Frequently Asked Questions
Common questions regarding your future career as a court reporter or stenographer can be found below. If you have additional questions, please call 800-273-5090 or use the "Click to Chat" above to talk to an admissions specialist.
What do court reporters do in the legal field?
Whether they work in court or as freelance deposition reporters, court reporters capture the words spoken by everyone during the proceeding and, if requested by one or more of the parties, prepare a verbatim transcript of it. Attorneys use deposition transcripts to prepare for trial. And the transcript of the trial helps safeguard the legal process: When litigants want to exercise their right to appeal, they will use the transcript to provide an accurate record of what transpired during their case.
Official court reporters and deposition reporters are front and center at controversial or famous cases - criminal trials, millionaire divorces, government corruption trials, lawsuits against everyone from rock stars to business leaders. A court reporter not only records history but also contributes to it through real-time technology that keeps all parties in litigation working at a swift pace and enables counsel to quickly analyze each day's events.
What is broadcast captioning and how does that relate to court reporting?
Broadcast captioners, also called stenocaptioners, use court reporter skills on the stenotype machine to provide captions of live television programs for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers, through real-time technology that instantly produces readable English text. Stenocaptioners work for local stations and for national channels and networks captioning news, emergency broadcasts, sports events and other programming.
The Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 has some very specific mandates for closed captioning of local programs around the country. What this means for the reporting community is an enormous increase in the demand for real-time captioners to cover local news broadcasts all around the country, mornings, afternoons, and evenings. Broadcast captioners can work from a remote site. In other words, a captioner in Atlanta, Georgia, can transmit their captions via modem to a television station in Lexington, Kentucky. This need for remote site captioning talent will increase as we approach the 2006 deadline set by the Federal Communications Commission. Moreover, the federal government has realized the importance of eliminating the shortage of captioners. Since 2001, several NCRA-approved reporter training programs have received about 12 million in federal grants to help continue or develop captioning training programs.
What else do reporters do?
A version of the captioning process called Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) allows court reporters to provide more personalized services for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. Most deaf people lose their hearing after acquiring reading and speaking skills, and many of them do not become as proficient with a sign language as they are reading text. CART reporters accompany deaf clients as needed -- for example, to college classes -- to provide an instant conversion of speech into text using the stenotype machine linked to a laptop computer.
How much money can a court reporter earn?
A survey of members of the National Court Reporters Association in 2004 indicated the average income for respondents was $64,672. However, reporters' earnings depend on location, level of training, level of certification achieved, areas of specialization and other factors. In court reporting, earning potential often is limited only by the amount of time a reporter is willing to devote to the profession. Official court reporters usually earn a salary and a per-page fee for preparing transcripts. Freelance reporters are paid per job and receive a per-page fee for transcripts.
Salaried positions for broadcast captioners can range from $45,000 to $75,000, and independent contractors can earn from $36,000 to more than twice that amount, depending on the number of on-air hours. CART reporters can earn between $35,000 and $65,000 per year.
I'm interested in court reporting as a career possibility, but what effect will technology have on the future of the profession?
But the National Court Reporters Association expects the need for reporters to remain strong for the foreseeable future. A trained reporter using the latest real-time computer-aided transcription processes remains the fastest, most accurate way to turn spoken information into readable, searchable, permanent text.
This ability continues to have application in courts and in pretrial depositions, where most reporters work, and, increasingly, in the specialized areas of creating captions of live television programming and providing CART services for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 mandates a tremendous increase over the next few years in the amount of TV and sports programming that must be captioned. And deaf and hard-of-hearing students in colleges and universities all over the country have the right, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, to request the accommodation of real-time translation to assist them in their classes while attending school. One of the marvelous advances with emerging technology in the last decade is that we have eliminated distance as a barrier to access. Regardless of where you are, if you have access to telephone lines, you can provide this service; and conversely, wherever you are, no matter how remote a location, you can receive this service.
The Internet will affect how reporting services are provided as online video technology improves and more meetings, college classes, and depositions take place on the Internet. As in the face-to-face world, reporters will be in demand online to provide instantaneous text of those meetings in a searchable, easy-to-access medium.
Regarding voice recognition, no expert is yet predicting that we are anywhere close to having systems that recognize multiple speakers. Court systems are under great pressure to reduce costs, so virtually all of them have installed audio or video recording systems in some courts. However, court reporters offer technological advantages of their own, namely the ability to produce readable text in real-time -- essentially the voice-to-print capability that voice recognition supposedly delivers, only reporters are more accurate.
Where can I learn more about court reporting?
Visit the National Court Reporters Association's (NCRA) Web site. There you will see information that working reporters find useful, as well as more about the history of reporting, the technology involved, and more.
You also can visit the U.S. Department of Labors Occupational Outlook Handbook section on Court Reporters.
Where can I learn more about broadcast captioning?
You can learn more about captioning at The National Court Reporters Association's Captioning Community of Interest page. There are also a number of other online sources to explore. The larger captioning companies have informative Web sites, including The Caption Center, Vitac and the National Captioning Institute.
How do I know if I qualify for this program?
You must possess a high school diploma or have completed a General Education Development (GED) program. Our experienced career planners will help you determine if this is a good fit for you.
What can the Stenotype Institute offer me?
The Stenotype Institute offers you a phenomenal education and professional guidance to help you get your career started. Additionally, the Stenotype Institute offers leading technology and class settings to provide each student with proper attention and assistance.
How can I make time for my education?
We offer the flexibility of day evening, or online classes. Many of our students attend school and maintain full-time or part-time employment. Apply today and an admissions representative will walk you through your options.
What are your retention & job placement rates?
The Stenotype Institute is extremely proud of our retention rate and job placement rate over the last decade. Both of our campuses work hard to empower our students to learn and achieve their goals. Click here to view our disclosure of program retention rates and graduate job placement rates.