Home Jobs & Education What Does a Court Reporter Do?

When Forbes claimed several years ago that court reporters are the sixth best-paid people who don’t need a four-year degree, everyone was left wondering what does a court reporter do?

Also known as court stenographers, court reporters are in charge with transcribing spoken communications into written form. To do this, court reporters will employ a machine shorthand to create official transcripts of official proceedings.

A few seasoned court reporters that work in favorable areas are able to earn as much as $90,000 per year. Aspiring court reporters will have to attend either vocational training or technical school that will prepare them for the exact requirements for the job.

Court Reporter Salary can exceed $90,000

What do court reporters do?

As an official of the court, a court reporter is in charge with writing down transcripts. These will record the oral communications that take place within court proceedings. The resulted transcripts play an important role since they serve as official records that cover all the trial’s aspects. Other lawyers are enabled to search the transcripts after the verdict for the trial comes in.

The vast majority of court reporters will employ a stenotype machine comprising a typed shorthand. This allows court reporters to instantly reproduce the spoken communications in court. A few courts give permission for the communication to be recorded. In this case, the court reporter has to produce written transcripts of the recordings.

Most jurisdictions out there opt for stenotype operators. The sophisticated machine requires formal instruction and hundreds of practice hours. This is where the skill and fast pace of the court reporter come in handy. While listening, court reporters need to accurately type everything and are allowed to linger behind the spoken communication only by a few seconds.

What tasks does a court reporter perform?

Working as a court reporter involves more than writing down oral communications instantaneously. Preparing for the job will involve getting acquainted with legal processes in order to be competent to carry out the following tasks:

  • Produce entire shorthand notes for oral testimonies, objections, and arguments.
  • Go over shorthand notes in order to settle disputes concerning testimonies, arguments or other issues at the trial court’s request.
  • Attend every session of the court.
  • File necessary papers or exhibits with the court’s clerk.
  • Keep shorthand notes for any future references.

Pros and Cons for court reporting jobs

There have been debates on whether this profession that has been needed for years will survive in the newly digitized era. The more optimistic outlook strongly believes court reporters have a future, with statistics backing up the claim and pointing out towards a growth in demand in the following five years by 14%.

Court reporting is not for everyone. When choosing to become a  stenographer, you need to know more than just what does a court reporter do? Besides having a keen eye for details and being dedicated to a job that is mandatorily error-free, you should also consider the following pros and cons.


  • Legal role. If your top priority has been to get a job in the legal industry, court reporting might be the ideal choice. The job involves getting acquainted with the legal processes and legal terminology.
  • Job prospects. The court reporter salary is probably the brightest outlook of a court reporter career. While novices can’t expect to start off with impressive earnings from the very first year, the top 10% are being paid handsomely and can earn over $90,000 annually.
  • Quick training. For a job that doesn’t require a four-year degree, court reporting is among the best paid. Training to become a court reporter can take less than one year.



  • Working hours. Court reporters are not bound to enjoy a fixed working schedule. Odd work hours may be a prerequisite, therefore, those who can’t agree to a flexible schedule might have trouble adjusting.
  • Sitting. Court reporting requires sitting in the same position for extended periods of time. Infrequent breaks and uncomfortable sitting might be a deal breaker for some.
  • Accuracy and speed. The appealing court reporter salary can’t be achieved without these two qualities that no employee should lack. Increased attention to detail and the ability to multi-task are a must since the job involves listening to other people talk and using a stenotype to write everything down.

What do court reporters do in a day?

It’s difficult to describe the average day of a court reporter. Their work days vary according to the type of assignments they have to perform. For example, mornings could be taken up by pre-trial depositions and followed up by checking the transcripts, which can take up to four hours. Then, court reporters might have to attend a couple of trials.

Some court reporters will use the free time when they don’t have to attend trials to do freelance work. This might involve transcribing television programs or press conferences in order to send them to viewers almost in real time.

What does a court reporter do in a day will also depend on the experience level, on the geographic location and on the ability of the person to take on extra shifts or extra work

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Gabrielle Moreno

Hi, my name is Gabrielle, but all my friends call me Gaby. Having a degree in foreign languages, I first intended to develop a career in translations, but then I realized human interaction is more satisfying and got engaged in educational projects. Writing is my second best skill after teaching. I started writing about jobs and education based on my experience of not knowing what career path to choose. Sharing my knowledge and experience is the most rewarding aspect of my work, especially when I see it really touches people. Therefore, I look forward to reading your comments, thoughts and opinions. Feel free to contact me.


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