The stars of the courtroom are often the attorneys and judge, but the most underrated person in the room may very well be the court reporter. This individual is responsible for documenting the court proceedings, and their records can prove crucial to resolving legal disputes and determining the outcome of appeals. While court reporters traditionally used stenotype machines to record judicial proceedings, new technology has made voice and electronic recording more prevalent. Between the importance of this information and the many methods of recording it, it's no surprise that education is paramount to success in this career.
Featured Online Colleges for Court Reporting in 2018
Students looking for an online program for court reporting could be interested in our list of schools directly below. This list of featured schools for court reporting was compiled using data, such as in-state tuition costs and graduation rate, accessed from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). More information about the selection criteria used to build this list is at the bottom of this page, but first: our list.
Cuyahoga Community College District
SUNY College of Technology at Alfred
Brown College of Court Reporting
College of Court Reporting Inc.
Degree Overview: Court Reporting
Online colleges for court reporting are designed to educate students interested in doing this important work, but how do they do so? This section details the curriculum these schools may offer, as well as the career-relevant skills students might have learned by the time they complete their degrees.
Online Court Reporting Courses
Coursework for online court reporting programs can vary greatly depending on the school students enroll in. However, the following are some examples of classes that court reporting departments generally offer.
- Court reporting basics: The purpose of this course is teaching students the basic principles of the field, making this one of the courses a court reporting student is almost guaranteed to take at some point. Topics covered may include the history of court reporting, career options, closed captioning and computer-compatible stenotype theory.
- Legal terminology: This class helps students master the legal terminology they need to know to accurately document court proceedings. Coursework may cover the terms used in everything from civil and criminal cases to appellate hearings to the discovery period of a case. In addition, the class is likely to emphasize the correct spelling and pronunciation of legal terms.
- Jury charge: Exactly as it sounds, students have the opportunity to learn techniques for documenting jury charge material in this class.
- Speedbuilding: The action in a courtroom moves fast, so court reporters need to be able to keep up. This course is designed to teach students how to increase their dictation speed, as well as accuracy. Depending on the school, the professor may set goals for how many words per minute students must master.
- Question and answer: A question and answer course serves the purpose of teaching students how to develop and read back courtroom testimony.
- Medical terminology: This class is meant to prepare students to document cases that include language used in health care professions. Professors might cover areas such as surgical procedures, diagnostics, disease symptoms, pathology, and anatomy and physiology.
Career-Related Skills to Develop
In order to be successful, court reporters must draw upon several different skills, many of which which can be learned or refined through online education for court reporting. The following are some of the abilities graduates may have when they finish their program and may benefit from as they enter the workforce.
- Time management: Professionals in this field often work independently, so they should have time management skills to prioritize their work and deliver multiple transcripts by their due dates.
- Concentration: Court reporters work long hours and must be able to pay attention to everything going on in court, despite any distractions that may occur. People entering the field need the concentration skills to remain focused on the courtroom dialogue, even if it is complicated (or even somewhat boring).
- Detail oriented: These professionals are tasked with the responsibility of creating an accurate transcript of everything that happens in court. It takes careful attention to detail to write up these documents and ensure they are free from any grammatical and/or spelling errors that might later interfere with the case. A simple misplaced comma or incorrect conjunction could change the entire meaning of a witness' statement!
- Technology: There are several tools of the trade that court reporters must be proficient in to be successful at their jobs. Knowledge of programs like OMTI ReporterBase, Acclaim Legal Acclaim DepoManage, ReporterWorks, and Courtroom Data Solutions Techlennium is required, and technology skills are needed in order to master them.
- Legal: Although court reporters aren't expected to have an intimate knowledge of the law, they should know how the court system works. In order to accurately document depositions, the swearing in and questioning of witnesses, and jury selection, professionals should have the legal skills to understand the flow of the courtroom and anticipate what's going to happen during a case.
Court Reporting Specializations
In some states, people in the court reporting profession are required to obtain a certification to gain employment. Depending on the criteria established by the state, professionals may be able to satisfy the certification requirements by earning a credential from the following organizations:
- The American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers offers certified electronic court reporter (CER) and certified electronic transcriber (CET) designations. To earn one of these certifications, professionals must take an examination covering areas such as general court procedures, vocabulary, transcript formatting, proofreading and court reporting technology.
- The National Court Reporters Association offers the Trial Presentation Professional and Realtime Systems Administrator designations for those who have expertise in different types of industry technologies.
- The National Verbatim Reporters Association has a variety of credentials available, including the Certified Verbatim Reporter, the Realtime Verbatim Reporter and the Registered Broadcast Captioner. In addition, the association has the Military Verbatim Reporter certification for active military court reporters.
Court Reporting Career Outlook
The judiciary relies on many employees who do their work behind the scenes to guarantee the system runs smoothly. The care these professionals exhibit helps to ensure that information is correct and thorough, which leads to cases being adjudicated properly.
In order for juries, attorneys and judges to review the facts of a case, an accurate account of the proceedings must be created. The judicial system relies on court reporters to create transcripts of depositions, trials and administrative hearings, which entails specific duties such as capturing the dialogue of court cases, proving information about speaker's nonverbal communication, proofreading transcripts to ensure they're free of typographical errors and proving copies of transcripts to people involved in a case.
Those who work as court reporters must be familiar with technologies like Chase Software Solutions Court Reporting Software, OMTI ReporterBase and Acclaim Legal Acclaim DepoManage. In some states, professionals may be required to obtain a license in order to enter the field.
Title examiners, abstractors, and searchers are required to locate a variety of documents, including insurance, mortgage and real estate records. This often includes obtaining maps from county surveyors, tax records from assessors' offices and property records from title plants. Title examiners, abstractors, and searchers are also likely to help prepare statements for real estate closings, assess fees for the registration of property-related documents, and summarize documents like trust deeds and mortgages.
Those employed in this field typically need to have strong communication skills through speaking, listening and writing, in addition to critical thinking and time management abilities. They also need technological proficiency because they may be required to use systems such as Property Insight TitlePoint, Data Trace Title IQ, Microsoft Access and Landtitle USA.
Judges are the face of authority in the courtroom, but those in judicial law clerk careers do the behind-the-scenes work that helps them maintain their influence. This job involves conducting research on documents, judicial opinions, cases and briefs; checking on the progress of a case by reviewing the court docket; scheduling judges' appointments; informing judges of new developments in the law; preparing briefs, statements of case issues and legal memoranda; and writing and editing judicial citations, opinions and decisions.
In order to perform the duties of this job, professionals must have strong reading, listening, critical-thinking, decision- making and monitoring skills. Workers are also expected to be reliable, take initiative and maintain integrity as they do their job.
To be included in these rankings, all colleges had to meet the following criteria for the specific subject being ranked:
- Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor's) in that subject online
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2015-16
Once we had our list of schools for each subject, we ranked them on five criteria:
- In-state tuition, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Accessibility, based on the admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2015-16 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16