Court Recorder: Job Duties & Career Information

Court recorders, also known as court reporters, use stenographic machines, voice writing, or electronic and audio equipment to transcribe speech into written word, working in courtrooms, business environments, or the communications industry. Read on to learn about the education, salary and employment outlook pertaining to this career.

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Career Definition

A court recorder, also known as a court reporter, transcribes speech into written form. Court recorders can work in courtrooms, but many court recorders also work for businesses, government agencies, and broadcasting conglomerates. Their services can be seen in sales meetings or on television captions for the hearing impaired. Court recorders transcribe using stenographic machines, voice writing mechanisms, or electronic and audio hardware. Stenotype machines are similar to typewriters and are utilized for real time transcription. When using voice writing machines, the court recorder speaks into a microphone and transcribes the recording later. Electronic recording devices utilize speech recognition technology for immediate transcription. In addition to documenting words, court recorders are responsible for editing their transcriptions and storing their data. To ensure accurate transcriptions, they must also create and maintain computerized dictionaries that correspond to their reporting devices.

How to Become a Court Recorder

Required Education

A court recorder must have a high school diploma or GED. Many postsecondary schools offer court reporting certificates, associate's degrees, or bachelor's degrees in court reporting. Additionally, some states require that a court recorder take a professional exam to be certified. A court recorder can also take additional exams to obtain higher certifications to prove above-average competencies or to qualify for teaching, managing or consulting positions.

Skills Required

Court recorders must have exceptional listening skills and sharp hearing. They must work quickly with minimal errors and have exceptional spelling and grammar skills. Additionally, court recorders should keep abreast of current events and, if they work in a courtroom, be aware of legal vocabulary and procedures. Computer literacy is also a necessity. The federal government requires that stenographers type 225 words per minute.

Career and Economic Outlook

In May 2012, the mean annual salary for a court reporter was $53,010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). The majority of court recording jobs are found in local government, state government, and business support services, which offer a combined total of more than 17,000 jobs. Employment in the court recording realm is expected to increase at an average rate of 10% through 2022. Individuals with certifications and the ability to branch outside the courtroom will have the best opportunities for employment.

Alternate Career options

Interpreter and Translator

Often having a bachelor's degree, an essential requirement for these professionals who convert written, spoken or signed information from one language to another, is fluency in at least two languages. The BLS projected a much faster than average increase in interpreter and translator positions from 2012-2022 of 46%. In 2012, the BLS reported an annual average wage of $53,410 for these workers.

Medical Transcriptionist

Many of these transcriptionists, who convert voice recordings of doctors and other healthcare providers to a written format, complete 1- to 2-year postsecondary training programs in medical transcription. Expected growth in these jobs was about as fast as average, at 8%, from 2012-2022. The average annual wage for medical transcriptionists in 2012 was $34,650, according to the BLS.

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