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One of the most important roles in a court of law is filled by the one person you’re likely to never hear speak a word. These are the people who memorialize every word spoken by a judge, attorneys, witnesses and in the parties involved on both sides of a legal issue. A. Harrison Barnes, who’s spent a lot of time in a courtroom as an attorney as well as founder, says a court reporter’s accuracy (or lack of) can affect an entire trial or hearing. When someone’s life hangs in the balance, a court reporter must ensure every single word is documented verbatim.

It’s for these reasons, says the founder, a solid education is crucial for those filling these roles. Usually, an Associates degree in Applied Science or Technology is required. Their duties include transcribing proceedings as well as jury instructions and any statements made during the course of a trial. Sometimes referred to as a certified shorthand reporter, these professionals use a stenographic machine that makes various shorthand symbols. Thanks to technology, these machines are usually linked to a computer program that turns those symbols into words.

Salaries will vary and a lot of factors go into determining potential earnings. Experience, education and even the region of the country you’re located in will play a role in what you can expect to earn as you begin your career. Those experienced reporters who provide error-free work can enjoy substantial earnings. Not surprising, those who become court reports find their work satisfying and rarely leave their chosen careers for other careers. And too, for as long as there are legal proceedings and other events that need to be memorialized, there will be positions for court reporters. The technology may continue to advance, but the need for qualified personnel should remain consistent.

Another duty of a court reporter is to read back testimony in hearings or trials when instructed to do so, although that’s not necessary in every trial or court proceeding. After the trial or hearing, the court reporter then prepares the official transcript that becomes a part of the case or file. There are other requirements and while they vary from state to state, the minimum requirements include:
• Ability to take down and translate symbols into English format at a rate of 225 words per minute • Satisfactory completion of both medical and legal terminology • Appropriate licensing from an accredited school for court reporters • Other compliance matters deemed by one’s home state

It’s a very rewarding career choice”, says A. Harrison Barnes. It’s also a great option that offers advancement opportunities, too. There are many excellent programs across the country that offer accreditation, financial assistance and rapid completion options. Think this might be the career for you? Visit to explore your employment options, research salaries and get help composing the perfect resume that’ll get you noticed and hired.

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