Court reporters transcribe verbatim everything that is said inside of a courtroom during trials, hearings, depositions, tribunals and meetings. They use shorthand, voice writing equipment or machine shorthand to produce official word-for-word transcripts of a criminal case, corporate takeover or medical disciplinary hearing.
Duties and responsibilities
- Type at the speed of human speech, which is typically 225 words per minute
- Maintain roughly $7,000 worth of equipment and ensure it is working properly
- Keep records of court proceedings and ensure names, case numbers or charges are accurate
- Provide closed captions of recorded shows or live broadcasts
- Produce transcripts for the court, corporation or attorneys – sometimes on short notice
- Manage digital voice recording equipment and software
- Jot down annotations and supplementary information for later transcription
- Travel outside the country if it involves Canadian law or a Canadian legal professional
- Request speakers to clarify inaudible statements
- Proofread to verify the accuracy of the transcriptions
- Read a portion of the transcripts when requested by any of the participating parties
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
Standard business hours
A court reporter, if employed by a firm, will complete a 40-hour workweek. Many court reporters are freelancers, so they can set their own hours and work whenever they wish. But it is common for these professionals to work overtime if parties agree to go beyond 5pm, requested to travel outside the country on business, or you are called on a rush job.
Also, attorneys will work through breaks and lunch, which requires the court reporter to transcribe without a trip to the bathroom or without a lunch – a court reporter should never stop transcribing unless someone requests to go off the record.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Associate’s degree in court reporting
To become a court reporter, you must complete the requirements of a vocational school or finish a two-year college court reporting programme. It is said that the faster you type and the more accurate you are, then the quicker you can graduate and enter the workforce. Experts also recommend graduates to gain certification from the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA).
Because there is very little room for advancement, court reporters concentrate on their typing speeds, accuracy and rush jobs. Ultimately, the harder you work and the more versatile you are – knowledge of communication access real-time translation (CART) or broadcast closed captioning is beneficial – then the higher your income will be.