You’ve likely seen a court reporter portrayed in a TV show or movie. You might think to yourself, “There must be more to it than typing really fast and reading back snippets when called upon.” And you would be right. Court reporters are a class of highly skilled professionals whose work is crucial to the functioning of our legal system. They are the creators of the official record who have worked hard to master the ability of transcribing, through stenography (shorthand) or the use of speech recognition software at upwards of 200 words per minute. For nearly 20,000 Americans, court reporting is their everyday life. If you have questions about court reporters and how to become one, this is the post for you. Let’s dig into some frequently asked questions about court reporting.


What kind of education do you need to be a court reporter?


Most people who go into court reporting do so by enrolling in and completing training programs at a community college or a school that specializes in court reporting. Depending on the program, you can earn either a certificate or an associate’s degree. In any given program, you can expect to take classes in English grammar, criminal law, transcript production, courtroom procedures and other topics relevant to court reporting.


How long does it take to learn court reporting?


From the formal education standpoint, the length of a court reporting program depends both on the school and the type of credential you are pursuing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most court reporting programs take between two and five years to complete. However, it also depends on whether you are attending classes full or part time, how much a student practices the skill outside of school and how fast you can get your transcription rate to the required graduation rate. This is commonly around 225 words per minute (wpm). It is possible to finish a court reporting program in less than two years.

Depending on where you are working, you may be required to pass a certification or licensure exam. Accredited court reporting programs will likely prepare you to pass an exam if necessary. Once you are in the field, you will be continually learning new things as the subject matter of the cases and proceedings you transcribe vary. It’s also common to pick up shorthand terms from your fellow court reporters. In this sense, court reporting is an endeavor of career-long learning.  


How does court reporting work?


The concept of court reporting is simple. Court reporters transcribe what is said and done in courtrooms and in other legal settings where an official record is required, such as in depositions. Using either stenography (typing on a stenotype keyboard) or voice writing (speaking abbreviated words into a microphone connected to a computer program), court reporters record everything that happens in the courtroom. The transcripts they create become the official record after their shorthand, verbal or written, is translated to English.  

How Court Reporting Works


How much do court reporters earn?


Like other professions, a court reporter’s earnings are dependent on setting and experience. Court reporters who freelance may have the power to control their income based on how much they want to work. Statistically speaking, the median annual earnings for court reporters was $55,120 in May 2017, according to BLS data. Court reporters in state governments tend to earn higher wages than their counterparts in local governments and business support services.


How much does it cost to go to court reporting school?


The cost of court reporting school depends on the school you are attending and the program in which you are enrolling. Financial aid may be available through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Scholarships may also be available depending on the school. For the most accurate information, it’s a good idea to talk with an admissions representative from that school.

Stenography Method in Court Reporting


Are court reporters in demand?


According to a projection from the BLS, the employment of court reporters is anticipated to rise through 2026. The BLS attributes this uptick in part to the increased need for providing closed captioning services, which is a service stenography writers and voice writers alike can provide. As well as, a shortage of court reporters. This is due to a high number of reporters nearing retirement according to the NCRA study a few years ago.

Captions are needed for television programs, news, special events, classroom (CART providing) and other video content to accommodate people who are deaf and hard of hearing. As a larger percentage of the population reaches age 65 and older, there will also be a need for real-time translation services.

With some of your questions answered, you can enroll in a court reporting school with confidence.


Discover Your New Career at Brown College


Brown College of Court Reporting (BCCR) has more than 47 years of experience preparing aspiring court reporters like you for success in the field. Brown’s program is the only court reporting program in Georgia that is approved by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA).

Brown College offers day and night scheduling options, with on-campus and online classes available. These scheduling options make it easy to fit a court reporting program into your schedule, regardless of whether you enroll full or part time. Brown’s classes are typically eight to 12 students, so you know you’ll receive the personalized instruction you need to become a professional.

As a student you’ll establish a relationship from day one with the Career Services Department ensuring a high level of support and guidance as you pursue your career goal of becoming a court reporter. And, prior to graduation, a prized externship class involving courtroom experience contributes to the noteworthy placement results for graduates.  Don’t just take our word for it; 100 percent of our graduates from 2015 and 2016 are currently employed.

Your new career is only a few keystrokes away. Visit us online at today.