Court reporting is a profession that focuses on creating word-for-word transcriptions at legal proceedings, including trials and depositions. Some court reporters also expand their profession to captioning for live television, educational classrooms, real-time captioning for deaf people, recording minutes for business meetings, and more. In addition to recording the speech (typed and sometimes, also electronically recorded), court reporters will also record the speaker’s gestures, actions, and identification. They will also play the records back at the request of the judge, or authority. In the case of court, they may also request witnesses clarify unclear or inaudible testimonies or statements.

Becoming a Court Reporter

The majority of court reporters hold a postsecondary nondegree award, which may be received by a community college or technical institute. These institutions may offer postsecondary certificate programs, in which a student may specifically prepare to become a court reporter.

Court reporters who work for the government or in legal proceedings may be required to attain a license from the state, an accredited organization, or a professional association.

The Court Reporting Career

Court reporters often work for state or local governments, specifically in court proceedings or legislatures. However, two types of court reporters do not work in legal settings.

  • Broadcast captioners transcribe for television (closed captions). Some broadcast captioners may work in real time, while others may work in postproduction for later broadcasts. They may work from home, through remote services, or at the broadcast station.

  • Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) providers work primarily with deaf or hard-of-hearing people in a variety of settings, potentially during board meetings, doctor appointments, educational settings, and other times when listening is important.

Multiple organizations encourage the court reporting profession, including the National Court Reporting Association, and state-specific organizations such as the Washington Court Reporting Association. These organizations also promote the core ethical values that are relevant to the court reporting profession. These may include: being alert to potential conflicts of interest, preserving the confidentiality of the information recorded, and neither giving nor receiving any gifts of value, incentives, or rewards from law firms, government personnel, attorneys, etc.

Employment Statistics

According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 21,000 court reporter jobs in the U.S. in 2014. The median pay in 2015 ranged around $50,000 per year or $23.80 per hour. Within the next decade, the profession is estimated to grow by 2%, lower than the average growth for other occupations, which is approximately 7%. Accordingly, the projected numeric change in court reporting jobs for the next decade is 300. However, Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) providers are estimated to have better job prospects than the rest of the court-reporting professionals.

Works Consulted

“Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Court Reporters.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Department of Labor, 17 Dec. 2015. Web. 18 Mar. 2017.

“Washington Court Reporters Code of Professional Ethics.” Washington Court Reporters Association. National Court Reporters Association, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2017.

By Marsha Naegeli