Court stenographers, also called court reporters, play an integral part in our nation’s court systems as well as in other events where speech must be recorded word-for-word into written text. Court stenographers use a variety of keystrokes on a stenotype machine in order to record the speech that occurs during trials, depositions, meetings, and other events. Due to the skills required, stenographers must go through intensive training programs and continuing education.
In order to become a court stenographer, a person must first complete a court reporting or stenography program. These programs often last two years and they teach students about legal procedures, legal and medical terminology, and practical, hands-on training. One of the key benefits of this practical training is that it helps students improve their typing speeds, because court reporters are expected to type about 225 words-per-minute.
Licensure and Certifications
Once a court reporting program is completed, then the next step is to obtain state licensure. However, when it comes to obtaining this licensure, the process and standards vary from state to state. For example, some states require a practical examination to obtain a license while some may only require that you have a notary license. Additionally, many court stenographers obtain certifications from organizations such as the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). Having those higher levels of certifications will open up many job opportunities.
NCRA has several tiers of certification achievement, including Registered Professional Reporter (RPR), Registered Merit Reporter (RMR), Certified Realtime Reporter (CRDR) and the Registered Diplomate Reporters (RDR). According to NCRA, there are about 11,000 RPRs, 2,100 RMRs, and 450 RDRs.
When a court stenographer achieves a certification from NCRA, in order to maintain it, they must participate in continuing education programs. Not only do these continuing education programs help stenographers keep their certifications, but they also help stenographers stay ahead of the curve so they can become credible experts in court reporting.
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