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How do I Choose the Best Court Reporter Training?

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  • Written By: John Lister
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 July 2018
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The phrase court reporter has more than one meaning, but most commonly refers to people employed by the court itself to produce a full transcript of a hearing. Because it is such a difficult task, those who are qualified stand a good chance of finding employment. However, candidates must pass through accredited court reporter training before they can even be considered for work.

There are several techniques used which can be covered by court reporter training. The most common is stenography, which uses a special machine that operates similarly to a typewriter, but has buttons corresponding to sounds rather than letters. Another method is voice writing, in which the reporter speaks into a special mask which stops others in the courtroom hearing them. The reporter must repeat everything that is said, and sometimes add detail about the speaker’s gestures. Another technique is electronic recording, in which case the reporter’s role involves supervising and maintaining the equipment rather than speaking or writing.

In the United States, most credible court reporter training courses are accredited by the National Court Reporters Association. In some areas, court reporters must be licensed by local authorities. In the US, this is particularly true of voice writers. The National Verbatim Reporters Association offers voice writer accreditation for people who want to work in states which do not require a license.

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The depth of court reporter training depends on the method used. Electronic reporting is easier to learn, and in many cases the trainee can learn by accompanying a working reporter on the job, and then later working themselves under supervision until they have mastered the skills. Voice reporting can take at least a year to learn in principle and two or more years to become skilled. Stenography is even more complex to learn and it is not uncommon for courses to last for three years.

The phrase court reporter can also mean a journalist who is assigned to court cases. This requires a different set of skills and very different training. This type of court reporter does not have to produce literal word-for-word recordings, but must still take extremely detailed and accurate notes, usually through shorthand. They must then be able to summarize these notes, picking out the most engaging aspects of the case while still remaining fair and balanced. They must also have an excellent of the law, both to understand the case they are reporting on, and to understand the legal restrictions on what they report.

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