Do you want to be a court reporter? Many people do. You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that New York is one of the best states in which to work as a court reporter. An NY court reporter may work more in a week than Midwestern court reporters do in a month, especially in Manhattan. Most importantly, a court reporter has a responsibility to be accurate and without bias when creating and transcribing all text documents.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) keeps up-to-date information on court reporters’ earning averages and career opportunities. An NY court reporter working in the legal system can earn the highest wages available for this field. The BLS also predicts this profession will grow 10 percent through 2022, but the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) says that number is a conservative estimate. Because of closed-captioning and many Baby Boomers retiring (70 percent of the country’s court reporters are currently over the age of 46), the demand for court reporters will exceed supply within five years.

With recent rulings about equal rights to information for the hearing impaired, court reporters are finding themselves faced with another challenge – rapid transcription from spoken word to captioning for both public and private broadcasts and Internet webcasts. It’s a meaningful opportunity for court reporters who want to provide a valuable service.

AOS

Earning an Associate Degree in Occupational Studies (AOS) is your first step. Your goal is to obtain an entry-level position as quickly as possible, and every student’s timeframe varies. If you want to continue working full or part-time, earning your degree may take a bit longer than a full-time student.

The AOS Degree is necessary for an entry-level position as an NY Court Reporter. When you have completed your classes, you should be able to:

  • Create a court deposition transcript.
  • Demonstrate your proficiency using a stenographic machine and computer software.
  • Describe courtroom procedures.
  • Document dictated material up to 225 words per minute (wpm).
  • Show good working knowledge of medical and legal terminology.
  • Transcribe spoken words into readable text.

Stenotype Hearing Reporter Certificate

If you want to work as a closed-captioner, New York is the place to be! Closed captioning professionals are needed now as the NCRA also anticipates a future shortage. To complete the requirements for a Stenotype Hearing Reporter Certificate, you need to complete classes in Stenography as well as  English and English for Court Reporting, Legal Terminology, Medical Terminology, Courtroom Procedures and Computer Concepts. You should be able to:

  • Convert your stenotype material into ASCII text.
  • Create a court deposition transcript.
  • Demonstrate your proficiency using a stenographic machine and computer software.
  • Describe courtroom procedures.
  • Document dictated material from 180-200 wpm.
  • Show good working knowledge of medical and legal terminology.
  • Translate spoken words into real time text with 96% accuracy.

Internship

Your NY court reporter school should offer a competitive internship program where you can work for companies that will give you additional on-the-job training.

Legal consultant Colleen Jilio-Ryan says, “Students who enter into and successfully complete an internship gain insight that cannot be found inside a classroom. By actually being in the work environment and being allowed to observe, and in some cases work, they receive a hands-on experience that makes it easier for the transition into an actual job opening. They do not lose work time because they are already fully trained and ready to begin work immediately after graduation.”

Exams

What is required to work and what is needed for a competitive edge in job-seeking may not be the same thing. Licensing is not required to work as an NY court reporter, but some companies may prefer that their employees pursue it.

In 2015, New York offered two civil service tests for court reporters, one for lower courts and the other for the New York Supreme Court. It is expected that this testing will continue annually, and court reporters in New York are selected from the civil service exam list. “It is imperative to get on the list for employment if you are interested in working in the New York court system,” says Stephen A. Zinone, RPR, NCRA’s President. The minimum qualifications to take this exam are:

  • A high school diploma or its educational equivalent,
  • 18 months of general verbatim reporting experience OR
  • Graduation from a formal program in court reporting and one year of general verbatim reporting experience.

To be able to claim certification in New York, it is mandatory to take the New York State Education Department exam to be a Certified Shorthand Reporter. Again, you must have graduated from a court reporter school or prove you have 5 years of working experience.

Six states have voluntary licensing requirements for court reporters, and New York is among them. Another certification that is well-respected and something employers look for is NCRA Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) certification. “Your RPR means more recognition and respect from your clients, employers and fellow reporters. Your RPR means more job opportunities and referrals from fellow reporters.”

Digital and voice reporters often seek American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT) certification. Their certifications are Certified Electronic Reporter (CER) and Certified Electronic Transcriber (CET), and launched an online certification program in 2015.

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