What is court reporting? Simply put, court reporting is transcribing a written record of what is said and done in a courtroom and other legal settings. Court reporters transcribe the official record of the proceedings. They do this in a couple ways: some type using machine shorthand on stenotype keyboards, while others prefer to use a method known as voice writing to transcribe what happens. Both of these methods are typically taught at court reporting schools.
Before they are ready for the courtroom, court reporters usually complete a court reporting program at a court reporting school. What can you expect to learn in court reporting school? That depends on which method you want to study, but in any court reporting program you will learn legal terminology, as you will need to know it for the courtroom. So what else will you learn in court reporting school? Here are a few court reporting skills:
Speed Writing/Shorthand Writing
Writing down everything that happens in a courtroom requires some serious typing chops. Even though you’re using machine shorthand, should you decide to go the stenography route, you will need to be capable of typing upwards of 225 words per minute. You will master the art of shorthand on a stenotype keyboard, which has fewer keys than a traditional computer keyboard. Shorthand or not, 225 words per minute is a blazing speed at which to type. As a court reporter, you can also expect to expand the transcript after the conclusion of the courtroom action.
That’s right. When you type in shorthand, each word is represented by an abbreviation and needs to be typed out to form the official record. Your mastery of speed writing is sure to shine through even when you type on a regular computer keyboard. Most of the work in court reporting school is practicing to get your speed up to that benchmark of 225 wpm. Once you finish one level, it’s on to the next level in pursuit of increasingly higher speeds.
Like stenographers, voice writers are also responsible for being able to reach 225 words per minute. However, they do so in a different way. Voice writers speak into a muted mouthpiece, much as a translator would, even if they are speaking the same language. Their audio is then translated onto a computer screen using voice-to-text software. This method obviously requires talking fast in certain situations, and it can be tricky at times if more than one person is speaking at the same time or speaking quickly.
Voice writing requires that you speak clearly, properly announciating each word you say in order for the machine to accurately translate the words to text. Also, like court reporters who study the stenography method, much of the work that voice writing students do is practice. They continually progress to faster and faster levels of voice writing to reach the end goal of 225 words each minute.
Regardless of whether you choose to study voice writing or the more traditional stenography route, you will also be able to do closed captioning work. There is a lot of closed captioning to be done. Every television program and movie needs to be transcribed for captioning. Even YouTube videos need to be captioned. It’s the same thing you would be doing in a courtroom setting, only you are watching a television program or a movie. Captions are crucial for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. As long as there is audiovisual media, there will be a need for people who are skilled at transcribing it.
Are you interested in a career as a court reporter? If reading about these skills sparked your interest in the field, you’ll be happy to know that a quality education in the field is possible regardless of your geographical location.
Discover Your New Career at Brown
For more than 46 years, Brown College of Court Reporting (BCCR) has been preparing its students for success in the court reporting field. We are proud to offer the only National Court Reporters Association-certified program in the state of Georgia.
With day, night and online options available, it’s easy to fit our program into your schedule regardless of whether you enroll full- or part-time. Each class has typically 8 to 12 students, so you know you’ll receive the personalized instruction needed to become a professional.
We also have career services available that can help our students land employment following graduation. Don’t 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 www.bccr.edu today.