Court reporting is an interesting, challenging profession which offers a wide-open job market, flexible work schedule, and excellent income potential ($64,672 average income). Sophisticated technology has created exciting work in broadcast captioning and stenointerpreting. Broadcast captioners can earn $70,000+ and work out of their homes.
As the silent, “Keeper of the Record,” the life of the court reporter centers around words. The reporter takes testimony from people in all walks of life – engineers, doctors, attorneys, scientists, tradesmen – and every day new terminology is encountered. It is this aspect of reporting that makes it challenging, interesting, and exciting. After a few years of working, the reporter becomes well versed in many different areas of life.
An Associate of Applied Science Degree in the Court Reporting/Verbatim Technology program is designed to present a conflict-free theory and to develop the necessary machine shorthand skills leading to an eventual 225 words per minute writing speed. This will prepare the student to take the Illinois Certified Shorthand Reporter Examination, which is the professional certifying exam for the State of Illinois.
To prepare for this challenge, students are encouraged to improve their literacy. They should read newspapers, books, and magazines. They should even read unusual items such as sewer covers and construction seals on sidewalks because the names of the companies that manufacture those items will come up someday.
A major component of the program is the development of English grammar, punctuation, and vocabulary skills. Legal Terminology, Medical Terminology, and Court Practicum are among the other courses that will prepare the student to function as a professional court reporter.
South Suburban College’s National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) – approved program is the only court reporting program in the south suburban region!
Admission to the Program
Students must be admitted into the Court Reporting Program before registering for any other COR classes. A combination of two-voice, jury, theory and/or literary must be taken. General Education classes must be taken along with machine classes or credit given via transcript. A successful court reporter is a well-rounded individual, thus completion of a variety of academic classes is essential. Summer classes are mandatory.Placement into college-level English on the Placement test is a requirement for COR 100. Students must have a typing speed of 45 wpm. Students must successfully pass COR 100 and OAT 170 before applying for Admission into the Court Reporting Program. To apply, submit a copy of college transcripts, a one-page personal statement of goals and commitment, and a letter of reference from a Certified Shorthand Reporter with business card attached to the Program Coordinator.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Court Reporting/Verbatim Technology Program
The world of the professional court reporter is rapidly changing because of the sophisticated equipment that today’s reporter uses. These are some of the areas in which reporters may work and average salaries:
- Judicial Reporting – $64,672*
- Broadcast Captioning – from $35,000 to $75,000+*
- Stenointerpreting or CART reporters – $35,000 to $65,000*
- Webcasting – $100 – $200 per hour*
* Figures on income were supplied by the National Court Reporters Association in February 2012.
Reporting is a profession which offers independence, flexibility, mobility, excellent income, and challenging, exciting work environments. According to research conducted by Ducker Worldwide, more than 5,500 new court reporting jobs are anticipated across the U.S. by 2018. A recent ruling by the FCC requiring that all television programs be captioned by 2006 is creating a huge demand for broadcast captioners. The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act has created a tremendous need for stenointerpreters on our campuses. The job market for traditional reporters, those who write trials, depositions, village board meetings, etc., remains wide open.
For more information about the profession of court reporting, visit the National Court Reporters Association’s websites at www.ncraonline.com and www.bestfuture.com.
Students may rent standard steno machines from the South Holland bookstore for two semesters, after which they are expected to purchase their own machine. Rental is $75 per semester, which is applied to the purchase price of the machine if the student chooses to buy the rental model. A $100 deposit is required, which is refunded upon return of the machine. By the second semester students must have purchased an electronic machine that will connect to the computer.
As was previously mentioned, the sophisticated computerized steno machine that reporters use today allows them to perform realtime translation; that is, instant translation of their steno notes. With this technology, they can write court proceedings for a hearing-impaired witness, a classroom lecture for a hearing-impaired student, the broadcast captioning for television shows, and corporate stockholders’ meetings for webcasting purposes. Those reporters who perform realtime writing are highly skilled individuals who must write at speeds upwards of 200 wpm at 98 percent accuracy for hours at a time. Consider the court reporters who caption the Olympic telecasts. Before the telecasts they have to program their computer translation dictionaries with the names of every country, athlete, and coach participating in the games, along with any other words that may come up during the shows. This is a task that takes months to complete. Then during the telecast, the reporter must write all of these difficult words instantly. Obviously this can be a very stressful assignment, but one that is also extremely interesting, exciting, and financially rewarding. And the majority of broadcast captioners are working out of their homes – tremendous flexibility.
Given the state of our high-tech society and the great strides we have made in developing electronic and computer technology, one might think that court reporters could be easily replaced by an electronic recording system. However, electronic recording has been attempted in many areas of the country for as long as reporters have existed, and the results have always been the same: No system has been developed that is as effective and efficient as the court reporter who uses our sophisticated computerized steno machine. First of all, attorneys want a written record to review; and producing a written record from a tape-recorded or videotaped version of a proceeding presents many problems. Identifying multiple speakers in a large courtroom is difficult. Extraneous noises such as coughing or shuffling of papers cause speech to become inaudible. When speakers overlap, those words are inaudible and lost forever. When people speak unreasonably fast or mumble or speak with heavy accents, those words are lost forever. In each of these situations, however, the court reporter takes control and cautions people to slow down, to speak one at a time, to repeat testimony, etc. If the recording equipment malfunctions or is not turned on, entire sections of testimony are lost. In addition, only the court reporter using computer-aided transcription can effectively offer instant translation for hearing-impaired individuals in courtrooms, depositions, classrooms, and elsewhere. The need for court reporters to provide realtime translation has increased tremendously with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
One of the very attractive aspects of freelance court reporting is the flexibility of schedule which it offers. Many reporters work on a part-time basis and produce their transcripts in the comfort of their homes, which is particularly attractive for the working mother. There is an extreme shortage of court reporters all around the United States and abroad, which gives the reporter excellent mobility.
The education and training are stressful, yet rewarding. Prospective students should be intelligent, disciplined, motivated, and they should possess above-average language skills, along with computer literacy. If you are interested in becoming a vital part of the judicial system or performing any of the many applications of realtime reporting, then court reporting may be the profession for you.