Court reporters are in demand

A study conducted by Drucker Worldwide in September 2014 projects a significant shortfall of qualified applicants in the fast-paced field of court reporting. According to the figures compiled and the anticipated need for these legal professionals, at least 5,500 more court reporters will be required to meet ongoing demand. Court reporters play a critical role in a wide range of industries and environments and can often attract high salaries, a strong selling point given the current employment prospects available for new graduates.

Opportunities for court reporters

Along with the expected courtroom positions, court reporters may also find employment in a variety of other fields, including the following:

  • Creating closed captions for television broadcasts
  • Taking depositions for legal firms or court reporting companies
  • Providing assistance to disabled individuals through Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) positions

Multilingual individuals are in especially high demand in the court reporting industry and can provide translations for depositions and in court. This can prove exceptionally valuable for attorneys and legal firms with significant interests in foreign countries or who routinely work with witnesses and other individuals who speak little or no English.

Personal attributes of court reporters

Not everyone is suited to a career in court reporting. To succeed in this field, aspiring applicants must possess a unique set of skills and attributes that include the following:

  • Attention to detail and precision in recording spoken dialogue
  • Ability to focus for prolonged periods of time
  • Superior listening and comprehension skills
  • An extensive vocabulary and excellent spelling skills
  • General knowledge of legal terms and procedures
  • Patience and good interpersonal skills

Prospective court reporters who meet these basic requirements can often achieve a significant degree of success with the proper training and certification.

Educational and certification requirements

Court reporters must typically complete either a two-year degree or a certification program designed to provide the skills and background needed to perform duties in the legal setting. Broadcast captioners may also be required to take specific classes to familiarize themselves with the equipment used in the television industry. Once formal education has concluded, most states require successful completion of an examination that results in licensing or certification. The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) offers Registered Professional Reporter certification programs that are currently accepted by 22 of the 50 states in lieu of a state license or certification. CART service providers and court reporters must complete a three-part test of their skills as well as a written test to qualify for certification by the NCRA.

With approximately 32,000 court reporters already at work in the U.S. and the number of available positions on the rise, this legal profession offers much to attract younger applicants to the field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that average salaries for court reporters will increase by around 14 percent through 2020, a sharp contrast to falling salary rates in many other professions. By taking on the challenges of a career in the court reporting field, new graduates can potentially achieve significant financial success.