What is a Court Reporter?

What is a court reporter? For private citizens who don’t pay attention to the minutiae of court proceedings, they can seem like an antiquated addition. To others who understand the necessity of transcription services, they are useful additions to the legal field, both to the court and to reporters covering the case.


A court reporter is a professional that records legal proceedings using a stenotype machine, which is a machine that uses a phonetic code that a reporter then uses to transcribe the proceedings for which they were present for. These are licensed and certified professionals who most often possess postgraduate qualifications and have trained for years in the field of real-time writing. They are the officials who produce legal proceeding transcripts that can be used for court, both during the present trial or in future cases as precedent.


Court reporters are tasked with transcribing, using shorthand, legal proceedings. They must be able to write 225 words per minute, be proficient in real-time writing and computer-aided transcription, and have excellent grammar skills. Reporters must also understand legal principles, ethics, medical terminology, business concepts, and more. They are also tasked with sending their reports and transcriptions to the entities involved in the legal proceedings, requiring them to have a high level of professionalism. Because of the nature of their work, court reporters are tasked with being flexible, either real-time writing and later transcribing the code or real-time writing and producing the transcript while in court proceedings.

Career Requirements

Education and skills training plays a large role in court reporting. These individuals are often not required to have a college education in the form of an undergraduate degree, but it is highly preferred by most employers. Court reporters actually are required to take on specialized training in the form of workshops, short courses, and courses at private business schools that focus on real-time reporting. It is generally thought that a court reporter will need at least three years of training in voice writing and real-time reporting. Some states also require that a court reporter complete certification to work in that state; it is also increasingly preferred that candidates be a notary public as well.

Employment Opportunities

Court reporters are often employed by local, county, state, and federal courts; however, these are not the only work options available to them. These professionals can work for court reporting companies that serve law firms, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and large corporations. They can also work as freelancers, providing their services to news publications, tv shows, private law firms, and more. Because their work is composed of transcribing, verbatim, court proceedings and legal events, their skills are in high demand by a variety of industries. In addition, some court reporters are also notary publics, giving them flexibility in the kind of work they take on.

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Few people understand the specialization of real-time writing, but it’s incredibly useful in legal proceedings. Without these professionals, the transcripts would not exist and questions would be raised about prior court events. Now that the role of the court reporter has been defined and overviewed, individuals can decide if this is the right path forward for them.