What is Court Reporting?

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Court reporters are highly trained professionals who share a unique ability to convert the spoken word into information that can be read, searched, and archived. This specialization has created new career paths for reporters, including broadcast captioning and realtime translation services for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.


What do court reporters do?

Court reporters, also known as guardians of the record because of their impartiality and role within the judicial process, capture the words spoken by everyone during a court or deposition proceeding. Court reporters then prepare verbatim transcripts of proceedings. The official record or transcript 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. During the discovery phase, attorneys also use deposition transcripts to prepare for trial. By combining their skills with the latest technology, some court reporters provide realtime access to what is being said during a trial or deposition for the benefit of all involved parties. A court reporter providing realtime, which is the only proven method for immediate voice-to-text translation, allows attorneys and judges to have immediate access to the transcript while also providing a way for deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans to participate in the judicial process.

Learn about the value of court reporting


A career in court reporting


Court reporters earn an average of more than $60,000 a year, though many earn much more. Income varies according to the area in which a person lives, certifications earned, the kinds of reporting jobs, and experience of individual reporters.

Schools and programs

The knowledge and skills to become a court reporter or captioner are taught at more than 150 reporter training programs, including proprietary schools, community colleges, and four-year universities. Many of these programs offer distance learning options. Visit our website to learn more about the various schools and programs offered and the resources available to prospective students on DiscoverSteno.org 


Upon graduation, court reporters can further their marketability and earn recognition for achieving high levels of expertise in particular reporter markets by pursing certification. Learn more about NCRA's professional certifications.


Realtime reporters are highly trained professionals who share a unique ability to convert the spoken word into English text instantly into a feed that can be read, streamed, broadcast, searched, and archived. This specialization includes broadcast captioning and realtime translation services for people who are deaf and hard of hearing, as well as providing near-instant translation in legal and other settings. Learn more

Court reporter career paths

More than 70 percent of the nation’s 50,000-plus court reporters work outside of the court. Because court reporting involves a highly specialized skill set, reporters have a variety of career options:


Freelance reporters are hired by attorneys, corporations, unions, associations, and other individuals and groups who need accurate, complete, and secure records of pretrial depositions, arbitrations, board of director meetings, stockholder meetings, and convention business sessions.


Hearing court reporters use verbatim methods and equipment to capture, store, retrieve, and transcribe pretrial and trial proceedings or other information. Also includes captioners who operate computerized stenographic captioning equipment to provide captions of live or prerecorded broadcasts for viewers who are hard of hearing.


Legislative court reporters transcribe proceedings in the United States Congress and in state legislatures around the country.


Official court reporters work for the judicial system to convert the spoken word into text during courtroom proceedings. The reporter also prepares official verbatim transcripts to be used by attorneys, judges, and litigants. Official court reporters are front and center at controversial or famous cases – criminal trials, millionaire divorces, government corruption trials, and lawsuits – ensuring that an accurate, complete, and secure record of the proceedings is produced. Official court reporters may also provide realtime during a courtroom setting to allow participants to read on a display screen or computer monitor what is being said instantaneously. Learn more


A scopist is a professional transcript editor for court reporters. However, unlike an editor or a proofreader, a scopist has the ability to compare a court reporter’s shorthand to the finished transcript. By “scoping” the transcript, mistranslate errors can be identified, thereby helping the court reporter preserve an accurate record. Learn more


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