Court Reporter Jobs and Training Opportunities in Arizona

Arizona is no stranger to sensational courtroom drama, but in recent memory, maybe the most dramatic has been the trial of Jodi Ann Arias for the murder of Travis Alexander.

Lurid photos and testimony came out as Arias was tried for stabbing her lover to death in the shower, for motives that remain unclear to this day. A hung jury during the death penalty sentencing phase left Arias’ life in the balance until a retrial ended with her facing life in prison.

Someone dying at the hands of someone who claimed to love them always makes for big headlines. But the trial was sensational for another reason, one that drew at least one court reporter into the drama in a completely unacceptable way. Prosecutor Juan Martinez developed an obsession with one of the stenographers involved in the case, staring at her openly during the trial, and making disturbing comments to her about her appearance. It was only part of a litany of other misconduct accusations surrounding the trial that ended up getting Martinez fired, despite his success in putting Arias away.

Not all cases put court reporters on the spot like that, though, and most court reporters in Arizona enjoy the variety and responsibility that comes with the job. And, with an average pay rate of $29.88 per hour, court reporters here make comfortably above the state average, giving them access to an upper middle class lifestyle. And, with the right certifications and experience, it can be significantly more.

Follow these steps to become certified as a court reporter through the Arizona Board of Certified Reporters:

Complete a Program in Court Reporting
Pass Proficiency Exams Available through One of the National Certifying Bodies
Pass the Arizona Certification Exam
Submit Your Application to the Arizona Certification and Licensing Division
Get to Work as a Court Reporter in Arizona
Maintain your Certification in Arizona

 


 

Step 1. Complete a Program in Court Reporting

Becoming a court reporter in Arizona requires completing an exam-based vetting process through the state’s Court Reporter Standard Certification Program administered through the Board of Certified Reporters. The program is all about verifying you have the skills, familiarity with the judicial process, and ethical grounding it takes for the job. You will need to meet at least ONE of the following requirements before taking that test:

  • Have one year of experience in verbatim recording
  • Hold a verified certificate of completion from a court reporting program
  • Hold certification from a national court reporter’s association
  • Have a valid certificate to practice court reporting in a state with similar requirements
  • Demonstrate proficiency in making verbatim records of trial or other proceedings through an approved examination

Every one of those options require you to start by equipping yourself with the right educational background. As a profession that’s primarily about dictation skills using a stenotype or stenomask machine and specialized software, as well as knowledge of courtroom procedure, the whole process starts with a formal court reporter training program to get you ready for the state certification exam.

Featured Program

International Realtime Court Reporting Institute offers self-paced online programs at all levels, from basic and retraining courses in speech-to-text technology to advanced CAT system training in Eclipse Vox. Get started today.

Grand Canyon University offers B.S. in Justice Studies and M.S. in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies. Request Information

SNHU offers an A.S. in Criminal Justice, B.S. in Criminal Justice, and M.S. in Criminal Justice. Request Information

Training takes place through associate’s degree programs offered at community colleges, or specialized court reporter trade schools that offer certificate and diploma programs in less time than it takes to earn a degree. Arizona is of 37 states that use voice writers as court reporters in state courts. These programs specialize in stenomask training to learn how to turn your own vocal dictation of live court proceedings into text and can be completed in a handful of months, while it typically takes about three years to really master stenotype at adequate speeds.

These programs all cover the same essential elements:

  • Stenotype machine use
  • English language and grammar
  • Specialized judicial and medical terminology
  • Communications theory
  • Transcript production
  • Courtroom procedures

You’ll find that a two-year associate’s program offers more, and more in-depth, training that also involves some liberal arts courses for a more well-rounded education, while certificate and diploma programs tend to be more focused on practical matters of transcription.

If you’re planning to qualify for your state certification by earning a nationally-recognized credential or simply choosing to earn the credential electively, you’ll want to look for training programs that have been approved or meet the standards of the two major certification agencies:

  • NCRA (National Court Reporters Association) – Certifies traditional stenotype court reporters
  • NVRA (National Verbatim Reporters Association) – Certifies both stenotype and voice writer court reporters

 


 

Step 2. Pass Proficiency Exams Available through One of the National Certifying Bodies

Upon the successful completion of a court reporter program, your next step is to demonstrate your proficiency through a skills exam.

The Arizona Code of Judicial Administration rules on certification and licensing for court reporters states that either the NCRA’s RPR (Registered Professional Reporter) or the National Verbatim Reporters Association’s (NVRA) CVR (Certified Verbatim Reporter) designation are acceptable paths to qualifying for state-level certification.

You can also qualify on the basis of your training and exam scores alone without actually paying the fees required to become nationally certified through one of these organizations, though you would still need to pass one of the proficiency exams or an equivalent before you can go on to take the state exam covering the Arizona statutes relating to court reporters.

This makes national certification a natural path to take when preparing to become certified in Arizona.

After completing the skills test, you may complete the respective written knowledge tests, which are around 100 multiple-choice questions and covers areas such as ethics, judicial procedures, and transcription technology. The NCRA version is proctored through Pearson Vue, while the NVRA handle their own in-person testing. Costs for the tests are:

  • Skills
    • NVRA – $150
    • NCRA – $120 / $95 for members / $77 for students
  • Written
    • NVRA – $125
    • NCRA – $220 / $195 for members / $160 for students

Although it makes sense to become fully certified by completing the written portion of those exams, it’s not strictly required; you can obtain certification in Arizona solely on the basis of your education, skills test, and passing the state-specific exam.

 


 

Step 3.  Pass the Arizona Certification Exam

Upon passing one of the national exams recognized by the  the requirements noted in the introduction, you are still not quite finished; you must next successfully complete the Arizona Written Examination.

The exam covers very similar territory to the RPR and CVR written tests in ethics, transcript production, and various court-related material handling, but it does so with the specifics of Arizona laws and procedures. The 100 question test must be passed with at least a 70 percent score.

To apply to take the written examination, you must complete the application and mail it, along with the application fee of $50, to:

Arizona Supreme Court
Certification and Licensing Division
1501 West Washington, Suite 104
Phoenix, AZ 85007-3231

On the day of the exam, you must bring two photo IDs with you. The address of the test location is:

Arizona State Courts Building
1501 West Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007

 


 

Step 4. Submit Your Application to the Arizona Certification and Licensing Division

Upon successfully completing the Arizona written examination, you must apply for certification by completing the Certified Reporter Initial Standard Certification Application form and including the following documents:

  • 2”x 2” color photograph
  • Photocopies of all diplomas/degrees/certificates/licenses
  • Verification of RPR/CVR
  • A complete set of fingerprints on an FBI fingerprint card (along with a $22 FBI processing fee)
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship
  • $450 application fee

Mail the application and documents to:

Arizona Supreme Court
Certification and Licensing Division
1501 West Washington Street, Suite 104
Phoenix, AZ 85007-3231

 


 

Step 5. Get to Work as a Court Reporter in Arizona

Once you achieve certification in Arizona, you will be eligible to find work in the Arizona’s court system:

Outside of direct employment with the courts, there are also lots of opportunities with Arizona’s larger court reporting agencies, which offer their services on a contract basis to law offices, corporations and government agencies for any kind of meeting or proceeding that needs an official record:

Some of the best opportunities come with additional training and certification in CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) captioning. Taking real-time audio from television, business presentations, and other events and turning it into captions for the hearing-impaired and non-native English speakers is a more and more common job contracted out to traditional court reporting firms.

 


 

Step 6. Maintain your Certification in Arizona

Your state-level court reporter certification has to be renewed every two years. You will complete a renewal application, pay the renewal application fee of $400, and show proof of at least 10 hours of continuing education.

Assuming you attained national certification (either the RPR through NCRA or the CVR through NVRA), you will also need to meet the continuing education requirements of your certifying agency. These can overlap with the state-required CE, so the CE you earn for your state renewal can also be applied toward these requirements.

  • RPR – 3 credits (30 hours) every three years (10 hours minimum required each year, though additional hours above 10 can be applied to the following years within the three-year period)
  • CVR – 20 credits every two years

Both associations offer many opportunities to obtain that continuing education, but another resource is the Arizona Court Reporters Association. Heavily involved with local and even regional court reporting considerations—ACRA participates in a multistate convention with other Western states—you’ll find assistance and networking in diverse reporter-related matters, all for only a $150 annual membership fee.


 

Arizona Court Reporting Salary

A court reporter starting out in Arizona today is looking at a bright future with many employment opportunities in the coming years. According to the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, the field is due to expand by nearly 7% by 2026 statewide just to keep up with the growing demand.

Not only will the jobs be there for you, but so will the salaries. The average court reporter in Arizona in 2020 could expect to make $62,160 per year, or $29.88 per hour. With the right kind of certification, experience, and expertise, those at the high end could make more than $78,000, or $37.66 per hour.

As with most states, the biggest and best paying opportunities tend to exist in the major urban areas. The Phoenix metro area handily beats those statewide pay rates, with reporters anywhere in the Valley making considerably more whether employed by the court system or working on a freelance basis.

Annual Salaries For Court Reporters in Major Arizona Metropolitan Areas

Phoenix (including the Mesa and Scottsdale areas)

  • Median – $66,080
  • More experienced – $74,470
  • Certified and experienced – $79,720

Hourly Wages For Court Reporters in Major Arizona Metropolitan Areas

Phoenix (including the Mesa and Scottsdale areas)

  • Median – $31.77
  • More experienced – $35.80
  • Certified and experienced – $38.33

 

*Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labors Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2019. Figures represent accumulated data for all employment sectors in which court reporters work. BLS salary data represents state and MSA (metropolitan statistical area) average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries.

All salary and employment data accessed June 2020.

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