To become a court reporter in Alabama, you must complete a specific number of steps:
The metropolitan area of Montgomery, Alabama, ranked fifth in the nation for its number of court reporter jobs, as of May 2012. Court reporters in Montgomery earned an annual mean salary of $38,670 during the same time.
All court reporters practicing in the State of Alabama must be licensed by the Alabama Board of Court Reporting. The Alabama Board of Court Reporting is also responsible for the testing, certification and disciplinary procedures for court reporters in the state.
Step 1. Meet Alabama Minimum Requirements
To apply for a court reporter license in Alabama, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be a United States citizen or legal resident
- Possess a high school diploma or GED
Step 2. Complete an Approved Court Reporter Educational Program
The first step to becoming a court reporter in Alabama must involve the completion of a court reporter educational program.
The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), through the Council on Approved Student Education (CASE), has accredited associate and certificate programs in:
- Judicial Reporting
- Professional Transcription
- Office Assistant
- Court and Realtime Reporting
Explore Other Education Options Related to Criminal Justice and Legal Studies
Here you’ll find schools that offer certificate and degree programs well suited to a career in legal assisting, law office management and the paralegal profession.
Step 3. Pass the NCRA Registered Professional Reporter Written Exam
After completing a diploma program in court reporting, you must take the necessary licensing tests.
To become a licensed court reporter in Alabama, you must pass the NCRA written knowledge test, or WKT, which is a 115-question, multiple-choice test that includes the following areas of study:
- Technology: 22 percent
- Reporting practices: 62 percent
- Professional practices: 16 percent
You must receive a scaled score of 70 or better to pass the exam.
You must first register with NCRA and submit your test fee, which is $185 if you are a NCRA member and $210 if you are not, before you can register to take the exam.
Once you have registered, you can schedule your test online and learn about upcoming NCRA testing dates through Pearson VUE. Pearson VUE also offers a testing tutorial and practice exam to help you prepare for the exam. Pearson VUE testing centers are located in:
Step 4. Pass the NCRA or ACRA Skills Exam
Upon passing the NCRA written examination, you must pass the skills examination, which may be taken either through NCRA or ACRA.
The NCRA skills assessment includes assessment of the following:
- Literary at 180 wpm
- Jury charge at 200 wpm
- Testimony/Q&A at 225 wpm
After dictation of each leg, you will have 75 minutes to transcribe your notes. You must score 95 percent (accuracy) on each leg to pass. You do not have to pass all legs of the exam in one sitting, and there is no time limit to earning the RPR.
You can take the NCRA skills test at either of the following locations:
- Gadsden, Gadsden State Community College
- Montgomery, Prince Institute of Professional Studies
Registration and dates for the NCRA skills test is found online.
The ACRA administers the Certified Court Reporter (CCR) skills exam twice a year, in April and October. The cost of taking the CCR exam is $75. The CCR skills exam is given at the Gadsden State Community College in Gadsden, Alabama.
Step 5. Apply for a License through the Alabama Board of Court Reporting
Once you have successfully completed all required exams, you may apply for a license to practice as a court reporter in Alabama. You must complete the application and include the following documents with your application:
- A current photo, taken within the last 6 months
- Proof of a passing all licensure examinations
- Application fee of $50
- License fee of $200
- Proof of graduation from a court reporting school (copy of diploma)
- Proof of citizenship (POC form at the end of the application)
Mail the completed application and all related documents to:
Alabama Board of Court Reporting
P.O. Box 241565
Montgomery, AL 36124-0066
Upon acceptance of your application, the Board will issue you a license as a certified court reporter and provide you with an identifying number. All court reporting licenses in Alabama are renewed annually on September 30th.
Step 6. Get to Work as a Court Reporter in Alabama
Many Alabama court reporters join professional associations, such as the Alabama Court Reporters Association, as to enjoy networking and other professional opportunities.
Professional opportunities abound for court reports in Alabama’s Unified Judicial System, which includes:
- Supreme Court of Alabama
- Court of Civil Appeals
- Court of Criminal Appeals
- Administrative Offices of the Courts
Some of the larger court reporting/stenography firms in Alabama include:
Step 7. Maintain Your Alabama License
You may renew your license during the 60 days preceding its expiration by completing an application for renewal and paying the renewal fee of $200.
You must show proof of at least 5 hours of continuing education to renew your court reporter license in Alabama. Any hours over 5 may be rolled over to the next renewal date. Continuing education may be obtained through an NCRA or ACRA activity or course, or other approved activities.
Alabama Court Reporting Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 380 court reporters worked throughout Alabama in 2012. The Alabama Department of Labor projects that the number of jobs between 2008 and 2018 will increase by 3.3% a year. This is greater than the projection for jobs overall in the state.
Montgomery is a particularly good city in which to find a job as a court reporter. In 2012, it had the fifth highest concentration of court reporter jobs of any metropolitan area in the country. Approximate ly one out of every two thousand employees in this city was a court reporter.
Based on information from the BLS, the average salary of a court reporter in Alabama in 2012 was $39,840, while those in the top tenth percent earned $58,220 that year. Salary data for that year is available for specific cities and is listed below:
The 2012 wages for a court reporter for Jefferson County ranged from $39,457 to $61,090.
This work typically involves taking notes of testimony in court and its proceedings. Some court reporters work as a stenographer, while others use typewriters or personal computers to record the testimony and proceedings. While many court reporters work for local and state government, a number are employed by business support services. The motion picture and video industry is another sizable employer.
The BLS provides salary information for specific cities and other areas broken down by hourly and annual percentiles. This is shown below: