Job Universe: Court Reporters

Employment of court reporters is projected to grow 25 percent.

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  • The job: Court reporters usually create verbatim transcripts of speeches, conversations, legal proceedings, meetings, and other events. Sometimes they provide written accounts of spoken words necessary for correspondence, records, or legal proof. They play a critical role not only in judicial proceedings but also at every meeting where the spoken word must be preserved as a written transcript. They are responsible for ensuring a complete, accurate, and secure legal record. Many court reporters assist judges and trial attorneys in a variety of ways, such as organizing and searching for information in the official record or making suggestions to judges and attorneys regarding courtroom administration and procedure.
  • Outlook: Employment of court reporters is projected to grow 25 percent, much faster than the average for all occupations between 2006 and 2016. Demand for court reporter services will be spurred by the continuing need for accurate transcription of proceedings in courts and in pretrial depositions, by the growing need to create captions for live television, and by the need to provide other real-time broadcast captioning and translating services for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
  • Experience: The amount of training required to become a court reporter varies with the type of reporting chosen. About 130 postsecondary vocational and technical schools and colleges offer training. The National Court Reporters Association has certified about 70 programs. Some states require voice writers to pass a test and to earn state licensure. In some states, court reporters must be notary publics. Others require the certified court reporter designation, for which a reporter must pass a state test administered by a board of examiners. In addition to possessing speed and accuracy, court reporters must have excellent listening skills and hearing, good English grammar and vocabulary, and punctuation skills.
  • The not-so-good: Work in this occupation presents few hazards, although sitting in the same position for long periods can be tiring and workers can suffer wrist, back, neck, or eye strain. Workers also risk repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. In addition, the pressure to be accurate and fast can be stressful.
  • Pay: Court reporters had median annual earnings of $45,610 in May 2006.

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This information is from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.