Court reporters, also referred to as stenographers, attend legal proceedings or public speeches to create word-for-word transcriptions with a stenotype machine for thorough records.
Court reporters are typically responsible for recording spoken dialogue, reporting various gestures or physical actions, reviewing notes for accurate names or terminology, preparing complete written transcripts, editing records for any typographical spelling or grammar mistakes, searching for information in records, and providing copies of the transcripts to the court and parties involved.
How much does a court reporter make? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 18,590 court reporters employed throughout the United States. The annual average court reporter salary is $53,010, which is equivalent to an average hourly wage of $25.48.
The lowest ten percent of court reporters earned $24,790 or less, while the top ten percent of court reporters approach the six-figure salary mark with a mean annual salary of $90,530. Court reporters employed in motion picture and video industries make significantly less than average at $45,090, but those that work for local governments earn the highest wages at $56,920 each year. The top-paying state for the field is by far New York, where court reporters bring home a mean salary of $84,090 annually.
The majority of court reporters, nearly 56 percent, are employed by state and local governments to work within courts, legislatures, and other criminal justice system settings. Others may find employment in business supportive services, television or motion picture industries for closed captioning purposes, or other services turning speech into writing for deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals.
Some court reporters also work as freelance reporters for pretrial depositions, live public speaking events, or captioning services from home. Court reporters generally work full-time hours while court is in session, but freelance reporters have significantly more flexibility.
As the elderly population continues to grow from the baby boomer generation, there will be a spike in demand for closed captioning services at religious services, town hall meetings, movie theaters, sports stadiums, and even physicians’ offices. Therefore, employment for court reporters is expected to grow about as fast as the national average of all occupations at a rate of 14 percent, which will create 3,100 new jobs before 2020.