COURT STENOGRAPHER: Jobs, Salary & How to Become One


Legal trials need an official record to help set a precedent and make sure everyone follows the rules. As needed, judges and attorneys are assisted by court stenographers who keep a complete record of all statements made in the courtroom throughout a trial or other legal action. Understanding what stenographers perform will help you determine if this is a career you wish to pursue. In this article, we define a court stenographer, describe their duties, skills, and salary, as well as the type of keyboard they use for their work. The schools that certify court stenographers and how to become one will also be taken into consideration.

What is a Court Stenographer?

A court stenographer is a professional who is in charge of recording all the statements made by judges, attorneys, and witnesses throughout a trial. To maintain an accurate record of the proceedings, stenographers, also known as court reporters, use specialized keyboards to record every word said in court. Judges and attorneys sometimes request that stenographers repeat aloud statements from their notes to clarify situations and verify claims. A transcript of the court proceedings is created using the court reporters’ records. They occasionally certify the veracity of the transcript using their notarial authority.

Court stenographers are employed in the legal field; they often type while sitting in a courtroom and recording all testimony given during court hearings. In some instances, when court proceedings take place via video call software, they might work from home. Stenographers pay strict attention to detail when making a record and have good typing skills. They frequently come from an administrative or legal backgrounds. To acquire essential skills for their line of work, some stenographers enroll in specialized college programs.

Court Stenographer Duties

Court stenographers are responsible for several crucial tasks Within the judicial system. Some of their duties are listed below:

#1. Capturing court hearings on tape

Court stenographers record all of the arguments made by attorneys, judges, and witnesses as they happen to maintain a record of the proceedings. Stenographers have quick typing speeds and frequently have specialized keyboards that let them type in shorthand and record each word. Stenographers make ensuring that everything said in a courtroom is recorded and made available for review in the legal record. Their work makes sure that everyone in the courtroom follows the right protocol, which helps the legal system run smoothly.

#2. Using technology

A court transcript is created by court reporters using technology to take notes quickly and accurately. Every remark made in the courtroom might be typed up using a steno machine. A record can be created by some stenographers using speech-to-text software that they can subsequently review and edit. Court stenographers check transcripts and make edits using word processing tools. They may print off the finished documents to notarize before submitting them to the courthouse, or they could upload digital copies of the completed documents to court servers.

Stenographers go over the courtroom notes they take and fix any grammar or other errors that might have occurred from typing quickly. To maintain a high level of accuracy, numerous stenographers may occasionally be assigned to the tasks of drafting, reviewing, and finishing court records. Court stenographers create a comprehensive record of the proceedings after the process for lawyers and judges to review in the future. This is crucial for prospective appeals or upcoming legal actions involving the original case.

To serve attorneys and judges, court stenographers keep a live record of events that can be consulted as needed. Earlier trial testimony can be read back by stenographers, and attorneys frequently do so to strengthen their claims. Judges may request that stenographers share information from the record to examine probable legal rule violations. Stenographers spend most of their time typing and making records in the courtroom, but occasionally legal staff will ask them to speak and present their work.

#5. Certifying documents

Some stenographers receive notary public certification, enabling them to affix a seal that attests to the veracity and correctness of papers. Stenographers can create certified legal documents as a result, which can then be submitted to court records. Documents are notarized by stenographers so that they can be used as evidence in court.

Key Skills for Court Stenographer

The success of court stenographers can be attributed to several crucial skills. The following are essential skills for stenographers:

#1. Typing

Those who transcribe court hearings often possess great typing skills and the ability to keep up with the discourse. A dedicated shorthand keyboard is frequently used by stenographers to enable speedier typing by requiring fewer keystrokes per word. The majority of the time, they practice on the new gadget after developing solid typing abilities on a regular keyboard. Such skills are necessary for stenographers to keep up with the rapid-fire pace of court proceedings and guarantee they don’t miss anything when transcribing the events.

#2. Attention to details

Each statement delivered in court is carefully listened to by stenographers, who work to precisely type it down. They frequently check their work afterward and fix any errors brought on by hurried typing or the use of shorthand techniques. Stenographers strive to generate records that as closely reflect the court proceedings as possible because they recognize the value of accurate recordkeeping. Stenographers take great care to ensure that their work is accurate because small details can make or break legal challenges or inquiries.

#3. Communication

Stenographers who are good at communicating can listen to demands from judges, attorneys, and other legal personnel and give them crucial information as needed. When asked, stenographers frequently take part in court proceedings by reading back important statements. They rapidly looked through their notes before reading the testimony aloud to make key points clear. Together with other legal staff, court stenographers support court proceedings. Stenographers may collaborate to create a final record after a trial is over. They share responsibility for compiling the final transcript, editing it, and delivering it to the court.

Court Stenographer Keyboard

A particularly unique type of keyboard is used only by a court stenographer. The keyboard of this amazing machine uses a stenotype machine, commonly known as a stenograph, and only has 22 keys instead of the usual 104.

The two rows of keys down each side of the court stenographer keyboard include the consonants, while the four keys in the center at the front contain the vowels A, O, E, and U.

There is a key with an asterisk in the center of the keyboard that is neither one nor the other. The number bar that runs along the top of the keyboard and some of the alphabetical keys can also be used to locate numbers if they are needed.

The technique, which uses a shorthand style, is only loosely based on phonetics and requires that specific sentences be spelled out as needed.

Can You Use a Normal Keyboard for Court Stenographer?

Yes, you can use a regular keyboard as a court stenographer. All that is needed is a keyboard with N-Key Rollover or NKRO. This is a function that many gaming keyboards have, and the Microsoft Sidewinder X4 keyboard is suggested.

Since stenography machines can cost as much as $1500 and as much as $5000, they are a viable choice to take into account if you only want to practice or study stenography. Professional stenographers continue to utilize stenotype keyboards so they may type in abbreviated shorthand while working.

Salary for Court Stenographer

As of May 1, 2023, the average court stenographer salary in the US is $61,501, but the range frequently varies between $44,401 and $80,501. Salary ranges can vary significantly depending on a variety of crucial aspects, including schooling, credentials, supplementary talents, and the length of time you’ve been working in a given field. assists you in determining your precise pay target by providing more online, real-time compensation data than any other website.

Court Stenographer Schools

People can learn the procedures and strategies required to transcribe spoken words in real-time, usually in a trial context, from court stenographer schools. Court reporters and news reporters need to be rapid typists with good hearing and language abilities.

Certification, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree are all possible outcomes of a court-reporting education. To save recordings that may be consulted during a trial or for future review, students participating in reporting programs will learn how to operate one or more of the devices used to record discussions, testimonies, or disputes.

To better comprehend and document happenings in a courtroom, students will acquire a fundamental level of legal knowledge, mostly in the form of legal jargon. Through the use of equipment and simulated environments under the guidance of lecturers or professionals, students will also gain practical experience.

Online Opportunities to Become a Court Reporter

Numerous authorized universities across the US offer on-campus and online court reporting diploma, certificate, and degree programs. The secret is to match your schedule, resources, and career goals with a school’s online options to select the program that is perfect for you.

Colleges that provide court stenographers have put together a top-notch court reporter program that is available both online and on campus. For years, reporters have advanced their careers and entered the legal industry by using court reporting programs at colleges. In reality, reporting schools located inside larger institutions and national court reporters have achieved national renown. Regional reporting schools and state-accredited courthouses offer certificates in court reporting to national court reporters.

How to Become Court Stenographer

You document court proceedings in writing, verbatim, as a court stenographer. You translate your code into plain text after making a written record, then format the text to show who is speaking. Your other responsibilities include checking the accuracy of your work against audio recordings, submitting transcripts to the court clerk, and giving copies upon request to attorneys, judges, and members of the public.

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma

Any court stenographer program will only accept applicants with a high school diploma or GED. Since there aren’t many high school classes that prepare you to work in the area, it’s doubtful that you can start preparing while still in high school. But taking typing or business classes can assist you in starting to increase your typing speed in preparation for eventual stenography technology adoption.

Step 2: Complete an Associate’s Degree Program

The normal training period for court stenographers is 33 months. Extended associate’s degree programs in court stenography that span three years rather than two are widely available at community colleges and technical schools. Legal vocabulary, medical terminology, courtroom procedures, and the American legal system are all covered in programs that teach you how to use computer-aided transcription and stenography equipment.

Step 3: Obtain a License

There isn’t a standardized state licensing requirement in place for court stenographers. To become a Certified Court Reporter, you must pass an exam in some states, while notary public status is required in others. In states that allow voice recorder transcription, a license can be replaced with certification from the National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA). The Certified Verbatim Reporter, Certificate of Merit, and Real-Time Verbatim Reporter are among the NVRA credentials available to voice writers.

Step 4: Obtain a Job

Your most likely employers are state governments, local governments, and court reporting firms, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( A significant government focus is anticipated to be non-legal captioning. About 21,300 court stenographers were working in 2020. Employment was predicted to increase by 3% between 2020 and 2030. The median annual salary, according to the BLS, was $61,660 in 2020.

Step 5: Obtain Certification

The United States Court Reporters Association (USCRA) and the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), two professional associations, can certify you. The Federal Certified Realtime Reporter (FCRR) designation is provided by USCRA. A 5-minute dictation test at 180–200 words per minute makes up the FCRR exam. To qualify, you must be a USCRA member but not necessarily a federal court stenographer.

Do Stenographers Type Every Word?

A stenographer can type a whole word with the help of a stenotype machine.

How Do Court Stenographers Type So Fast?

Stenographers use a special keyboard called a “steno machine” that enables them to type more quickly than sound! Compared to a conventional QWERTY keyboard, steno machines have fewer keys.

Where Do Stenographers Make the Most Money?

New Jersey has the highest median salary for court reporters out of all 50 states, with Alaska having the lowest at $98,431.

Are Stenographers Still Used in Court?

Stenography continues to be the most popular method of recording written proceedings, both within and outside of the courtroom, even if court reporters of today may use a range of cutting-edge technologies.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Stenographer?

The normal training period for court stenographers is 33 months. Extended associate’s degree programs in court stenography that span three years rather than two are widely available at community colleges and technical schools.

Is It Hard to Learn Stenography?

Yes. Steno (machine shorthand) instruction is challenging in and of itself, let alone the 225 words per minute speed requirement needed to pass the program.


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