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Court Reporter Job Description

What does a court reporter do? Court reporters are trained to create transcriptions of legal proceedings and other events. Although court reporters are mainly associated with transcribing in courtrooms, they often work as closed captioning transcribers and also transcribe at various events and in different public situations for those who are hearing impaired. In the legal field, court reporters are important as they transcribe everything said during a trial and other types of hearings and legal meetings. Outside of the legal field, court reporters who transcribe for those who are hard of hearing or deaf, provide an invaluable service for those who would not otherwise be able to listen to the words being spoken.
The work environment of a court reporter depends on their job. Many are employed in courthouses and work full time and during regular business hours. Other court reporters freelance and travel to and from various locations to take depositions and perform other transcription duties in  law offices. Court reporters who freelance often have more flexibility in scheduling as they can decide what jobs they would like to take. Court reporters who do not work in the legal field might go to events with clients to translate for them, or they might work from home performing closed captioning duties.
Court reporters need to have an excellent attention to detail since the work they do depends on their meticulous ability to transcribe dialogue verbatim. In addition, it is important to be a good listener in order to correctly transcribe what is being said, and it necessary that court reporters have stellar writing skills in the areas of grammar and punctuation. Those in the field should also have good concentration skills, since they will often need to transcribe for a lengthy amount of time which requires a good deal of concentration.

Court Reporter Duties

On a daily basis, a court reporter might perform the following duties:

  • Transcribe legal proceedings
  • Accompany hearing impaired clients to school or other places to translate for them
  • Edit transcripts

How To Become A Court Reporter

Becoming a court reporter involves attending an accredited court reporting program at a state or community college or technical school. Depending on the school, one can receive a certificate or an associate’s degree. Many states require that court reporters are state licensed which involves passing an exam.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Court Reporter?

It usually take 1-2 years to become a court reporter. That time is spent completing a court reporting certificate or degree program, and then becoming state licensed if necessary.

Education Requirements

Court reporting schools require that those entering the program possess a high school diploma or equivalency. Once enrolled in a court reporting program, students will spend their time taking classes in such subjects as grammar and legal terminology. Schools might also train students on various transcription machines that they will eventually use in the industry. Depending on the school and the program, students will either graduate with a certificate or an associate’s degree in the subject. After graduating and obtaining any licenses that might be necessary in his or her state, a court reporter can then seek employment in the field.


Court reporters can become certified through the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). To become certified, court reporters must pass an exam that includes a typing speed test in addition to several other components. Some states will allow a court reporter to hold a NCRA certification instead of a state license and still be allowed to work as a court reporter in that particular state. There are other types of certifications available for those employed as digital and voice reporters.


State licensing is not required in all states, but in many states, court reporters must have a license in order to work as a court reporter. Every state has different rules and regulations, so it is important to check the requirements of the state where one wishes to become employed. Court reporters who work in legal settings may also need to be licensed or certified through a professional association depending on the state.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for court reporters is average. Between the years of 2012 and 2022, positions in the field of court reporting will grow about 10 percent. The reason for the expansion in the field is unrelated to the legal field.
Many of the new jobs will be in closed captioning. There are new federal regulations which now require more closed captioning for online programming and for television programming. Another reason for the increase in jobs is due to the need for court reporters who are trained in Communication Access Real-Time Translation and can translate for clients during their every day activities such as doctor’s appointments and meetings.

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