Becoming a Court Reporter or Stenographer

The need for licensed and certified court reporters is growing at a tremendous pace. It is a career choice worth serious consideration. If you are thinking about becoming a stenographer you probably want to know what kind of schooling and training it will take. The most common degree for stenography is an associate's degree in court reporting. The average student completes their degree and training in about 33 months. Many times you will need to attain certain speeds on your steno writer to move onto the next class. Common course topics will include legal terminology, machine shorthand and theory, transcription and auditory language skills. In addition to these courses you will be required to take academic classes such as business law and anatomy. Students should look for programs approved by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). Internships are also a requirement for graduation, so make sure the stenography program you are considering has court practicing reporters supervising the internships. While some students choose to get an associate's degree, others choose to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree. Many times a practicing stenographer will go back to school to complete their bachelor's degree. A bachelor's degree will help a court reporter get into management and educational positions. You will need to verify what courses from your associate's degree are transferable.

Becoming a Specialized Court Reporter

There are also specialties you may choose from in stenography training. These include closed captioning for the hearing impaired, engineering and medical transcriptionist. Closed captioning is an exciting and expanding field working in television. As a student you will want to verify if the programs you are considering offer the specialty you are interested in.

Additional Requirements to Be a Stenographer

Many states have their own certification and licensing examinations. There are nationally recognized certification tests that are widely accepted in most states. One of these test is given by the NCRA, it is called the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) examination. To pass you will take a series of speed test and you will need to attain a minimum speed of 225 words per minute. Practice is essential to improving your speed times, so you will need plenty of time and patience for practicing outside of class. Because court reporters are responsible for swearing in a witness they need to also pass the Notary Public exams.

There are many great stenography schools offering both day and evening classes. A lot of these same schools offer online classes, so there are options for every student's schedule. With an estimated 25% growth, and high salary averages, court reporting is a career choice worth considering.