Court Reporter Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's & Online Course Info

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What jobs can you get with an associate or bachelor's degree in court reporting? Get the facts about requirements, online options, courses and training programs.
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Studying Court Reporting: Undergraduate Degree Programs at a Glance

Undergraduate degree programs in court reporting can help prepare you to use listening and machine shorthand skills to create written transcripts of depositions and court proceedings. Using computer technology, court reporters are expected to insure 100% accuracy of the transcripts they capture, store and retrieve, using conflict-free real-time translation procedures. Students are generally required to own or purchase a laptop, steno machine and transcription software, which are used on the job and can be a necessary investment.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that employment for all court reporters, as well as broadcast captioners and Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) providers, would increase by 14% from 2010-2020, which is about as fast as the national average. Some courts are moving from human court reporters to digital audio recording technology (DART); however, it may still be necessary to verify or correct errors in the translation and formatting from audio capture to written transcripts.

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested in real-time capture of audio testimony and creating written transcripts Individuals interested in career advancement with court reporting careers
Common Career Path (with approximate annual median salary) Court Reporter (also known as judicial or freelance court reporter ($49,000)* The career path for the bachelor's degree is similar to that of the associate, although there might be more advancement opportunities for candidates holding bachelor's degree
Time to Completion Two years, full-time Four years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Internship
- Pass speed and accuracy test
Same as associate's, plus:
- Demonstrate speed and accuracy
- Produce accurate transcripts using computer-aided technology
- Maintain minimum grade level requirement
- Liberal arts courses
Prerequisites New student assessment test scores or high school diploma or GED - Minimum requisite QWERTY keyboarding speed
- High school diploma or GED
Online Availability Yes Rare

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate in Court Reporting

Associate degree programs, such as the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Court Reporting Technology or AAS in Real-time Reporting, focus heavily on developing machine shorthand skills and all aspects of proper English usage. You can also master the technology used to record and transcribe the spoken word.

You will learn to capture testimony using a steno machine, read machine shorthand and quickly locate passages in your shorthand notes. You will spend a lot of time practicing capturing the spoken word and translating it into written text in order to build up your speed and accuracy. Some programs also prepare you for certification or licensure, such as the Certified Court Reporter (CCR) or Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) credentials.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • You will learn essentially the same technical real-time court reporting skills as someone with a bachelor's degree, which will make you equally competitive in the job market
  • An associate degree program's emphasis on real-time translation machine shorthand and computer technology will give you a competitive edge over less intensive court reporting certificate programs
  • There are many freelance court reporting or broadcast reporting opportunities available, giving you a wide range of career choices*

Cons

  • You may be competing with other job-seekers who only have a certificate as well as a similar skill-set
  • The requirement that you make a financial investment in the steno machine, laptop and software can be expensive, especially if it turns out you change your mind about this career path
  • Court reporters who work in courtrooms are usually required to be state-licensed or certified*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

In addition to the basics of reporting for courtroom trials, you can also learn about broadcast captioning. Your associate degree program may also have a curriculum that follows the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) standards. You may be required to take classes that test your accuracy and speed in typing. Some programs also offer an internship or professional practice course in a judicial environment to help you develop real-life experience. Other require coursework covers topics similar to the following:

  • Legal and medical terminology
  • Computer and real-time reporting technology
  • English
  • Real-time reporting/machine shorthand
  • Court and legal procedures
  • Internship
  • Speed and accuracy requirements

Online Course Info

Associate degree programs in court reporting or real-time reporting are available fully online from accredited schools. Similar to campus-based programs, online courses prepare students to meet the standards established by the NCRA and to pass state or other offered exams to be a certified court reporter. You can complete your courses and any required practice exercises from the comfort of your own home, as well as interact with your classmates and professors.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

It will be worth your while to spend more than the minimum time required by the course in practicing. The BLS notes that you can increase your job prospects by developing a background using CART reporting or broadcast captioning. Both of these fields involve interpretation of the spoken word into written text that appears on the television screen or at live events. You can also stand out by pursuing certification, such as the professional credentials offered by the NCRA.

Bachelor's Degree in Court Reporting

Bachelor's degree programs in court reporting are not as common because a certificate or associate degree is the minimum requirement for this career. Pursuing a 4-year degree in court reporting can offer a much broader-based education than an associate degree program. For example, you will be able to enhance your technical reporting skills, as well as take a well-rounded selection of liberal arts courses. You may consider this program if you are interested in career advancement in court reporting.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A bachelor's degree program can offer courses in additional areas not offered through a 2-year degree program
  • Bachelor's degree court reporting programs feature conflict-free real-time translation procedures that are in high demand by courts and law firms*
  • You can prepare for a variety of positions (e.g., CART reporter or freelance reporter)

Cons

  • Bachelor's degree programs in court reporting are rare
  • Bachelor's degree programs can take longer to complete
  • You will be competing the candidates who only have associate degrees or certificates and the same technical court reporting skills you have*

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Courses and Requirements

A bachelor's degree program in court reporting generally includes the same coursework as the associate program. You can also expect to take courses in liberal arts, business and legal subjects to supplement and enhance your knowledge and skills. Similar to associate degree programs, you can also complete courses that meet the NCRA standards. You will study through courses in topics that include:

  • History
  • Machine shorthand theory
  • Science
  • Business
  • Paralegal studies
  • Real-time reporting
  • Humanities
  • Communication

Online Course Info

Online bachelor's degree programs in court reporting are also rare. Available online options cover topics similar to campus-based programs, such as judicial reporting, machine shorthand, dictation and word processing. You will be able to access course lecture and practice assignment online. Some programs may require that candidates already are licensed as a court reporter with a certain minimum experience. It may be important to look for schools that are accredited by the NRCA.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

You may want to choose a business minor for your degree, or focus your electives on business-related courses, so that you graduate well-positioned to enter the field by setting up your own court reporting business. The BLS notes that there is increase in demand for fast and accurate freelance court reporters.

In an effort to keep litigation costs down, many law firms elect to conduct real-time electronic depositions involving video conferencing technology. The independent court reporting firm that is skilled in offering this service along with affordable and accurate court reporting may have a distinct advantage over less technologically-oriented court reporting businesses.

You can also pursue certification through the NCRA, which will require you to pursue continuing education to maintain membership and certification. Approved courses are offered at conventions or seminars, by colleges, and by the NCRA online as e-seminars, webinars or tele-training courses.

Popular Schools

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American InterContinental University

  • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Corrections and Case Management
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  • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Homeland Security and Crisis Management

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Keiser University

  • B.A. - Legal Studies
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  • Undergraduate in Legal Studies
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