How Long Does Court Reporting School Take?

One of the appealing careers for those who would like to work in a legal setting but don’t want to become lawyers is that of a court reporter. They will act as real-time recorders of what has transpired during trials and other legal proceedings. They may even find work outside the court system by providing captions for television programs or assisting the hard-of-hearing as they go about their day-to-day life. The profession gives decent pay and is projected to provide good job opportunities in the next few years.

Before anyone can become a court reporter, they will have to go to court reporting school. Community colleges and technical institutes offer certificate or associate’s degree programs in court reporting. In these programs, students learn about court procedures, legal terminology and English grammar. An important component of their training is learning how to prepare transcripts since this is what they are going to come up with every day. Certificate programs in court reporting take a year to finish while associate’s degrees can be completed in a couple of years. The National Court Reporters Association reveals that most students finish the program in three to five years.

To give you an idea of the lengths of various court reporting programs, let’s look at some of those offered in the country. At the Mark Kislingbury Academy of Court Reporting in Texas, the program can be completed in two years or less. Their curriculum includes shorthand theory, English vocabulary and usage for court reporters, medical terminology for court reporters, advanced machine shorthand theory, court reporting punctuation, court reporting technologies, speed building/keyboarding and court reporting procedures.

The court reporting program at Stenotech Career Institute takes about 2 ½ years or 31.5 months to complete. At Long Island Business Institute, a student can complete the program in two years if they attend school fulltime. Those attending part-time will naturally take longer to finish. Meanwhile, the Community College of Allegheny County also has a court reporting program. To graduate, a student needs to complete 67 credits (which will be 69 credits in 2015) which can be obtained in four semesters and two summers.

Certificate and associate’s degrees are usually enough to get graduates entry-level court reporting jobs. A few schools offer a bachelor’s degree in court reporting which can be completed in four years. Humphreys College offers two types of bachelor’s degrees in this field. They have the bachelor of science in court reporting and the bachelor of science in court reporting- CSR online degree. The latter can be done online but is designed only for those who are “currently-licensed California CSR with a minimum one year of reporting experience within the last 10 years.”

After students graduate from a court reporting program, they will need to get certification if they want to work in a legal setting. The requirements will differ from one state to another but it usually involves passing a test. The Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) certification administered by the National Court Reporters Association is accepted in 22 states. To become an RPR necessitates passing a written test and a skills test where candidates need to type a specific number of words per minute.

Court reporters cannot get complacent even if they already have the RPR certification. They will need to comply with the prescribed continuing education units if they want to maintain their certification. Before court reporters start their job, they are typically required by their employers to undergo a short-term on-the-job training program. This training will equip them with additional skills so they will be able to do their work well.

Career Spotlight: Court Reporter

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