When a written account of spoken words made during official proceedings is needed, a court reporter takes down all of the statements. Court reporters create transcriptions at trials and other legal proceedings. Typical job duties include:
- Typing a deposition for an attorney
- Recording court proceedings during a trial
- Notarizing a document
- Closed captioning a TV program for the deaf
About 33 percent of court reporters work for the government, mainly in courts and legislatures. About 20 percent are self-employed. Others work for court reporting services, law firms, colleges and universities, and temporary help agencies. This job is all about speed; candidates need to be able to write as fast as people talk.
The recommended education and training includes a high school education and knowledge of shorthand accompanied by exceptional typing skills. Many technical schools and community colleges offer certificate programs for court reporters.
Completion of a two- to four-year training program in court reporting, which provides training with stenotype and computer-aided transcription, is recommended. Some states require certification, and it is helpful to obtain the Registered Professional Reporter designation (RPR). Most states require court reporters to be licensed and certified.
Earnings usually range between $40k and $74k per year. This amount varies for freelancers. (Salary data is based on information from PayScale.com and varies based on experience.)