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What is a Court Transcriptionist?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 24 January 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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A court transcriptionist is an expert typist who is responsible for recording court proceedings verbatim. He or she utilizes shorthand techniques and modern computer programs to ensure that every spoken word is transcribed perfectly into an official document. Transcriptionists work during trials, preliminary hearings, non-confidential conferences with attorneys, and other situations wherein it is important to have a legal written record. There are generally ample job opportunities available for talented professionals since they possess very specific and unique skill sets.

There are several different techniques that a court transcriptionist might use to perform his or her job. The traditional and most widely used method is stenography, which involves using a specialized typewriter or computer keyboard. By pressing certain buttons in combination, a transcriptionist can type whole syllables or words at a time instead of keying them in letter-by-letter. A version of shorthand is also used to eliminate the need to transcribe very long words during a rapid proceeding.

Following a trial or hearing, the court transcriptionist reviews his or her document and edits it appropriately. Shorthand notation is expanded and any spelling errors or other mistakes are corrected. The editing process was often very tedious in the past, but most modern court transcriptionists now use computer software to make the task much quicker and easier. Computer programs can be set up to automatically fix common errors and expand abridged text.

Voice writing is another common technique that involves repeating everything that is said in the courtroom into a recording device. The court transcriptionist takes written notes to keep track of who says what during the proceeding. He or she then listens to the recording after the hearing and types out an official transcript. Voice writing is preferred over recording audio from the actual trial because speakers may be quiet or difficult to understand on tape.

The requirements to become a court transcriptionist can vary by region. Most professionals hold certificates or associate degrees from accredited vocational schools or community colleges. The length and nature of an education program depends on the kind of transcribing a student hopes to do; voice writers are usually able to complete their training in about one year and begin seeking entry-level positions. It can take two to three years of full-time schooling to master stenography. Many regions also require hopeful transcriptionists to earn licensure by passing written and practical exams before they can start working independently.

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