COURT REPORTING AS A CAREER

Welcome to our Career Information Center.  This area of our website contains an explanation of court reporting, types of employment, and education.  We offer a wealth of resources for students and working reporters, including test information and other important links.
 
COURT REPORTING:
A TIME-HONORED, HIGH-TECH PROFESSION

The process of preserving thought – whether by direct writing or by capturing speech – is one of mankind’s oldest professions.  It is also one of the world’s most misunderstood.  In the late 1800s and early 1900s, pen shorthand artisans brought efficiency to trial courts and established extraordinary standards of writing excellence, attaining speeds as high as 280 words per minute. 

Today’s high-tech machine shorthand experts use sophisticated stenotype devices and computer technology to convert speech to text instantly and can simultaneously transmit it worldwide.  Speeds as fast as 360 wpm (6 words per second) have been demonstrated.  Closed captioning is a product of this technology.  Pretty far from an old fashioned art!

To learn more about the profession of Court Reporting, select from the appropriate topics, found below.

To learn more about the history of this “timeless profession,” contact or visit The Gallery of Shorthand, the world’s only public display devoted to the evolution of shorthand reporting.  Established in 2001, it is located in the entry rotunda of the federal courthouse in Central Islip, Long Island. http://www.galleryofshorthand.org/

To learn more about the New York State Court Reporters Association – the first shorthand society in the United States – visit our history page using the link that follows. Click here to learn more about the history of NYSCRA.

PROFESSION OF COURT REPORTING
 
 

A court reporter not only writes words, but also indicates who is speaking and uses punctuation to convey how words were said.  For example, punctuation tells whether the witness questioned what was asked or admitted to murder in the example “I killed him? I killed him.”  Thus, shorthand speed, although important, is only one important reporting skill.

Today's court reporters use a shorthand machine – also called a stenotype or stenograph machine – to capture words stenographically, and then use a computer to transcribe their digital shorthand symbols.  They usually provide transcripts within one or two weeks and are sometimes requested to provide them the next day; even at the end of the same day.

A court reporter's speed is objectively tested by reading at a timed rate of speed and then asking the candidate to transcribe.  The number of accurately transcribed words demonstrates the reporter's speed. 

In order to enter the world of verbatim court reporting, a student must demonstrate the ability to write three different types of material at specific speeds:  Literary (a speech) at 180 wpm; Jury Charge at 200 wpm; and 2-voice Q&A testimony at 225 wpm. 

There are two world speed records.  One is 300 wpm (5 words per second) for 5 minutes; the other at 360 wpm (6 wps) for one minute – each with more than 97 percent accuracy.

On the planet earth, only today's verbatim shorthand reporter has the ability to capture unrehearsed voices speaking at conversational speeds in extemporaneous proceedings, then instantly convert that speech to text and simultaneously transmit the result anywhere in the world.  These experts add to that incredible skill the power of the brain, thus detect comprehension or technical problems, can work in all but the most extreme of environments, and use visual acuity to discern near-homophones (80/18; didn't /did it.) 

General

Since 1865, US court reporters have primarily been engaged in the “judicial” (or “legal”) arena – courts and depositions, even arbitrations.  Many have also reported corporate and other meetings.

Triggered by the need to provide communication access to the deaf and hearing impaired communities and in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, additional fields have opened.  These are known as Closed Captioning (subtitling) and CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation).  More employment spinoffs are currently being developed (i.e., mobile phone captioning).

Income Structure in New York

In general, court reporters employed in court are salaried.  When someone requests a transcript of what occurred during the daytime, reporters do this when not in court and therefore earn additional income for transcript preparation. 

Court Reporters who work for other governmental agencies (e.g., Workers' Compensation) are salaried and/or paid on a per diem basis.  Sometimes these court reporters are also paid for transcripts.
 
Freelance court reporters are usually independent contractors.  Most are paid per page for the number of pages reported, with increased page rates for fast delivery.

Captioners and CART providers are paid per assignment or per hour.

Certification and Employment

Possession of a Certified Shorthand Reporter license, mandatory in many other states, is voluntary in New York, so reporters require no certification in order to work.  In the private sector, employers often look to a candidate's performance on independent proficiency examinations to gauge employability.  These tests are available through the National Court Reporters Association and the New York State Court Reporters Association.

The New York State Court System and other civil service court reporting positions (e.g., NYS Workers' Compensation Board) require testing. 

Workers' Compensation
The NYS Workers' Compensation Board hires reporters to make a verbatim record of its proceedings.  Testing is required for employment in this salaried position.  Depending upon needs of the particular Workers' Comp office, court reporters may also be paid for transcript preparation.

New York State Courts
The New York State Unified Court System hires reporters for the NYS court system.  Realtime certification is becoming increasingly important in the court system, although not yet a condition of employment. 

Testing is required.  Successful candidates, ranked by grade, are eligible for appointment to courts throughout the state.  There are separate examinations for the lower and higher courts. 

Examinations are conducted whenever a pool of court reporting talent is needed.  Traditionally, promotional hires are made to the NYS Supreme and County Court before canvassing from an open-competitive list. 

Federal Court
The United States District Court (federal) hires court reporters for its courts, including those within New York State.  No test is required.  When vacancies occur, announcements for experienced reporters are posted in places such as the NYSCRA website.  Reporters who meet stated criteria are told how to apply.  Selected candidates are rigorously interviewed for appointment to this important judicial arena.  Realtime certification has become a prerequisite for most federal court reporting positions.

Freelance
This is the private-sector arena of verbatim reporting.  Law firms often conduct pretrial examinations (depositions, Examinations Before Trial) and arbitrations.  They engage firms, who assign court reporters to proceedings. 
When seeking employment with a freelance agency, proof of performance skills and knowledge are important elements; thus, professional certification is paramount.  Employment is at the discretion of each firm. Attire and demeanor appropriate to working with legal professionals round out employment skills.  New York is not a mandatory CSR state. 

Realtime Reporting Skill
Realtime reporting has become an integral tool of the successful freelance and court reporter.  Thus, achieving realtime certification, and using and staying current about related technology, are vital reporting tools.  This added skill also is often rewarded with higher page rates.  NCRA and this association offer training seminars, certifications, and other assistive tools.

You can obtain information about developing/improving realtime skills by visiting our MALL and EXAM tabs.  Particularly, look for the section about TRAIN-NY.
http://www.nyscra.org/sites/default/files/Powerpoint%20-%202014%20TRAIN%20single%20slide.pdf

CART/CAPTIONING

Both methods use the same basic process.  A court reporter attends the event on site or remotely, and writes the spoken word on a high-tech stenotype machine and electronically transmits the text to a laptop which is connected to an overhead projector or encoder to be viewed.  CART providers produce that text using speech-to-text technology similar to text produced by captioners and realtime for lawyers.

Indicative of their state-of-the-art technological status, both methods can now utilize Google Glass to provide realtime translation.

Closed Captioning (Subtitling)
There is more than one method of providing immediate text of the spoken word to those who are deaf or hard of hearing.  Most people are familiar with closed captioning because they've seen subtitles scrolling across their own television or an airport or restaurant TV.  Captioning is a method of displaying the spoken word during a live or recorded broadcast, through an encoder, onto a screen.

CART (Communication Access Realtime Text) is also a way of capturing the spoken word and displaying it.  This can be displayed on a laptop computer or projected onto a large screen for multiple people to view - ideal for conferences or large meetings.  A laptop might be used in a smaller setting, such as high school or college classes, training sessions, medical appointments, or small meetings.

NCRA's New Markets Task Force has identified significant new opportunities for realtime reporters in the health care and financial industries.  One example:  InReach, which provides continuing education management solutions, has partnered with NCRA to make online education accessible to deaf and hearing impaired users through realtime captioning.  2015 is also expected to see an overhaul of the Americans with Disabilities Act, further strengthening the need for realtime-skilled reporters.

Whether captioning the World Trade Center bombing, helping a deaf student understand his professor, or providing the media with transparency at Guantanamo, the work of nonjudicial reporters is of extreme importance.  Objective certification of these skills is therefore as important as in the legal arena. 

NCRA offers certification for Captioners and CART providers.
Captioners: Click here
CART providers: Click here

An expanding interest in words, focus, dexterity, hard work, attention to detail, self-improvement, mature attire and comportment are important qualities of the professional court reporter.

Minimally, a good reporting school will provide grounding in:

  • Vocabulary (e.g., word usage:  adept/adapt/adopt)
  • Terminology (legal/medical/technical)
  • Grammar and punctuation for the spoken word
  • Transcript format and production
  • Computer-Aided Transcription software
  • Realtime Translation and Dictionary Building

Schools
The past decade has seen an increase in the number of online reporting schools.  There are also onsite schools. 
In addition to completing all other courses, graduation requires shorthand speed of at least 225 wpm 2-voice Q&A.

Finding a Court Reporting School - A
A good place to find a school, and for additional information about a career in court reporting, is NCRA's “CR TAKE NOTE.”  Answer a few questions and you will be matched to schools that best fit you.  It also contains a link to the prestigious Drucker Industry Outlook Report, where you will find a professional analysis of the future of reporting. http://www.crtakenote.com/

Finding a Court Reporting School - B
For your convenience, in order to aid your search the New York State association provides this link to a comprehensive list of schools.  (The association does not endorse or recommend schools.) http://nyscra.com/sitepage.asp?page=ReportingSchools

Students Are The Future Of Court Reporting

Students, per force, are the future of our profession, as in other fields.  Recent years have given birth to extraordinarily talented novice reporters, but the number of graduates is not keeping pace with the need.  As underscored in NYSCRA President Tursi's 2014 Message:

“The US Labor Department predicts a 10 percent growth in reporting by 2022 and a 14 percent growth in reporting salaries by 2020. Business Insider calls reporting “One of 18 most awesome careers.”  And an independent industry outlook report has concluded that by 2018 there will be 5,500 additional reporting jobs, with the greatest demand in four states – including New York!”

The Role of the NYS Court Reporters Association
It is axiomatic that we are a professional association, vested with the duty of improving, certifying, and perpetuating our profession.  It is then also obvious that, since students are our future, we owe it to our members and other colleagues to provide important help to court reporting students.  Here are some NYSCRA programs that support reporting students.

Horizon Scholarship Program
This program, funded by voluntary contributions of NYSCRA members, grants to successful students a $500 scholarship to be applied to court reporting education.  Since 1991, more than $80,000 has been awarded to over 160 students.

The NYSCRA Board chose the name “Horizon” to signify that success is on the horizon for recipients.

Click here for Origin of Horizon Scholarship Award
Click here for Horizon Scholarship Recipients
Click here for Horizon Scholarship Application

Mentoring Program
Enrollment and student retention in New York's court reporting schools is essential to perpetuating all aspects of reporting.  Viable court reporting education and a sufficient pool of future reporters impacts officials, independent freelancers, firm owners, as well as captioners and CART writers.  Thus, NYSCRA is committed to a strong mentoring program – matching seasoned reporters with students nearing graduation to help ease graduates into our profession. 

Mentors consist of court reporters in the freelance and court arenas, CART providers, and captioners.

More information is available at the MENTORING tab.

Student Membership in NYSCRA

The need for competent new reporters is urgent and continuing.  This fact is recognized by the NCRA and our own NYS Court Reporters Association.  Our association welcomes student membership at reduced cost and provides several student resources, including seminars and networking.

Professional Improvement
Many of the seminars conducted by this association are beneficial equally to students and working reporters.  Realtime-writing (TRAIN and similar) is just one example.  Perhaps even more important are certification exams conducted by NYSCRA. 

Practice Dictation
Here are some places where you can find practice dictations and other performance help.  (NYSCRA does not endorse or recommend any particular resource.)
www.StenoTube.com
www.StrivingSteno.com
For pending test preparation offerings, please refer to our EXAMS tab.

Professional Certifications
In many other states, certification is mandatory in order to work.  In New York, certification becomes important (1) to distinguish the student from other candidates for available jobs, (2) to demonstrate ability to report the more difficult/better-paying depositions, and (3) to prepare for tests leading to court and other desired positions.

The Mall
Reporters and students can find helpful products and services, organized by category, in The Mall of this website.  Peruse it to see what interests you.  Also, look for purchase discounts that NYSCRA has obtained for members.

Other Relevant Websites
www.NCRA.org
www.USCRA.org
www.NYCourts.gov

Facebook Links

  • New York State Court Reporters Association Professional social medium for news and other items of interest to New York's reporters. 

 

  • The Gallery of Shorthand

Historical and contemporary postings of professional interest.

  • Encouraging Court Reporting Students

Gifted Texas court reporter Breck Record launched this Facebook page in 2009 in order “to reach more students than were in my area” and because his “passion for students runs very deep....”  His group, numbering 5,800 at the start of 2015, helps and supports each other, with Mr. Record's very active participation.  The kindhearted Mr. Record shares that this group has been “enriching and rewarding for me and made me a better reporter because of it.”

  • Guardians of the Record

California's Mikey McMorran began this group, numbering more than 2,800 at the start of 2015, shortly after graduating court reporting school in 2012.  You will find good interaction and lots of help here.

  • For the Record - Court Reporting Documentary

Oregon's Marc Greenberg (StrivingSteno) spent several years creating this incredible, interesting documentary about our profession.  You can follow its progress here.

  • Other Relevant Facebook Pages

Court Reporters/Students Forum Re: NCRA
Official Reporters – NCRA
CART Providers – NCRA
Captioners – NCRA



Contact NYSCRA
P: 703-729-4861
F: 703-935-2266
Email: contact@nyscra.org
The Transcript Newsletter

Spring 2017 Transcript