How to Become a Stenographer or Court Reporter
Your route to becoming a key player in the world of law
For a short form of writing, stenography has a long and interesting history. Few roles can boast a professional legacy of 5,000 years! From Ancient Rome to America’s early history, the art of recording events in a fast and accurate style has drawn the support of Queens and Congress.
The role of the stenographer/court reporter (SCR) is not only a rewarding career but one which plays a vital role at the highest levels of our society. There are a few other names the profession may operate under, but the level of responsibility is always high. The rewards can be, too.
What’s more, now may be the best time to consider this job because the country is in dire need of these skills. Demand is high due to factors such as significant retirement of these professionals and a growing number of situations requiring transcription talent.
Here is a more in-depth look at the duties involved and if it is the right path for you.
The responsibilities of stenographers and court reporters
Stenographers and court reporters are responsible for keeping a written record of events during legal proceedings such as trials, pretrial hearings, depositions (the act of giving sworn evidence), mediations and more. It is essential that words and physical gestures be recorded precisely.
This provides a record of events that can be referred to reliably at a later date by judges, attorneys, jury members, the press or the public. The speed and precision of the job is aided by the stenotype machine. Despite having fewer keys than a standard keyboard (22 compared to 101-104), stenotypes are specialized tools which allow a great level of recorded accuracy.
Words, numbers, phrases and even sounds are coded in shorthand for full transcription later. Increasingly, modern stenographers and court reporters are leaving behind the paper records created by stenotypes in favor of computer-aided records. The benefit here is that digital transcripts are immediately generated from the shorthand.
Stenography also helps people in need as an invaluable aid to those who are deaf or hard of hearing. In any event, where information is being provided via the spoken word, the stenographer’s quick transcription skills allow everyone to keep up with events.
Is being a stenographers or court reporter the right path for me?
Here in Florida, we are in the U.S top five for stenographer and court reporter employment. Many enjoy this occupation, so it could very well work for you.
There are several core personality skills needed to be successful in this field. A person must be an excellent listener and able to focus their attention to a superior degree. Outstanding ability in this field is not only a core requirement for every document produced; the outcome of an entire case may rely on accurate transcription.
The ability to retain a cool head under pressure is a benefit anywhere in life; especially when court reporting. Emotions can run high in court, but the stenographer or court reporter must always be able to remain calm and transcribe events as they happen.
In the end, when tempers have cooled and court is adjourned, it is the transcript that will endure as a vital, impartial record. Integrity and discretion are also bedrock character traits. Stenographers and court reporters can be privy to very private and sensitive information and must be relied upon to maintain the confidentiality inherent in their work.
Qualifications and pay rate
A keen interest in reading and writing are a great advantage. Having a high school diploma with experience in business or typing can be good preparation; stenographers can reach typing speeds up to 225 words per minute and even 300.
Don’t let this figure discourage you. It’s a gradual improvement to get there and is achievable when professionals develop their manual skills and stay clear and focused on their environment.
From there it is important to develop talent in shorthand along with familiarity and affinity with stenotype devices and technology. Stenographers and court reporters must have a solid grasp of legal terminology as well as that of other fields, such as business and healthcare, as their work may require.
An Associate or Legal Transcriptionist Degree can be achieved as education progresses. The NVRA (National Verbatim Reporters Association) offers six certificates of merit to help stenographers and court reporters gain respected credentials. The USCRA (United States Court Reporters Association) also offers qualifications.
Pursuing the career in Florida
If you live in Florida and are interested in pursuing a career in stenography, then you can refer to this page. The NCRA acknowledges the commitment of these institutions toward excellence in real-time reporting education.
If you’re wondering how much the role pays, recent figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics placed the median salary at over $50k per year. Interestingly, the Bureau predicts particular job growth in helping deaf or hard of hearing people through real-time captioning and CART (Communications Access Realtime Translation) leading up to 2026.
The future of court reporting
There’s no doubt that computer-aided transcription can be made this job even swifter. In some circles, there are concerns that autonomous digital stenographers may replace humans in this role. They cost less to employ and are every bit as quick.
There are two principal concerns that seem certain to secure a lasting place for human stenographers and court reporters. Judges and attorneys alike are aware of the technological risks of digital transcription, namely that files may be prone to corruption, alteration or deletion. The loss of testimony or other vital evidence could spell disaster for a case.
We must also consider the human ability to ask for clarity in the event of an unclear word or phrase. A computerized version lacks that ability and may simply approximate or omit the sound in question. A human providing a written record alongside the digital options is the surest way to guarantee integrity and security.
There has never been a better time for interested individuals to enter this field. Stenographers and court reporters have an opportunity to contribute to the integrity of the nation’s legal system while also being a bridge for people with disabilities. America is waking up to how important stenographers and court reporters are, and prospective applicants can be sure they are entering a sector where they will be valued.
At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, we’ve been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations and more since 1995. If you’d like help or more information, you can call us at 954 467 6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist you.