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Court Reporter Training and Certification

In the United State the training required to become a court reporter varies by specialization and licensure requirements are unique to each State.

Court Reporter/Stenographer Education and Training

The requirements for and the amount of training required to become a court reporter varies with the type of court reporting chosen. In about a year a person can become a novice voice writer, and it takes at least two years to become proficient at realtime voice writing. In most cases electronic reporters and transcribers learn their skills on the job. On average it takes about 33 months to become a realtime stenotypist. Court Reporter training is offered by about 130 post secondary vocational and technical schools and colleges. The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) has certified about 70 programs, all of which offer courses in stenotype computer-aided transcription and real-time reporting. To become NCRA-certified programs require students to capture a minimum of 225 words per minute, a requirement for Federal Government employment as well.

In most cases electronic court reporters use audio-capture technology and can usually learn their skills on the job. Students can work at their own pace by reading manuals, reviewing the information with their trainers, and observe skilled electronic transcribers and court reporters perform procedures. In most cases electronic transcribers or electric court reporters generally obtain initial technical training from a vendor when it is placed in service, with further court-specific court reporting and training provided on the job. If working for a private company or organization, hands-on training occurs under direct supervision of an established practitioner or court reporting firm.

Court Reporting Licensure - Voice Writers

In some States it is required that voice writers pass a test and to earn State licensure. As a substitute for State licensure, the National Verbatim Reporters Association offers three national certifications to voice writers: Certified Verbatim Reporter (CVR), Certificate of Merit (CM), and Real-Time Verbatim Reporter (RVR). By earning these certifications it is sufficient to be licensed in States where the voice method of court reporting is permitted. Candidates for the first certification—the CVR—must pass a written test of spelling, punctuation, vocabulary, legal and medical terminology and three 5-minute dictation and transcription examinations that test for speed, accuracy, and silence. The second certification, the CM will require additional levels of speed, knowledge, and accuracy to be certified. The RVR certification measures the candidate’s skill at real-time transcription, judicial reporting, CART provision, and captioning, including in some States Web casting. As in most cases to retain these certifications, the voice writer must obtain continuing education credits. Credits are given for voice writer education courses, continuing legal education courses, and college courses.

States may require court reporters to be notary publics. Others states require the Certified Court Reporter (CCR) designation, for which a reporter must pass a State test administered by a board of examiners.

To become a court Reporter other qualifications may be required. In court reporting speed and accuracy are important, in addition court reporters must have excellent listening skills and hearing, very good English grammar, vocabulary, and proper punctuation skills. Good court reporters must be aware of business practices and current events as well as the correct spelling of names of people, places, locations, and events that may be mentioned in a broadcast or in court proceedings. It is required when working in courtrooms that an expert knowledge of legal terminology and criminal and appellate procedure is essential. In some cases because capturing proceedings requires the use of computerized stenography or speech recognition equipment, court reporters must be knowledgeable about computer hardware and software applications. It is important that voice writers learn to listen and speak simultaneously and very quickly and quietly, all of the while they will be also identifying speakers and describing peripheral activities in the courtroom, deposition room or meeting room.

Types of Court Reporter Certification

Certifications will help court reporters get jobs and advance in their careers. There are several associations that offer certifications for different types of court reporters.

Registered Professional Reporter

The National Court Reporters Association confers the entry-level designation Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) upon those who pass a four-part examination and participate in mandatory continuing education programs. It is voluntary, and the designation is recognized as a mark of distinction in the court reporting field. Registered Merit Reporter, Registered Diplomate Reporter, Certified Realtime Reporter, Certified Broadcast Captioner, Certified CART Provider Court reporters may obtain additional certifications that demonstrate higher levels of experience and competency, such as Registered Merit Reporter (RMR) or Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR). The NCRA also offers the designations Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR), Certified Broadcast Captioner (CBC), and Certified CART Provider (CCP), designed for those who caption media programs or assist people who are deaf.

Court reporters can also receive certification in administrative and management, consulting, or teaching positions. These court reporting certifications usually require additional experience and education.

In the United States the US Court Reporters Association offers other voluntary certification designation, the Federal Certified Realtime Reporter (FCRR), for the court reporters that work in Federal courts. The special court reporting exam is designed to test the basic real-time court reporting skills of Federal court reporters and is recognized by the Administrative Office for the United States District Courts for purposes of real-time certification.

American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT) certifies electronic court reporters. The AAERT certification is voluntary and includes both a written and a practical examination. Just to be eligible to take the exams, candidates must have at least 2 years of court reporting or transcribing experience, be eligible for notary public commissions in their States, and have completed high school. AAERT offers three types of certificates: Certified Electronic Court Reporter (CER), Certified Electronic Court Transcriber (CET), and Certified Electronic Court Reporter and Transcriber (CERT). In some cases employers may require electronic court reporters and transcribers to obtain certificates once they are eligible to assure professional and accurate court reporting.

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