Learn Stenography

A court reporter is responsible for making sure every single word in a legal, or medical proceeding is taken down and a transcript (a verbatim record of the entire conversation) is created. They do this using a short hand machine called a steno writer. It has an abbreviated alphabet (phonetic alphabet) and groups of letters to stand for different phrases. Learning stenography is actually like learning a new language. The languages are called theories and one of the main theories is the stenograph theory.

Learning Stenography Theory

Words are written down by sound, syllable, and spelling. For example, if you were to write the word "cat" on a typewriter or regular keyboard, you would type it in a three-step process, "c", "a", "t". On the steno machine you would write "KAT" by pressing all three keys in one stroke. The stroke "KAT" would translate as "cat" in the transcript. The keyboard of a steno writer is arranged into three sections. The left section writes initial sounds of words only, the middle to bottom section writes all vowel sounds between the beginning and final sides, and the right section writes final sounds of words. So you are able to write "KAT" in one stroke.

Combinations of letters are used to represent those letters that are not on the keyboard. Hence why it is called "shorthand", you are using shortcuts to write letters or words. The numbers are written by striking certain letters along with a number bar that is located above the letter keys. To become certified most states require you to pass speed tests, you will need to be able to type in excess of 225 word per minute. Speed comes with practicing, so you will need to have a lot of time to practice outside of the classroom. Most stenographers use special software on their computers, they attach the steno writer to their laptop and what they type is translated into words on the screen. They then proofread it and create a transcript.

What It Takes to Learn Stenography

To become a court reporter you will need between two and four years of education and training at a stenography school. Stenography is usually offered as an associate's degree in court reporting and internships with a practicing court reporter is required. Course topics include legal terminology, machine shorthand, transcription and auditory language skills. Additional academic classes like business law will be required, this is similar to other technical degrees.

Proper training and certification will help you to become a successful stenographer, so research your prospective school choices wisely.