When you hear the term “court reporter” you might think of a news reporter standing outside the courthouse where there is a big murder trial. While this is one form of reporting, a reporter’s or stenographer ‘s career is one that is much closer to the action. Court reporters are those individuals who transcribe spoken and recorded speech on paper, organized into minutes, so every trial taking place within the courthouse is recorded. This is their duty to ensure that this written record is transcribed 100 percent verbatim, and during a jury there are no doubts as to what may have been said before. Do you want to learn more? Visit Kaplan Leaman & Wolfe Court Reporters of Fort Lauderdale.
Until computers and modern technologies were adopted, stenographers used typewriters and shorthand to keep up with the proceedings as the trial proceeded. Today stenographers, however, have the aid of digitally preserved transcripts so that the court can be preserved verbatim with a corresponding written record.
Because of the complexity of most trials in the U.S., stenographers are expected to have training in various areas, including legal and medical terminology, as well as commercial law. For an aspiring court reporter interested in becoming accredited, training may take from 24 to 48 months, depending on the type of recording and the attended classes. Certification for reporting to court comes from two separate agencies in the U.S.
The organizations are the Association of National Court Reporters and the National Verbatim Reporters Association both offer certification, but their terms vary. To be accredited by the NCRA by reporters their typing speed must be at or above 225 words per minute. Its pace must be about 250 words per minute for NVRA certification. Even after receiving certification from any of these institutions, court reporters are required to practice and maintain speed by attending ongoing training courses to maintain their certified status.
Off the courtroom work
While a court-reporter certification is designed to give them a job working closely with the courts and judges, there are areas outside the courtroom that require those with verbatim skills. Most court reporters work independently for themselves, offering their services to those who require an official legal transcript outside the courtroom. Real-time transcriptions for religious services, webcasts, and public events are standard contracts that can be done by a court reporter outside the courtroom. Many TV stations also employ courtroom reporters to transcribe their live programs in the form of closed captioning for hearing impaired people.
A new stenographer usually gets the starting pay around the $30,000 mark. As a reporter gains experience and a reputation grows, this pay can double, or even triple, depending on the number of cases transcribed per year and the work performed outside the courtroom. Trials are notorious for extending their deadline past and as court reporters are required throughout the entire process , high overtime pay at the end of the year may result in a very large salary. Pay usually increases the longer an person also has experience in the industry.