The work description can be likened to an extremely vamped-up version of note-taking, includes the ability to capture 180-225 spoken words per minute on paper with 95% accuracy. The people doing this work are known as stenotype operators, shorthand reporters, and law reporters, but are most commonly known as court reporters. They transcribe speech, whether spoken live or via audio/video recording, into written form, using either shorthand, machine shorthand, or voice writing equipment.
Professional court reporting services cater to a variety of organizations, including private law firms, courts, government agencies, trade associations, meeting planners and nonprofits.
Although court reporting can be likened to ‘advanced note-taking’, it is not a simple task and requires training and certification/licensure. 33.3 months of study in the technique and trade of voice writing, along with practicum are a prerequisite gaining licensure and being admitted into one of the national court reporting agencies in the United States. The American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT), The National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA), and the National Court Reporters (NCRA) are currently the three national court reporting agencies.
Even after being admitted into one of the national court reporting agencies, one must continue to take periodical classes and examinations to maintain their court reporting licensure.
Despite being closely associated with courtroom settings, not all court reporters actually work in courtroom settings — of the 50,000+ reporters working in the nation, more than 70 percent work outside of the court. They provide deposition services, arbitration hearing services, and other services involving legal matters outside of the court. They are also hired by TV stations to provide closed-captioning for live programs.
The salary of the middle 50 percent of court reporters ranges from $30,680 to $60,760, although large work backlogs and resultant high overtime pay can make the salaries of court reporters much higher.