If a legal career entices you, but spending years in law school seems like a long road, there are other options to explore. You can become a court reporter, an ideal choice if you want to be a part of the action. The role is exciting as you get to work closely with lawyers and swear in witnesses. It also includes maintaining records of everything that happens in the court. You earn a good salary and get an opportunity to travel. These skilled professionals are in demand, so you will never need to stress about job security. What more could you ask for? If you are all set to embrace this career, here are the steps to follow.
Hone Your Skills
Even before you start with your education, you need to hone the skills needed for the job. A successful court reporter must possess attributes such as good communication skills, a strong presence of mind, and attention to detail. Further, you will need to ramp up your spelling, vocabulary, and punctuation. Timeliness, dependability, and patience set you apart. Some of these skills are inborn, and you will have to work to develop others. Doing your bit to nurture these skills can take you a step closer to success.
Earn a Degree
Like any other profession, education gives you the best start if you want to become a court reporter. Community colleges, universities, and traditional technical schools offer two-year degrees online and offline for people who plan to pursue court reporting as a career. The program covers skills such as using computers and stenotype machines for judicial reporting. You will also learn legal terminology, reporting procedures, voice writing technology, and technical dictation practices. Some programs have the option of court internships and freelance externships.
Pass a Licensing Exam
You will also need to pass a certification or licensing exam to start working as a registered court reporter. The exam and requirements may vary state-to-state, so you must check for the state where you plan to practice. Most states require candidates to clear a written exam along with a skill test. A license always gives you an advantage even if you work in a state that doesn’t require it because you get better job prospects.
Gain Work Experience
Consider gaining first-hand work experience as an assistant before you dive deeper into the role of a court reporter. It will give you insights into how things work in real settings. As a part of the training, you will help prepare and edit draft copies of transcripts while complying with the requisite standards and regulations. You will gain perspective on technical aspects like generating duplicate audio recordings, monitoring audio quality, and sharing approved CD copies of depositions, trials, and hearings. Once you are comfortable with the procedures and technologies, you are all set to work independently.
Explore the program options before you start building your career in this domain. While some courses take a generalized approach, others focus on key areas like judicial reporting, Closed/Broadcast captioning, and Communications Access Realtime Reporting (CART). You can pick one that matches your preference and interest.