If you’re interested in working in the legal field but don’t want to go to school for many extra years just to be a lawyer, plenty of other fields are worth considering. One such field is the area of court reporting, which is an integral aspect of any courtroom process. However, just because you’re interested in doing something doesn’t mean that you will necessarily be a good match for the career itself. Here is what you need to know about the role of a court reporter before deciding whether or not you’re cut out to be in this line of work.
General qualities of a court reporter
Like any career, some qualities make you more apt to succeed as a court reporter than others. Just like you wouldn’t want to work as a preschool teacher if you didn’t like small children, if you aren’t passionate about law and the legal system, it’s probably best to avoid court reporting. At the same time, you need to be able to remain objective and impartial as a court reporter, too. Your role as a court reporter is to provide a factual document that accurately captures the proceedings of a courtroom, and to do this you can’t add any of your own judgment or feelings. Beyond being neutral in the courtroom, you need to exhibit the characteristics of punctuality and timeliness, because a court case cannot start without you present. Organizational skills are also a must, because a judge or jury might request a piece of information be read back to them from any of the prior minutes, hours, or even days.
Typing speed and other knowledge
While soft skills like punctuality and neutrality are good to know, you must possess several hard skills to be a court reporter, too. Court reporters use a variety of technologies in their field, such as stenographer’s equipment, to take notes quickly, so it’s vital that you understand how to operate these tools if you want to succeed in the field. You’ll also need to pass the US Registered Professional Reporter test, which requires you to have an impressive typing speed of 180 words per minute to 225 words per minute without sacrificing too much quality or accuracy. You can use an online typing test to see how you measure up and what you need to work on before completing the test. Many court reporters also need to understand the flow of the courtroom, as well as common legal jargon that may come up during a trial.
Location, location, location
Beyond knowing legal jargon, it’s a good idea to be familiar with the area in which you work. Local geographic terms and state laws frequently get brought up in court cases, and being able to understand and spell these things will help you in your quest to get hired as a court reporter. Even if you’re an excellent court reporter with a history of doing a great job, if you live in Seattle and a high profile court case is happening in Florida, the job is likely to go to a court reporter in Miami. Make sure you consider where you want to live and work as you become licensed as a court reporter, so that you can brush up on the specific local knowledge required to succeed in your field.
Starting out, most court reporters make $27,000 to $35,000 a year; however, a court reporter’s salary can quickly accelerate to the mid $80,000s with hard work and dedication. If you’re interested in studying to become a court reporter, make sure that you possess the above qualities. With effort and the right attitude, you’ll be able to have a fulfilling career in the legal system.
For more articles like this from Social Small Biz, check out our lifestyle category!