Stenographer Training & Certification




In our modern vernacular, stenographers are more commonly referred to as “court reporters.”  Because of the important duty stenographers have in the legal community, they are also known as “guardians of the record.”  Judicial court reporters are responsible for creating detailed and accurate records of all dialogue and activities that take place during a legal proceeding, but the skill of stenography has been handed down for centuries as the method for recording history as it is being made.  

What Does It Take To Become a Court Reporter?

Two necessary ingredients for becoming a good court reporter are dedication and proper training.  Stenographer schools across the country offer training programs that can be completed on a campus, online, or a combination of both.  Due to the unique nature of the court reporting profession, training involves a variety of disciplines.  Not all programs are exactly the same, but in addition to stenotype machine or stenomask training courses, generally you could expect to study English grammar and punctuation, governmental procedures, legal research, judicial procedures, legal terminology, and business communications.  Developing listening skills, learning to operate computer-aided transcription software, and improving typing speed are other techniques taught in stenographer training programs.
Acquiring an understanding of these various disciplines, as well as mastering the skills required for accurate transcription, is necessary to effectively perform the duties required of a court reporter.  Though certification is not mandatory in all states, the skills necessary to obtain certification are certainly essential for the job of a stenographer.  If you provide the dedication and have a willingness to learn, the first step towards receiving the training you need is only a mouse click away.


Stenographer Degrees And Certification

Types and levels of stenographer degrees are varied.  Depending on the school and the programs offered, a court reporter may complete training to earn an associate of applied science degree in realtime reporting, an associate’s degree in judicial reporting, an associate’s degree in broadcast captioning, or a certificate in court reporting.  The titles of the programs and the degrees offered may differ by location, but the skills necessary to complete the programs are basically the same.  

In general, most stenography programs are designed to be completed in two years.  However, it is possible to complete training in less time if the student is incredibly focused and ambitious.  On the other hand, it is also possible to spread court reporter training out over a longer period of time if that is more convenient for the student.  The duration of programs may also increase if they involve more specialized training, such as broadcast captioning or community access realtime translation (CART).

After completing a training program, students are highly encouraged to obtain certification, such as one of those offered through the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) or the National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA).  Some states accept these national certifications in place of mandatory state certifications.  For clarification, do not confuse certificates awarded from educational institutions with the certifications granted by the NCRA, the NVRA, or a state licensure board.  These certifications are granted to stenographers who successfully pass the required examinations administered by one of those entities.

Whether you choose to receive your stenographer training through a campus or an online program, many options are available for you.  Take some time to explore the variety of educational choices you have.

Court Stenographer Certifications: National Court Reporters Association

The most recognized type of certification for court reporters who perform stenotype machine stenography is the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR).  This certification is awarded by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) to those stenographers who pass a four-part examination and obtain the required continuing education units to maintain the certification.  Although it is voluntary in some states, the RPR certification is recognized as a mark of distinction in the field of court reporting.

A court reporter may obtain additional certifications which demonstrate higher levels of experience and competency, such as the Registered Merit Reporter (RMR) and the Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR).  The NCRA also awards certifications for the Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR), the Certified Broadcast Captioner (CBC), the Certified CART Provider (CCP), and the Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS).

NCRA certifications are generally accepted in place of most state certification tests.  There are a few states, however, such as California and Texas, that require an applicant to pass the state-administered exam before certification is granted.  Having passed the RPR can be helpful to these applicants, though, because that accomplishment is accepted as part of the eligibility requirements to sit for these state tests.  For states requiring certification or licensure for court reporters, whether satisfied by a national, state, or school examination, passing of specific speed tests is widely accepted as a general requirement to obtain initial certification.

Court Stenographer Certifications: National Verbatim Reporters Association

The National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA) offers certification primarily to voice reporters. The Certified Verbatim Reporter (CVR) certification is granted after attendance at a CVR workshop and successfully passing a four-part examination consisting of reporting knowledge and dictation and transcription speed.  Beyond the CVR, the NVRA offers the certifications of Certificate of Merit (CM), Realtime Verbatim Reporter (RVR), Registered Broadcast Captioner (RBC), and Registered CART Provider (RCP).

In some states, certifications awarded by the NVRA are given equal weight to those awarded by the NCRA.  Voice writers will continue to gain acceptance as more efficient voice-recognition technology develops.  

Court Stenographer Certifications: American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers

The American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT) offers certification for people skilled in the technique of monitoring the recording of proceedings.  As a recording is made, electronic reporters also make required notations regarding the proceeding, so that an accurate transcript can be produced.  To be certified as an electronic reporter and transcriber, an applicant is required to pass written and practical examinations.  AAERT certifications include the Certified Electronic Reporter (CER), the Certified Electronic Transcriber (CET), and the Certified Electronic Reporter and Transcriber (CERT), which is automatically granted upon successful completion of both the CER and CET certifications.  Certification is also offered for digital court reporters and transcribers and is designated by the CER**D, CET**D, and CERT*D certifications.

Moving Forward as a Court Reporter

Many training options are available for becoming a court reporter.  Programs can vary from two- to four-year on-campus college programs to online programs that train you in the necessary skills at home on your own time.  Though speed skills are important, it is also necessary to have a good basic knowledge of grammar and punctuation, as well as a strong interest in working with written words.  Similar to most higher-education programs, you are typically required to have a high school diploma or to have earned a GED.  In addition to obtaining certification to practice as a court reporter, many states also require that a court reporter obtain a notary public commission to be allowed to place witnesses under oath.  

Stenography is a skill that is multifaceted.  Whether working in the legal system as a court reporter or with a television network as a broadcast captioner, options for unique employment opportunities are readily available for stenographers.  Obtaining additional certifications is a great way to increase your job choices, as well as command a higher salary for your special skills.

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