Court Transcription Training Programs and Requirements

Court transcription, the typed reproduction of legal proceedings, is done by individuals known as court reporters or court transcriptionists. Men and women interested in court transcription should complete a postsecondary training program offered by a vocational school or community college.

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Training Requirements and Recommendations

To become a court transcriptionist, one must have a high school diploma and attend a postsecondary training program. Court reporters are usually taught to use stenotype machines or voice recorders. Those who complete a training program accredited by the National Court Reporters Association will have learned to capture at least 225 words per minute, which is a requirement for federal employment. Court transcriptionists must have above-average listening and grammar skills, and they should also be able to work efficiently under time constraints.

Formal Education

Court transcription training programs vary in length, depending on one's chosen area of concentration, such as stenography, electronic reporting or real-time voice writing. Additionally, some training programs are hour-based as opposed to credit-based, and students advance only after they've acquired a particular skill set. Consequently, students may take up to three years to complete training.

Certificate in Court Reporting

At the certificate level, aspiring court transcriptionists study grammar and composition. They gain a foundation in business law, as well as medical and legal terms. These programs also have courses in computer-aided transcription and machine shorthand.

Associate of Applied Science Degree in Court Reporting

Students enrolled in a court reporting associate degree program learn to document court proceedings, medical dictation and legal depositions using real-time and machine transcription technologies. They learn about courtroom procedures and relevant terminology. They also take word processing and keyboarding classes to build typing speed and accuracy.

Job Experience

Employers typically seek court transcriptionists who have participated in at least one cooperative work experience. Trained court transcriptionists generally are able to work in various capacities besides legal documentation. Businesses and health care facilities hire transcriptionists to document meetings, notes and other real-time proceedings or recordings. Television studios also hire court transcriptionists for broadcast captioning and communication access real-time translation.

Licenses and Certifications

In some states, licensure is required to work as a court transcriptionist. To qualify, court reporters must pass an exam. Additionally, some states require court transcriptionists to be notaries.

Depending on a court transcriptionist's area of specialty, voluntary certifications are available through a number of organizations, including the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers, National Verbatim Reporters Association, National Court Reporters Association and U.S. Court Reporters Association. Generally, to qualify for credentialing, court transcriptionists must meet typing requirements and pass an exam. Some organizations also require transcriptionists to meet minimum work experience requirements.

Workshops and Seminars

Court transcriptionists can attend industry conferences, which often last 3-4 days and include mini-workshops and seminars. Through these events, transcriptionists can learn about trends in court reporting, new technologies and marketing techniques for independent contractors. Also, some court reporting websites offer 1-2 hour online seminars on topics ranging from ethics to proofreading.

Additional Professional Development

A number of continuing education resources, which can keep court transcriptionists up to date on current events and legal changes, are available via the Internet. Some court reporting websites also allow visitors to sign up for virtual newsletters. There are also Web-based magazines centered on the court reporting industry.

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