Court Transcriptionist: Job Description and Info for Students Considering a Career in Court Transcription
The job of a Court Transcriptionist (sometimes known as a court reporter) is to turn verbal testimony into an extremely-accurate, written transcription for purposes of documenting an event. As the name implies, most Court Transcriptionists are employed in courtrooms documenting the proceedings of trials; however, Court Transcriptionists are also in demand to create closed-captioning in realtime during live, televised events. A high-school diploma is usually required.
Career Definition: Court Transcriptionist
A Court Transcriptionist listens to verbal testimony and creates an accurate, written record of that testimony. Typically, Court Transcriptionists are stenographers, using special machines (similar to a typewriter but able to record multiple letters at a time) to create a transcript of the events; however, other technologies are gaining acceptance, such as the voice recorder, where the Court Transcriptionist wears a special mask which allows him or her to narrate the proceedings into a computer that uses speech recognition to create a verbatim transcription. Most Court Transcriptionists are employed by state or local governments to record trials or the proceedings of various legislative bodies of government.
How to Become a Court Transcriptionist
Required Education for a Career in Court Transcription
Training as a Court Transcriptionist can be on-the-job, but there are training programs available to assist Court Transcriptionists to gain the skills and knowledge needed. Generally, Court Transcriptionists who use voice recorders can be working as 'novices' in about a year, whereas stenographers may take up to three years of training and practice to be able to work consistently. However, voice recording technology is less accepted than stenography, with many courts still unwilling to employ non-stenographic Court Transcriptionists. Licensing and certification requirements vary from state-to-state, but all demand a high-level of skill, accuracy and knowledge. The National Court Reporters Association is a good place to learn about training options.
Skills Required for a Career as a Court Transcriptionist
To be in demand, a Court Transcriptionist must be fast (to work for the federal government, Court Transcriptionists must work at speeds of at least 225 words per minute) and be 100% accurate. Court Transcriptionists must have extremely good hearing to be able to listen and discern different voices and transcribe accurately even when people are talking over one another. Good spelling and grammatical skills, along with knowledge of legal terminology are a must. This is where a good training program may be helpful. Court Transcriptionists who use voice recording technology must be able to listen carefully and narrate accurately at the same time.
Career and Economic Outlook for Court Transcriptionists
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), due to the increasing demand for real-time closed captioning within the television industry, the prospects for current and future employment for Court Transcriptionists is expected to be much better than average with a projected 25% increase over the next decade. As of 2006, of the approximately 19,000 Court Transcriptionists working in the U.S., better than 50% worked for local government with most of the rest working for court reporting agencies. About 9% of Court Transcriptionists are self-employed freelancers. The median income for Court Transcriptionists across the U.S. was $45,610 per year, as of 2006.
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