According to a Forbes Magazine 2012 report, court reporters ranked sixth in the nation among top careers without a four-year degree. Further, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that court reporter jobs are expected to grow 14 percent between 2010 and 2020. This professional field, which involves making record of proceedings in courtrooms, government meetings, and public hearings, is an exciting endeavor for individuals who possess strong communication and clerical skills.
The mean, annual salary for court reporters, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $53,010, as of May 2012, with the top 10 percent earning more than $90,530. The BLS also reported that there were 18,590 professional court reporters/stenographers employed in the United States during the same time.
Although experience always plays a large part in the salary of a court reporter, there are a number of other factors that may determine the overall salary expectations of a court reporter.
Court Reporter Salaries by State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
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Industry and its Impact on Court Reporter Salaries
Court reporters may work for local, state and federal governments, courts, and law firms, just to name a few. According to BLS statistics, the industry in which a court reporter is employed often plays a large role in terms of compensation. For example, court reporters working for local governments not only had the highest level of employment of court reporters, but also reported the highest annual, mean wage of $56,920.
The difference in pay for court reporters working for the federal government and state government was rather negligible, with federal government positions paying an annual, mean salary of $56,510 and state government positions paying an annual, mean salary of $55,390.
The largest difference in pay among court reporters was between government employers and the private sector, with court reporters working in business support services earning an annual, mean salary of $46,500 during the same time.
Court Reporter Salaries by Geographic Location
Although salary averages do not vary significantly among industry, the same cannot be said for the geographical area in which court reporters work. For example, the BLS reported that, as of May 2012, court reporters in New York earned an annual, mean salary of $84,090, the highest in the country, with California coming in second, with a mean annual salary of $76,840. Following closely behind were Maine, at $74,940 and Colorado, as $70,130. However, other states, such as Florida, earned a mean, annual salary of just $37,760 during the same time, which was more than half of what court reporters, on average, earned in both New York and California.
Further, the employment level of court reporters among U.S. states were not in line with salaries, as Maryland ranked first in the nation for its employment level of court reporters, yet stenographers here earned a mean, annual salary of just $39,990 in May 2010, more than half of the mean, annual salary of court reporters in New York.
This table, released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 212, shows data related to court reporter earnings across the U.S.
The Impact of Professional Certification on a Court Reporter’s Job Prospects
The educational requirement for court reporters is rather standard, so regardless of whether the court reporter education is achieved through a technical school, professional court reporter school or community college, the skills and knowledge gained are frequently similar. The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) notes that students much perform machine shorthand at a speed of at least 225 words per minute to pass a court reporter program.
Coursework in a typical court reporter program includes: computer technology, business management, judicial procedures, medical and forensic terminology, stenographic theory, criminal law, grammar, and business terminology.
However, many court reporters seek to distinguish themselves from their peers through professional certification.
For example, the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) designation through the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) has become such a widely accepted professional certification among court reporters that 22 states now accept this designation in lieu of state license examinations.
Further, court reporters in states with no licensing requirements often pursue the RPR designation because of the many professional opportunities in presents.
Additional, higher-level NCRA certifications that are also pursued include:
- Registered Merit Reporter
- Certified CART Provider
- Master Certified Reporting Instructor
- Certified Reporting Instructor
- Certified Realtime Reporter
- Registered Diplomate Reporter
- Certified Program Evaluator
- Certified Legal Video Specialist
- Certified Broadcast Captioner
Although there are no readily available statistics regarding salary statistics for certified court reporters versus their non-certified counterparts, professionals who have obtained professional certification are often pursued by employers seeking experts in court reporting.