Becoming a Court Reporter is a Challenge to Most
Both the federal government and the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) require that students be able to type a minimum of 225 words per minute using the specialized court stenograph machine, before they can graduate. This is a very high standard, and court reporting education is filled with stories of students who had to drop out of programs because they could not get their typing speed up to at least that level. Nevertheless, if you have the determination as well as the manual dexterity, you may have what it takes to succeed in graduating from a court reporting course.
In a good court reporting program, you will learn medical and legal vocabulary; grammar, spelling, and other basics of writing and English; speed building in dictation; ethics for court reporting; and all the required technology for today’s court reporters, including how to use both the necessary hardware and software.
Commonly, a court reporting program that you physically attend can be finished in about 33-36 months. However, if you believe that you have the aptitude and self-discipline to work on a self-paced basis, you may wish to look into online court reporting schools, where you may be able to graduate in about 1 year. Once you finish your court reporting courses, you’ll receive a certificate and be able to sit for any certification exam that your state requires.
When searching for court reporting schools, be sure to ask regarding how modern their equipment is; how long their average student takes to reach minimum required typing speeds; what proportion of students graduate; what proportion of graduates pass your state’s certification exam, if there is one; what proportion of their students become reporters; and what the school’s graduation requirements are. It is also important to check into what the program faculty’s credentials are, including how many are nationally credentialed as Certified Reporting Instructors.
You should check, too, to see whether the school has an internship program. The standard of the NCRA is that they approve only schools which offer such a program to their court-reporting students. And finally, ask whether the school offers job placement assistance.