Verbatim Reporters, What We Do

The profession of court reporting is thousands of years old. Its roots can be traced back to 63 B.C. when Marcus Tullius Tiro employed shorthand reporters as Cicero’s secretary.

Court reporters, also known as guardians of the record because of their impartiality and role within the judicial process, capture the words spoken by everyone during a court or deposition proceeding. Court reporters then prepare verbatim transcripts of proceedings. The official record, or transcript, helps safeguard the legal process. When litigants exercise their right to appeal, they use the transcript to provide an accurate record of what transpired during their case. During the discovery phase, attorneys also use deposition transcripts to prepare for trial.   By combining their skills with the latest technology, some court reporters (and all captioners) can provide realtime access to what is being said during a trial or deposition for the benefit of all involved parties.  A court reporter providing realtime allows attorneys and judges to have immediate access to the transcript, while also providing a way for deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans to participate in the judicial process.

Career Paths

More than 70 percent of the nation’s 50,000-plus court reporters work outside of the courtroom. Because court reporting involves a highly specialized skill set, reporters have a variety of career options:

Official Reporter
Official court reporters work for the judicial system to convert the spoken word into text during courtroom proceedings. The reporter also prepares official verbatim transcripts to be used by attorneys, judges, and litigants. Official court reporters are front and center at controversial or famous cases – criminal trials, millionaire divorces, government corruption trials, and lawsuits – ensuring that an accurate, complete, and secure record of the proceedings is produced. Official court reporters may also provide realtime during a courtroom setting to allow participants to read on a display screen or computer monitor what is being said instantaneously.

Freelance Reporter
Freelance reporters are hired by attorneys, corporations, unions, associations, and other individuals and groups who need accurate and complete records of pretrial depositions, arbitrations, board of director meetings, stockholder meetings, and convention business sessions.

Broadcast Captioner
Broadcast captioners, also called steno captioners, use their stenography skills to provide closed captioning of live television programs for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers through realtime technology that instantly produces readable English text. Captioners work for local stations and for national channels and networks captioning news, emergency broadcasts, sporting events, and other programming.

CART Captioner
A version of the captioning process called Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), also known as live-event captioning, allows CART reporters to provide personalized services to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. CART reporters accompany clients who are deaf and hard-of-hearing, for example, to college classes, to provide an instant conversion of speech into text using the stenotype machine linked to a laptop computer.

Webcasters are reporters who use their training to capture financial earnings reports, sales meetings, press conferences, product introductions, and technical training seminars and instantly transmit the captions to all parties involved via computers and the Internet. As participants speak into telephones or microphones, the words appear on everyone’s computers, accompanied by any relevant documents or graphics.

Well-Paid, Highly-Trained Professionals

Court reporters earn an average of $50,000 a year. Income varies based on location, certifications earned, the kind of reporting job, and experience of the individual reporter.

The knowledge and skills to become a court reporter or captioner are taught at reporter training programs throughout the United States, to include proprietary schools, community colleges, and four-year universities.  Many of these programs offer distance learning options as well.

Upon graduation, court reporters can further their marketability and earn recognition for achieving high levels of expertise in particular reporter markets by pursing certification.

The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) offers the following professional certifications:

  • Registered Skilled Reporter (RSR)
  • Registered Professional Reporter (RPR)
  • Registered Merit Reporter (RMR)
  • Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR)
  • Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR)
  • Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC)
  • Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS)
  • Certified Reporting Instructor (CRI)

An Evolving Career Choice

According to an industry outlook study, approximately 5,000 to 5,500 court reporters will retire over the
next several years, creating a steady demand for new professionals to enter the field.
Across the nation, NCRA members are actively participating in state school counselor conventions to
showcase the professions and provide hands-on demonstrations of how steno machines work, as well
as the benefits of realtime.
In addition, FCC regulations require that all television programing in the 25 top markets of the United
States provide closed captioning for their viewers. These regulatory changes have also led to a
growing number of employment opportunities within the profession.
There have also been an increasing number of individuals who have turned to CART providers to assist
them with their educational learning in the classroom setting.
Forbes has named court reporting as one of the best career options that does not require a traditional
four-year degree, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the court reporting field is
expected to grow by 14 percent over the next few years.

A to Z Intro to Machine Shorthand

Are you interested in seeing if machine shorthand is right for you? If so, we invite you to participate in an introduction to machine shorthand program. This free program is offered by the National Court Reporters Association and volunteers throughout the United States. To learn more, click the image below.