Landing that Court Reporter Job




How do you land a career as a court reporter?Becoming a court reporter is a process that takes time and personal diligence.  Not everyone is equipped to succeed in this profession, but, for those who are, it can be a significantly rewarding experience.

Step 1:  Get the Right Training

As with any professional position, receiving proper training is imperative.  Court reporter training programs are available throughout the country, both on school campuses and online.  Many schools offer programs that have an emphasis in either broadcast captioning, CART captioning, or judicial court reporting.  

A very beneficial program that is offered through many state court reporter associations allows court reporting students to work with a practicing court reporter as a mentor.  This opportunity not only provides the student with valuable real-life experience as a court reporter, but it also creates a great employment networking connection.  There are times a mentor is not only volunteering to help a student, but is also looking for a student to groom for employment purposes.  If it is available in your area, take advantage of the mentor program.  Also read "Scholarships for Court Reporting" to learn about ways to help cover training expenses for stenographer school.

Step 2:  Obtain Job Equipment and Supplies

Before beginning a career as a court reporter, you must have the proper tools to do the job.  While in school, equipment may be provided by the educational institution.  However, this equipment is for training and practicing purposes only and generally would not be appropriate for working in the field.  Before completing the training program, you should start to research what types of equipment you will need to purchase to begin your career as a court reporter.  Several companies offer lines of stenotype machines and specialty software for machine writers.  The same is true as to equipment available for voice writers.  

The equipment required to begin a court reporting practice is somewhat expensive.  Many of the companies offering the equipment also offer financing options.  Another alternative is to purchase used equipment on sites such as eBay and craigslist.  For machine shorthand, depending on the model of the steno writer and whether it is purchased new or used, prices can range from $1,300 to over $5,000.  The software designed to function with the steno writer generally ranges from $4,500 to over $6,000.  Some companies will offer special pricing if the machine and software are purchased together.  Voice writers spend from $200 to $300 for a new silencer speech mask and up to $900 for voice-to-text software.  Other necessary equipment includes one or more high-quality microphones, an audio recorder, and a laptop with appropriate speed, memory, and storage capabilities.  To produce hard copies of transcripts, various binding supplies and production equipment are also necessary.

Step 3:  Create and Submit a Resume

In addition to lining up proper equipment, having some prospective employment options is another important consideration before completing your training.  If you have had the opportunity to work with a mentor while in school, speaking to that person about future employment is a very good way to start the process.  Many times mentors either own their own businesses or work for firms that are willing to hire new graduates, especially ones who have participated in the mentoring program.  Go through local business listings in the phonebook or online and develop a list of court reporting firms in your area.  Call each one and explain that you are about to graduate or have graduated from court reporter training and that you are interested in submitting a resume to that firm.  

Because the job of a court reporter covers such a diverse range of subjects, the more life experience you have, the better court reporter you will be.  In addition to your court reporter training, items to be sure and include on your resume are your familiarity with office procedures, computer usage, English courses, medical and/or legal field experience or courses, and even volunteer work.

Step 4:  Complete a Successful Interview

The interview is very important, be prepared!Firm owners will want to meet with you before considering allowing you to cover a job for them.  Even if the firm does not have an opening for a full-time position, many times you can request to be put on the firm’s overflow list, and you may be called to cover a job on days they do not have enough full-time reporters.  Doing overflow work for several firms will keep you quite busy, plus it opens the door for more steady work when a position becomes available.

When meeting with a firm owner for an interview, dress in professional business attire, just as you would if you were covering a job for the firm.  A firm owner appreciates a court reporter who has a sharp, professional appearance.  

Step 5:  Start Your New Career!

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Written by , CCR on 10/13/2012 Suzanne has been a court reporter and worked in legal communities for over 18 years. 

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