Court Reporter Careers

It is fair to state that any court gathering is incomplete without a court reporter. A court reporter's job is to transcribe spoken or recorded speech into written form. Most court reporters use a stenotype (keyboard machine that records) or steno mask to produce an official transcript of court hearings, descriptions, and other proceedings. A court reporter is sometimes called a stenographer. A court reporter does not have to be a graduate of law, but they must have completed an internship in a court of law to get accustomed to legal terms. They must also have excellent writing skills.

The judicial system relies on court reporters to maintain its integrity by providing reliable trials, court hearings, and legislative meetings, which serve as judicial precedent. A court reporter must be competent, since they determine the dignity of the judicial system to a large extent.

What Does a Court Reporter Do

Court reporters create word-for-word transcriptions at trials, depositions, administrative hearings, and other legal proceedings. Some court reporters provide captioning for television and real-time translation for deaf or hard-of-hearing people at public events, in business meetings, and in classrooms.


Court reporters typically do the following:

  • Attend depositions, hearings, proceedings, and other events that require written transcripts
  • Capture spoken dialogue with specialized equipment, including stenography machines, video and audio recording devices, and covered microphones
  • Report speakers’ identification, gestures, and actions
  • Read or play back all or a portion of the proceedings upon request from the judge
  • Ask speakers to clarify inaudible or unclear statements or testimony
  • Review the notes they have taken regarding the names of speakers and any technical terminology they used 
  • Edit transcripts for typographical errors
  • Provide copies of transcripts and recordings to the courts, counsels, and parties involved
  • Transcribe television or movie dialogue onto screens to help deaf or hard-of-hearing viewers
  • Provide real-time translation in classes and other public forums in which deaf or hard-of-hearing students and other individuals are participating

Court reporters create word-for-word transcripts of speeches, conversations, legal proceedings, meetings, or other events.

Court reporters play a critical role in legal proceedings, which require an exact record of what was said. They are responsible for producing a complete, accurate, and secure legal transcript of courtroom proceedings, witnesses’ testimonies, and depositions.

Court reporters in the legal setting also help judges and attorneys by capturing, organizing, and producing the official record of the proceedings. The official record allows users to efficiently search for important information contained in the transcript. Court reporters also index and catalog exhibits used during court proceedings.

Some court reporters, however, do not work in the legal setting or in courtrooms. These reporters primarily serve people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing by transcribing speech to text as the speech occurs.

The following are examples of types of court reporters who do not work in the legal setting:

Broadcast captioners are court reporters who provide captions for television programs (called closed captions). These reporters transcribe dialogue onto television monitors to help deaf or hard-of-hearing viewers or others viewing television programs in public places. Some broadcast captioners may translate dialogue in real time during broadcasts; others may caption during the postproduction of a program.

Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) providers are court reporters who work primarily with deaf or hard-of-hearing people in a variety of settings. They assist clients during board meetings, doctor’s appointments, or any other events in which real-time translation is needed. For example, CART providers may caption the dialogue of high school and college classes and provide an immediate transcript to students who are hard-of-hearing or who are learning English as a second language.

Although some court reporters may accompany their clients to events, many broadcast captioners and CART providers work remotely. An Internet or phone connection allows them to hear and type without having to be in the room.

Court reporters who work with deaf or hard-of-hearing people turn speech into text. For information on workers who help deaf or hard-of-hearing people through sign language, cued speech, or other spoken or gestural means, see the profile on interpreters and translators.

Court reporters may use different methods for recording speech, such as stenotype machine recording, steno mask recording, and electronic recording.

Court reporters use stenotype machines to record dialogue as it is spoken. Stenotype machines work like keyboards, but create words through key combinations rather than single characters, allowing court reporters to keep up with fast-moving dialogue. Court reporters who use stenotype machines are known as stenographers.

Key combinations entered on a stenotype machine are recorded in a computer program. The program uses computer-assisted transcription to translate the key combinations into the words and phrases they represent, creating real-time, readable text. The court reporter then reviews the text for accuracy and corrects spelling and grammatical errors.

Court reporters also may use steno masks to transcribe speech. Court reporters who use steno masks speak directly into a covered microphone, recording dialogue and reporting gestures and actions. Because the microphone is covered, others cannot hear what the reporter is saying. The recording is sometimes converted by computerized voice-recognition software into a transcript that the court reporter reviews for accuracy, spelling, and grammar.

For both stenotype machine recording and steno mask recording, court reporters must create, maintain, and continuously update an online dictionary that the computer software uses to transcribe the key presses or voice recordings into text. For example, court reporters may put in the names of people involved in a court case or the specific words or specialized, technical jargon that are typically used in that type of legal proceeding.

Court reporters also may use digital recorders in their job. Digital recording creates an audio or video record rather than a written transcript. Court reporters who use digital recorders operate and monitor the recording equipment. They also take notes to identify the speakers and provide context for the recording. In some cases, court reporters use the audio recording to create a written transcript.

How To Become a Court Reporter

Many community colleges and technical institutes offer postsecondary certificate programs for court reporters. Many states require court reporters who work in legal settings to be licensed by a state or certified by a professional association.


Many court reporters receive formal training at community colleges or technical institutes, which have different programs that lead to either a certificate or an associate’s degree in court reporting. Either degree will qualify applicants for many entry-level positions. Certification programs prepare students to pass the licensing exams and typing-speed tests required by most states and employers.

Most court reporting programs include courses in English grammar and phonetics, legal procedures, and legal terminology. Students also practice preparing transcripts to improve the speed and accuracy of their work.

Some schools also offer training in the use of different transcription machines, such as stenotype machines or steno masks.

Graduating from a court reporting program can take between 2 and 5 years.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Many states require court reporters who work in legal settings to be licensed or certified by a professional association. Licensing requirements vary by state and by method of court reporting.

The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) offers certification for court reporters, broadcast captioners, and Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) providers. Currently, 22 states accept or use the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) certification in place of a state certification or licensing exam.

Digital and voice reporters may obtain certification through the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT), which offers the Certified Electronic Reporter (CER) and Certified Electronic Transcriber (CET) designations. 

Voice reporters may also obtain certification through the National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA). As with the RPR designation, some states with certification or licensing requirements will accept the NVRA designation in place of the state license.

Certification through the NCRA, AAERT, and NVRA all require the successful completion of a written test, as well as a skills test in which applicants must type, record, or transcribe a minimum number of words per minute with a high level of accuracy.

In addition, all associations require court reporters to obtain a certain amount of continuing education credits in order to renew their certification.

For more information on certification, exam, and continuing education requirements, visit the specific association’s website. State licensing and continuing education requirements can be found by visiting the state association’s or state judicial agency's website.


After completing their formal program, court reporters must undergo a few weeks of on-the-job training. This typically includes additional skills training as well as training on the more technical terminology that may be used during complex medical or legal proceedings.

Important Qualities

Concentration. Court reporters must be able to concentrate for long periods. They must remain focused on the dialogue they are recording, even in the presence of auditory distractions.

Detail oriented. Court reporters must be able to produce error-free work, because they create transcripts that serve as legal records.

Listening skills. Court reporters must give their full attention to speakers and capture every word that is said.

Writing skills. Court reporters need a good command of grammar, vocabulary, and punctuation.

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Average Salary for a Court Reporter

Court Reporters in America make an average salary of $35,757 per year or $17 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $47,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $27,000 per year.
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Best Paying Cities For Court Reporters

Average Salarydesc
Boston, MA
Salary Range40k - 85k$59k$58,698
New York, NY
Salary Range39k - 84k$58k$58,010
Merced, CA
Salary Range36k - 75k$53k$52,931
Washington, DC
Salary Range34k - 71k$50k$50,072
Las Vegas, NV
Salary Range29k - 58k$42k$41,530
Houston, TX
Salary Range28k - 54k$39k$39,438
Fargo, ND
Salary Range30k - 49k$39k$38,975
Greenville, MS
Salary Range28k - 50k$38k$37,900
Coeur dAlene, ID
Salary Range19k - 36k$26k$26,384
Indianapolis, IN
Salary Range17k - 31k$23k$23,178

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Court Reporter Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Court Reporter. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Court Reporter Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Court Reporter resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

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Court Reporter Demographics



72.3 %


23.7 %


4.0 %



85.1 %

Hispanic or Latino

8.0 %

Black or African American

4.0 %

Foreign Languages Spoken


69.5 %


12.2 %


2.4 %
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Court Reporter Education


14.5 %
6.8 %



43.7 %


35.2 %

High School Diploma

7.7 %

Top Colleges for Court Reporters

1. Bentley University

Waltham, MA • Private

In-State Tuition

2. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition

3. Maria College of Albany

Albany, NY • Private

In-State Tuition

4. George Washington University, The

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition

5. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

6. Daemen College

Amherst, NY • Private

In-State Tuition

7. SUNY College of Technology at Alfred

Alfred, NY • Private

In-State Tuition

8. Texas Wesleyan University

Fort Worth, TX • Private

In-State Tuition

9. Ball State University

Muncie, IN • Private

In-State Tuition

10. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
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Top Skills For a Court Reporter

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 29.0% of court reporters listed court proceedings on their resume, but soft skills such as detail oriented and listening skills are important as well.

  • Court Proceedings, 29.0%
  • Legal Documents, 12.2%
  • Technical Terminology, 4.9%
  • General Public, 4.4%
  • Legal Proceedings, 4.3%
  • Other Skills, 45.2%
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Best States For a Court Reporter

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a court reporter. The best states for people in this position are Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. Court reporters make the most in Rhode Island with an average salary of $60,300. Whereas in Connecticut and Massachusetts, they would average $58,899 and $58,731, respectively. While court reporters would only make an average of $57,580 in New York, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Rhode Island

Total Court Reporter Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New York

Total Court Reporter Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Massachusetts

Total Court Reporter Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Court Reporters

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Top Court Reporter Employers

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Updated August 18, 2021