations tool on MySECO and investigate your options. Take SECO self-assessments to make sure your skills and interests align with your career choice. Talk to others in the field and get their feedback. Once you have made the decision to pursue a career as a court reporter, you can explore the many tools and resources on MySECO to assist with education planning. College Scorecard is a great starting point for researching and selecting an education institution. You can also use the Scholarship Finder to locate funding relevant to the military community to help pay for classes. See if you are eligible for the My Career Advancement Account Scholarship to help with education or licensure costs.

Finding employment

Once you've met the education, experience and licensing requirements to become a court reporter, it’s time to find a job in your occupation. One of the first places to look is the Military Spouse Employment Partnership Job Search. Hundreds of partner employers have made the commitment to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses in portable careers.

You can also search your local state and national job bank for court reporter positions or use the MySECO Job Search Tools, which include the following:

Consider volunteering, if possible, or doing an internship and proactively networking to build your court reporting experience. Tell family, friends, co-workers and all others that you are hoping to be a court reporter and ask for contacts they might have who can help you build and expand your network.

Professional organizations and networking

You may wish to consider joining a professional organization in your career field to gain a better understanding of current industry trends in court reporting. Professional organizations are great ways to continue your education through workshops and conferences, which will add to your transferable skill set as you move. Networking with other professionals will give you an edge in meeting the right people who may have the connections you need to obtain an interview or restart your career at your new location. They may provide important information about available internships and jobs, additional learning opportunities, seminars, networking events, hiring fairs and more. Read The Value of Professional Associations for more information on how becoming a member can help enhance your career.

Next steps

Call 800-342-9647 and speak with a career coach to discuss career or education choices, searching for a job or overcoming challenges. Coaches are available to review your resume, practice interviewing, discuss networking or assist you in understanding employer requirements for this field.

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