Skills You'll Need To Be A Successful Court Reporter

Posted on: 26 March 2015

If you've considered entering the job market to become a court reporter, it's important to note that it takes utilizing several skills to make your job successful. A court reporter is someone who transcribes speech into written form for recording proper legal documentation This is typically conducted in a courtroom or law office. Being able to listen and manually type every aspect of a court case is one of the main job descriptions of a qualified court reporter. Here are some skills to obtain before becoming a court reporter.


According to the Bureau Of Labor Statistics, the demand for court reporters in the workplace will increase by 10 percent within the next ten years. If an exciting career in the legal field is of interest to you, narrowing down a specialty involves tallying up the skills you have and what you wish to learn how to do. If you enjoy the atmosphere of a courtroom and following court cases, a career as a court reporter or stenographer may be a great career option. In order to break into this field, you'll need to obtain the right education. A good place to start is a community college or technical school that offers a 2-year degree or certificate program. From there, you may have to become certified with the NCRA or National Court Reporters Association to ensure you are trained and ready for your next career move as a court reporter.

Excellent Communication Skills

Part of your education will cover how to effectively communicate within the courtroom. Because you will spend the majority of your time at court, you'll need to learn the basic fundamentals of court proceedings as well as:

  • Understanding law terms related to court hearings and depositions
  • Being able to listen and capture dialogue accurately and quickly
  • Replay and read back certain parts of the proceeding as requested by the judge
  • Know and understand technical jargon as it changes from case to case
  • Transcribe dialogue to screens for hearing impaired individuals in the courtroom

Being able to listen effectively as the platform changes is key to becoming a successful court reporter.

Typing Experience

One of the main job duties that you will have to perform is typing out every portion of each testimony via a stenotype machine. This type of machine has fewer keys than a traditional alphanumeric keyboard. Part of your education and training will be learning how to operate the stenotype machine. You'll learn how to use chording or stroking methods to generate a single stroke to produce words and phrases. The two main components when operating the machine include accuracy and extreme speed. On average, a court reporter operates a stenotype machine while writing speeds between 180 and 225 words per minute. The faster and more accurate you are, the more money you can demand in this field.

Detail Oriented

Not only will you need to keep up with everyone speaking in the courtroom, you'll have to be very detail oriented and organized also. This means keeping your workspace clean and important documents within visible distance for quick referencing if necessary. Being able to locate and repeat transcribed testimony within seconds or minutes to the judge or legal counsel is a priority with this job.

A legal career as a court reporter is exciting and ever-changing. Bringing your skills to the table along with a solid education will put you in position for a rewarding career for years to come.