November 7, 2008
Pay: The 130 court reporters working full time in the state earned a median wage of $32.69 an hour, or $68,000, in May 2007, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The middle half earned between $56,370 and $75,330.
The job: Court reporters create verbatim transcripts of speeches, conversations, legal proceedings, meetings and other events. They play a critical role not only in judicial proceedings but also at every meeting where the spoken word must be preserved as a written transcript. Increasingly, court reporters also provide closed-captioning and real-time translating services to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
The most common method of court reporting uses a stenotype machine, which allows the reporter to press multiple keys at once to record combinations of letters representing sounds, words, or phrases. These symbols are electronically recorded then translated and displayed as text in a process called computer-aided transcription (CAT).
In real-time court reporting, the stenotype machine is linked to computers for real-time captioning, often of television programs. As the reporter keys in the symbols, the spoken words instantly appear as text on the screen.
Other methods of court reporting are the voice-writing method, in which the court reporter speaks directly into a voice silencer — a handheld mask containing a microphone. The reporter repeats the testimony into the recorder.
A third method of court reporting is electronic reporting. This uses audio equipment to record court proceedings as the court reporter takes notes to identify speakers. Electronic reporters often are responsible for producing a written transcript.
Need to know: The majority of court reporters work in offices of attorneys, courtrooms, legislatures and conventions. About half work for governments, and most of the rest for court-reporting agencies. An increasing number, about 8 percent, work as independent contractors.
Demand: Employment is projected to grow 25 percent, much faster than the average for all occupations, between 2006 and 2016.
Training: The training required varies with the type of reporting chosen. Training is offered by about 130 postsecondary vocational and technical schools and colleges. The National Court Reporters Association has certified about 70 programs.
Certification: The state requires court reporters to be certified, by taking a state test or by submitting another state's certification or a certificate from the National Court Reporters Association or the National Stenomask Verbatim Reporters Association.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: www.stats.bls.gov/oco
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